Former teammate says Paul Pierce was ‘hell-bent’ on proving he could guard Kobe Bryant: ‘Don’t help me!’

Justin Benjamin
3 Min Read

Los Angeles Lakers icon Kobe Bryant and Boston Celtics legend Paul Pierce had their fair share of epic battles.

Former Celtics big man Leon Powe recently told Jared Weiss of The Athletic that Pierce had a passionate desire to prove he could contain Bryant.

“I remember in the Finals, Paul was picking up Kobe damn near full court. Full court!” Powe said. “We got in a timeout, and we said, ‘You don’t have to pick up Kobe full court.’ He looked at us and said, ‘Nah! Nah! I got him! I got him! I don’t need no help!’ That’s all he kept saying. He kept repeating, ‘Don’t help me!’”

Bryant was the league’s MVP when the Celtics and Lakers took each other on in the 2008 NBA Finals. Nonetheless, Pierce was adamant he had what it took to stop the sharpshooter.

“But Paul was very insistent that, ‘I want to guard these guys. I want to do this.’” Powe said. “Then he would say, ‘I don’t need no help.’ We’d be inching over, and he’d send us back. We’d never seen P like that. He was just hell-bent on proving a point that he can guard Kobe, that he can guard for this team and do the necessary thing to win the championship.

“He did a heck of a job on Kobe in the Finals,” Powe continued. “You ain’t gonna stop Kobe. Nobody is going to stop him. But you can make it tough, and you can make him work, and I felt P did that. He picked up full court, and we ain’t never seen Paul Pierce pick up anybody full court.”

Of course, the Celtics defeated the Lakers in six games in the 2008 NBA Finals.

Bryant averaged 25.7 points, 5.0 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 2.7 steals per game, and Pierce collected 21.8 points, 6.3 assists and 4.5 boards per game during the series. The Celtics star was named the 2008 NBA Finals MVP.

While the Lakers lost to the Celtics in the Finals that year, they went on to win a championship against the Orlando Magic in 2009. In addition, the Lakers got their revenge in a rematch with the Celtics during the 2010 NBA Finals.

The Purple and Gold defeated the Celtics in seven games as Bryant was named Finals MVP.

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Justin’s enormous respect for LeBron James has ignited him to write for the King and Lakers. His all-around analysis and heart for the game has made him a stellar NBA writer and proud staff writer for Lakers Daily.