Like most of you, I thought Paul Pierce's knee injury was more severe than the sprained knee diagnosis.
He crumpled to the ground after sort of colliding with teammate Kendrick Perkins, and he lay there, wincing in pain, clutching his knee. The trainer told teammates to carry Pierce off the court. The anguish on his face led all to believe he'd blown out his knee. Kaput. Title hopes gone.
Not so fast.
Channeling the memories of Willis Reed in 1970, Pierce triumphantly returned to the court a few minutes later, with a brace on the knee. The crowd roars. He enters the game and moments later is running up and down the court, showing no signs of a serious knee injury, and hits back-to-back threes to turn a 71-69 deficit into a 75-71 lead.
The Celtics never looked back and, as you know, took Game 1, 98-88. This game was Pierce's defining moment.
Talk about inspiration.
But Pierce's actions have resulted in questions. He said he heard something in the knee pop; he thought it was all over. Yet miraculously (hey, that's what it seemed liked based on his rolling on the floor and near crying) he's back on the court and scores 11 points over the final quarter and a half.
Was he really that hurt? The Lakers are surrounded - mostly courtside at the Staples Center - by people who make millions pretending like their hurt, angry, sad, psychotic, stoic, whatever. So maybe Phil Jackson and Co. have an innate sense to sniff out an actor. The Zenmaster was non-plussed about Pierce's apparent injury.
You have to wonder, when Pierce woke up this morning, after that knee rested horizontal and listless for seven or eight hours, did he wince at and grab the aching knee or did a Grinch-like smile spread across his face?
(Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)