BOSTON (CBS) – Paul Pierce became the 18th player in NBA history to score 25,000 points in his career on Friday night against Atlanta.
The veteran forward wasn’t wearing a Celtics uniform when he achieved the feat, but the 36-year-old was able to share the accomplishment with Nets teammate and close friend Kevin Garnett.
Garnett was able to pass the 25,000-point milestone back in February 2013 during a Celtics win over the Lakers. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Garnett and Pierce are now the first pair of teammates to play together after scoring 25,000 points. Dirk Nowitzki and Kobe Bryant are the only other active players who have reached the 25,000-point mark.
If both stars had their preference, Pierce and Garnett would have finished their careers together in Boston, adding milestones like this to their Hall of Fame resumes in front of the TD Garden crowd. Once that possibility was eliminated due the necessity of rebuilding for the Celtics franchise, Danny Ainge did the next best thing for the duo: he made sure they had a chance to finish their careers together.
That’s why watching the two succeed from afar has been enjoyable for Celtics fans this year. The lifelong friends no longer have the familiar confines of Boston to support them, but they still have each other, which has allowed them to lead an impressive second-half turnaround for Brooklyn.
It also has given both players a front row seat to each other’s memorable moments like we saw Friday night.
“I told him, ‘Welcome to the neighborhood, man,’ ” Garnett told the New York Daily News on Friday night. “Truth has been a big part of this league, so it’s kind of dope to see one of your great friends — best friends — reach some accomplishments together. We’ve done some things together, but tonight was all about him. I’m proud of him, happy for him.”
The impact the pair has had on the Brooklyn’s roster has also been notable among the team’s veterans.
“[Pierce and Garnett] lead by example,” Joe Johnson said. “They are leaders in the locker room, so they have been great for us. It’s been a constant all year since training camp. Paul doing a lot of talking, KG talks everyday. They’ve been fantastic for our team.”
After a 9-19 start to the season, the Nets have positioned themselves well in the East, locking up the fifth seed, while putting together the best record in the East during the second half of the season. After a first round exit last year, Garnett and Pierce’s presence should help Brooklyn make a deeper run this year and hopefully get another chance at the Miami Heat.
“Obviously we are a different team.” Johnson said. “We got guys who have been there before, with championship pedigree. Those guys are going to be the main reason why we advance. We really have to take heed to what we have to do offensively and defensively and keep communicating and keep playing hard.”
Pierce and Garnett will continue to lead together as the NBA postseason approaches next week. With the Celtics out of the postseason mix for the first time in the past seven seasons, Boston fans will be able to lend their undivided support to the familiar duo as they make what may be their final playoff push together.