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Paul Pierce was set to begin his third season in the NBA when it all almost vanished.

Pierce was stabbed 11 times at a nightclub in Boston in September 2000 and underwent lung surgery.

He played all 82 games that season. In his career, he was named an All-Star 10 times, won an NBA title in 2008 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2021.

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Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics during a game against the Sacramento Kings at Arco Arena Feb. 16, 2010, in Sacramento, Calif.
(Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Celtics legend points to that near-fatal night as the turning point, not only in his basketball career, but in his life.

“My stabbing incident really motivated me to be on the court,” Pierce said on the “Ticket and the Truth” podcast (New York Post). “I wanted to just be on the court, keep my mind off it. It really helped me lock in. Some things you go through in life really help you lock in, to do what you really need to do.

“Me going through that incident, it was just like, ‘Man, I really need to focus on basketball. I shouldn’t really be in the streets or chasing girls or going to the club.’ It’s like, ‘I really just need to zero back in on basketball.’ And that took up my whole life at that point from there on out.”

Pierce failed to make the All-Star Game that season, which, in his eyes, was a snub. But he made sure that wouldn’t be an option again.

Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2021 inductee Paul Pierce speaks at a news conference at Mohegan Sun Sept. 10, 2021, in Uncasville, Conn.

Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2021 inductee Paul Pierce speaks at a news conference at Mohegan Sun Sept. 10, 2021, in Uncasville, Conn.
(AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

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“And I remember that year. The All-Star Game was in D.C. I didn’t make the All-Star Game. I flew home. I didn’t even tell my friends. I flew to LA, I got a hotel room and I watched the All-Star Game. I ordered room service. And I was like, ‘I’m never coming home for the All-Star Game again.’ And then, after that, I made it every year from that point on.

“You know, sometimes you go through traumatic things, and it can take you one way or the other,” Pierce added. “And I just felt like it was a turn for the better. It doesn’t always have to be bad things that happen to you. It can be some good things that turn you. But, for me, it turned me, not only as a person, but as a player too.”

Paul Pierce attends a game between the Golden State Warriors and the Boston Celtics during Game 3 of the 2022 NBA Finals June 8, 2022, at the TD Garden in Boston.

Paul Pierce attends a game between the Golden State Warriors and the Boston Celtics during Game 3 of the 2022 NBA Finals June 8, 2022, at the TD Garden in Boston.
(Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

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Pierce averaged 19.7 points on 44.5% shooting in his career. Along with his 15 years with the Celtics, he played for the Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Clippers and Washington Wizards.


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