For Comparison's Sake: Paul Pierce And Celtics Royalty


Getty Images

"When do people start calling me Legend?"

The Boston Celtics have quite the history, mostly because the organization has won more NBA titles (17) than any other team, as well as the fact that the Basketball Hall of Fame is riddled with Celtics. One person who could be joining his Celtics predecessors there is Paul "The Truth" Pierce, who just broke the 20,000 point mark Wednesday night. That makes him just the third Celt to hit that milestone, behind Larry Bird (21,791) and John Havlicek (26,395).

Naturally, this begs the question of what it would take for Pierce to overtake Bird and Havlicek to become the highest scorer in Boston's rich history. Let's compare their respective numbers, do a little math, and figure it out, shall we?

Points Scored, Minutes Played

Havlicek: 26,395 points, 46,471 minutes played

Bird: 21,791 points, 34,443 minutes played

Pierce: 20,005 points, 33,122 minutes played

This means Havlicek scored an average of 1.76 points per minute, while Bird scored 1.58 and Pierce is scoring 1.65. Therefore, Pierce needs to maintain that average and play for another 1,085 minutes to overtake Bird. Should he keep it up for another 3,873 minutes, that would give him the necessary 6,390 points to overtake Havlicek. Considering Pierce has played 12 seasons and averaged 2,760 minutes per season, he'll knock off Bird this season and be the new all-time Celtics points leader sometime during the following.

Considering the game of basketball has evolved quite a bit since the days of Havlicek and Bird, it's worth comparing the players scoring and seeing how they got to their incredible plateaus:

Field Goals

Havlicek: 10,513 (21,026 points)

Bird: 8,591 (17,182 points)

Pierce: 6,539 (13,078 points)

Free Throws Made

Pierce: 5,448

Havlicek: 5,369

Bird: 3,960

Now, if you did your math (don't worry, we did it for you), you'll notice that both of those numbers combine to make all of Havlicek's 26,395 points. That's because he retired in 1978, one year before the NBA adopted the 3-point line. Seems a little unfair, but those are the breaks. It is worth noting, for the sake of Havlicek, that he outscored Pierce's entire career total with field goals alone. Imagine what his total would have been had he been playing with the outer arc. That said, Pierce is the Celtics' all-time 3-point leader with 1,479 buckets from downtown, accounting for 4,437 of his career points.

So what does this all mean? Havlicek had to work a little harder for his all-time points as a Celtic. Then again, as the hair got shorter and the shorts got longer, the game evolved in a way that definitely suits Pierce's talents. Therefore, when Pierce becomes the all-time scoring leader for Boston, there will always remain a high amount of respect for Havlicek's accomplishments -- especially since he won an astonishing eight NBA titles (how's THAT for some truth?).