(Gray News) - June 5, 2008, is a date Boston Celtics fans will always hold dear to their hearts.
In what has since become known as “The Wheelchair Game,” the Celtics played in their first NBA Finals since 1987. They took Game 1 against their longtime rival, the Los Angeles Lakers, in large part due to Paul Pierce.
He left the game in the third quarter with a knee injury after landing on Kendrick Perkins’ leg. Pierce had to be carried off the court and then rolled into the locker room in a wheelchair.
The visible anguish on his face crushed any belief he’d play again that night.
But he did.
He stormed back to the game mere minutes later with extra spring in his step, sparking a rousing ovation from the fans and his teammates.
Pierce scored 15 points in the third quarter and nailed back-to-back 3-point shots to give Boston the lead for good.
The bounce he walked with indicated there was no discomfort in his knee.
Now, 11 years later, we know his discomfort had been some place else.
During this year’s pregame coverage of Game 3, Pierce admitted he never had a knee injury.
“I have a confession to make,” Pierce said. “I just had to go to the bathroom.”
Co-hosts Jalen Rose and Chauncey Billups found great amusement in Pierce’s confession. Billups asked why Pierce needed a wheelchair just to go to the bathroom.
“Something went down,” Pierce said. “I had to go to a restroom.”
Pierce’s swift recovery had long fueled speculation that he faked his injury. Some believed he had staged his injury so he could motivate his teammates with a Willis Reed-like moment.
Reed, who had suffered a torn muscle in his right thigh, shocked his teammates and fans when he limped out of the locker room to play in Game 7 of the 1970s Finals. He hit two shots and helped propel the New York Knicks to the title.