Paul Pierce is the Derek Jeter of basketball

Last night, with 13.3 seconds remaining in an early-season mail-biter against Milwaukee, a bit of history happened in Boston.

Paul Pierce strode to the free-throw line and sunk two freebies, notching his 20,000th and 20,001st NBA points, joining Bird and John Havlicek as the only life-long Celtics to reach the milestone. This begs an important question: How good is Paul Pierce?

Pierce never led the league in anything worthwhile, never scored more than 26 points per-game. Never filled out a stat sheet. Pierce ranks 36th all-time in NBA scoring  and doesn’t crack the Top 50 in steals, rebounds or assists.  The man suffers from the curse of being ‘very good’ and ‘consistent.’ If he were flashier, he’d be Tracy McGrady. More freakishly athletic, he’d be Vince Carter.

But Pierce holds the ace in the hole. He’s been remarkably durable and consistent. He’s a career 22-6-3 guy who’s scored more than 19 PPG every season this millennium, and plays solid, if unspectacular, defense. He’s had one significant injury his entire career and suited up in green-and-white for every game he’s played as a pro. He’s won in the playoffs when surrounded by top-notch talent, liberated from carrying the team on his back, unless he had to.

Clutch. Consistently above-average. Good ‘D’. Wins when surrounded by stars. Played his entire career with the most storied franchise in his sport, and could one day end up leading the franchise in several categories.

Paul Pierce is Derek Jeter minus the media slobber and the fawning women. You may not have realized yet, but you will when you see him down the road in Springfield.

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