It would have been easy for Paul Pierce to walk away from the NBA after last season. He had nothing left to prove, having experienced all of the highs and lows of an NBA career, from losing 58 games (including an 18-game losing streak) to winning an NBA championship. A 10-time All-Star, a Finals MVP, and four-time All-NBA player, Pierce is a mortal lock for the Hall of Fame. So, when the Washington Wizards failed to upset the Atlanta Hawks – despite Pierce’s multiple end-game heroics – nobody would have blamed Pierce if he chose to hang up his jersey for the final time.
But Pierce wanted one more shot, a chance to end his story on his terms. He returned home to Los Angeles, reuniting with Doc Rivers and signing with the Clippers, a team desperately in need of a strong veteran presence. He knows he’s not The Man anymore, but he also knows he still has enough in the tank to help lead the Clippers to the championship.
Recently, while promoting the new Guitar Hero Live, Pierce talked with DIME about his decision to go to the Clippers, what exactly “veteran leadership” means, how a player looks at the end of his career, and whether his teammates can wear LeBron James’ shoes.
DIME: Do you have a go-to Guitar Hero song?
Paul Pierce: I don’t have one yet, because I’m still working on it. I’m trying to work my way up so I can play a Jimi Hendrix song. I can’t get there yet, it’s kind of difficult. I guess right now I would have to say… wow… “California King Bed” by Rihanna.
I know you’re really competitive, so when you’re losing or not doing well, do you throw down your controller?
[Laughs] No, I don’t throw it down. I’m gonna keep going through, definitely.