Paul Pierce bragged about asking coach Jason Kidd to guard his biggest rival (LeBron James) before Game 2 of the Brooklyn Nets–Miami Heat series; but Brooklyn lost that game, so they never mentioned it.
Fast-forward to a Game 3 win and his request becomes the talk of every newspaper and sports program. But most failed to acknowledge that James still had 28 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
Fast-forward, again, to Game 4, and the eyes of the basketball world were fixed on Pierce vs. James.
They had the attention of everyone in the attendance from Floyd Mayweather Jr., Beyoncé and Jay Z to Denzel Washington and Spike Lee. And what did the Truth get for his troubles? Nothing but early foul trouble and the Chosen One getting a Heat playoff-high 49 points while tying his individual best. The only thing missing was the meaningless bricked free throw that would’ve put a bow on a nice round 50.
“That’s the first time I’ve been disappointed in myself in a win,” James joked via ESPN.
For the first time in a long time, no one could be disappointed in his sense of urgency though. It covered up the poor team defense caused by Dwyane Wade and Norris Cole watching Nets guards blow by them all night. And although he only had two assists, he still had the confidence in his teammates to swing the ball to Mario Chalmers who swung it to Chris Bosh to sink the go-ahead three for the perfect hockey helper.
Who knows if Pierce’s words lit the fire under James or if watching the Indiana Pacers pull ahead 3-1 made him decide to hit the kill switch, but whatever it was resulted in something we rarely got to see this year — pure desperation.