By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Paul Pierce is getting older, and he’s proving he knows how to laugh at himself.
The now-retired former Celtics star shared a picture of his cakes to celebrate the big 4-0.
One of the cakes features a collection of some of Pierce’s proudest moments, as a pro, including a picture of him holding the Finals MVP trophy after winning a title in 2008.
His other cake tells a slightly different tale, as it features a giant photo of Pierce being pushed on a wheelchair around the halls of TD Garden after an injury scare of Game 1 of the 2008 Finals.
That’s just funny.
And since Pierce brought it up … it’s time to maybe clear the air on some of the flak that Pierce has taken in the near-decade that has passed since that fateful night in June 2008.
Midway through the third quarter, all 270 pounds of Kendrick Perkins came down on Pierce’s right leg. This likely hurt! And Pierce clearly thought he was quite injured. He heard a pop in his knee. He feared the worst. Unable — well, more accurately, unwilling — to put weight on his leg, Pierce was carried down the tunnel, where he was placed in a wheelchair for further examination.
Turns out he was totally fine. Just a sprain. He’d come back about a minute later to drain two huge 3’s. He’d go on, of course, to not miss any time en route to being named MVP of the series.
As a result of the dramatic scene, Pierce’s lack of toughness has become a bit of a punchline around the world. And, while the wheelchair scenario may have made Pierce look like a fake artist to some, his toughness shouldn’t ever be in question.
He was stabbed 11 times in his face, neck and back in September of 2000; he was in Boston’s starting lineup nearly a month later, and he’d play in all 82 games, setting a career high at the time in points, assists and minutes per game.
He lost two teeth after slamming his face on the court in December 2002; Pierce not only finished that game but didn’t miss any playing time after that, despite undergoing oral surgery.
From the his rookie season in 1998-99 through his penultimate season in 2015-16, Pierce played in 1,318 games out of a possible 1,428 games. He also played 170 postseason games. In total, he logged 47,308 minutes on an NBA court and played through age 39.
He’s pretty tough! Though no, there’s no explanation for the boo-boo bunny he rocked in that Indiana series in 2005. That was a rough one. So … at least, he’s tougher than most NBA players who have earned a soft reputation by flopping and faking contact over the years.
But, as evidenced not only by the existence of his big birthday cake but by his willingness to share it with the world (and his reaction on TV a few months ago), he also has a strong sense of humor.