HOW PAUL PIERCE BECAME THE TRUTH is a notable story, but perhaps even more remarkable is how perfectly the nickname has come to suit him.

Despite his immense talent and desire, Paul spent much of his early career without the admiration regularly heaped upon more showy, self-interested superstars. He never talked about himself in the third person or about his own greatness. For Paul Pierce, playing basketball was simply about that — playing the game from the tip to the final buzzer, and playing as hard and as well as you possibly could.

Even after winning a championship, nothing has changed.

THE BIRTH OF THE TRUTH

March 13, 2001. Paul, in his third year in the league, traveled to Los Angeles to face the Lakers.

The game ended in a 112-107 loss for Boston, but the performance of No. 34 stunned his opponents and much of the Hollywood crowd. Paul had scored an astounding 42 points on 13-19 shooting , uncorking his entire repertoire, showing the moves that compelled his coach, Rick Pitino, to call him the “total package.”

The following short ESPN piece recounts what happened next.

After the game, Shaquille O’Neal — already an NBA champion — pulled a Boston reporter aside in the locker room.

“Take this down. My name is Shaquille O’Neal, and Paul Pierce is the [expletive] truth. Quote me on that, and don’t take nothing out. I knew he could play, but I didn’t know he could play like this. Paul Pierce is the truth.”

And just like that, a legend was recognized.