NBA

How Paul Pierce Played a Full Season After Being Stabbed 11 Times

7 February 2011: Boston Celtics small forward Paul Pierce (34) is restrained by teammates against the Charlotte Bobcats during an NBA basketball game at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina on February 7, 2011
Chris Keane/Getty Images

Paul Pierce had the scare of a lifetime in 2000 when a man stabbed him in a nightclub. Yet, he played all 82 games of that season.

Pierce announced his retirement following the 2017 season, leaving the NBA with an incredible legacy that will most likely land him in the Hall of Fame. Pierce is a one time champion, a 10-time all-star, and a Boston Celtics legend.

He has countless individual and team accomplishments, but playing 82 games in the 2000-2001 NBA season might top the list.

Pierce was stabbed 11 times just over a month before the Celtics season opener. 

Pierce’s Unlucky Night

On September 25, 2000, Pierce entered the Buzz Club in Boston with teammate Tony Battie. Pierce was chatting with a woman at the club, when a man, who allegedly was related to the woman, called Pierce out. They got into a scuffle, in which the man repeatedly struck Pierce with a blade. As the small forward described on All The Smoke, he did not even initially realize the extent of the situation. 

“I didn’t even know I was being stabbed. I look up, and my jacket is ripped, blood everywhere.”

Paul Pierce on All The Smoke Podcast

Pierce had been stabbed in the stomach and back with two different knives. Battie immediately took him to the hospital, where he received life-saving lung surgery. Pierce was fortunate to be alive, let alone able to play basketball just over a month later. 

Pierce had one of the best seasons of his illustrious career. He played over 38 minutes per game and averaged 25.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 3.4 assists.

A major talking point to come out of this incident was the impact on his mental health. Later in the same discussion on All The Smoke, he described being extraordinarily paranoid and scared in the following years. 

“I actually carried a gun for two years right after that. I was so paranoid. I couldn’t be in crowds. If something like that happens to you, it’s traumatic. I couldn’t even sleep. I even had 24-hour police surveillance in my house, that’s how paranoid I was.”

Paul Pierce on All The Smoke Podcast

Repercussions of the Incident

Due to the post-traumatic stress from the stabbing, Pierce also said that he rarely went out in the following years. Other than going to the gym and games, Pierce kept to himself. He used his experience with mental health to advocate for the NBA’s mental health initiative. Pierce even made a substantial donation to the surgical center where his lung surgery happened. 

After that night, Pierce went on to play another 17 seasons in the league. The Boston Celtics even retired his jersey number, 34. However, it is easy to forget that he may not have lived for all of that, if not for a bit of good fortune that night. 

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