Chris Paul may be the MVP … but Paul Pierce will prove he’s the best player in the world.
He said it. And he didn’t make two bones about it.
“I have an opinion,” Pierce said to a Spanish newspaper in the middle of the summer. “I have a right to have one and that’s the way I feel. I felt I’ve played against the best over the years and felt right now that I’m the best player in
Though Pierce’s bold statement might upset the order that has been pounded into our heads for years, it’s not a crazy notion that he is a better basketball player than Kobe or LeBron. After LBJ’s disappointing showing in the Eastern Conference semis, and Kobe’s uncharacteristic poor shooting in Beijing this summer, the only knock on Pierce over the last four months is that he pulled a Cristiano Ronaldo with that leg injury in the playoffs.
But it’s not just because of the shortcomings of the usual suspects that Pierce will get the shine he believes he deserves; it’s because nobody knows how to stop him. In that regard, he is the anomaly. From the “Better Basketball” perspective, he’s the one elite player that doesn’t automatically jab to one side upon catching the ball on the perimeter. Watch him closely: he has an uncanny ability to get his man off-balance by going left or right with equal quickness. When Kobe, LeBron, and just about every other right-handed perimeter player catches the rock, they lift that right foot and try to move their defender with a series of jabs. Pierce doesn’t do that, and he’s better for it.
But even more so, NBA scouts have developed a book on Kobe and LeBron: bottle LeBron up with collapsing D and make him take outside shots; keep Kobe off the stripe and force him into those off-balance Jordan-esque jumpers. But how can they stop Pierce? There’s no set way to keep him under wraps. He’s a machine of countermoves. Put a quicker man on him to take away his ability to get to the rim, and he’ll bring him down to the block. Put a stronger defender on him to take away his post game and he’ll head-fake him out of his kicks before wetting a J.
Pierce has been doing this since Antoine Walker—not KG or Ray Allen—was his sidekick. Then, he was just the best player on a decent team. Now, he’s emerged as the clutch leader on the best team in the League—even though many expected that he would fade into Garnett’s shadow. While KG was credited with “changing the culture” in Boston by energizing the team’s D, it was Pierce who held the world champs together when Ray’s jumper didn’t fall or the Big Ticket couldn’t find his range.
Now, the best player on the best team in the League will prove to be the best player in the world.
Who is the best player in the world?
The “New Best Season Ever”
1. Chris Paul will be the MVP