Inglewood, Calif. — Paul Pierce is eager to help Shaquille O’Neal catch up to Kobe Bryant.
Pierce enthusiastically endorsed the Boston Celtics’ decision to sign O’Neal after Pierce’s No. 34 jersey was retired at Inglewood High School on Tuesday.
Boston owner Wyc Grousbeck said the Celtics decided to pursue O’Neal after Bryant’s playful remark after the Los Angeles Lakers’ Game 7 victory over Boston last June in the NBA finals. Bryant laughed about having one more championship ring than O’Neal, his former teammate with the Lakers.
The acquisition of O’Neal was one of several notable offseason moves made by the Celtics. O’Neal, who won three championships alongside Bryant, long ago gave Pierce his nickname — “The Truth.”
“I’m excited,” Pierce said of playing with O’Neal. “He’s one of my all-time favorite players, and now I have a chance to play with one of the greatest players to ever play the game.”
Pierce, a former high school McDonald’s All-American who played at Kansas University for three seasons, was honored by civic leaders and community members including Inglewood Mayor Daniel K. Tabor during a two-hour ceremony. Pierce grew up in Inglewood as a Lakers fan.
“This is a great day for me,” Pierce said. “It’s a great honor. There’s only a few people that have had their jersey retired at the high school.”