Sixteen-year NBA veteran Paul Pierce has enjoyed a pretty eventful summer, even by professional athlete standards. From hanging with Al Pacino, to competing at the World Series of Poker Main Event, to signing a contract with a new franchise in Washington, the former Kansas University star has kept himself plenty busy.
Still, Pierce found a way to drop some knowledge this summer, too. Through his website, PaulPierce.net, the 10-time All-Star known as “The Truth” is sharing his personal hoops history.
The site's latest installment in its “Know the Truth” series focuses on Pierce's three seasons at Kansas. He shared the piece with his 3 million-plus Facebook fans on Thursday.
The post features plenty of old photos of a very young Pierce in crimson and blue, as well as some background on what brought him all the way to Lawrence, away from the powerhouse in his back yard, UCLA, and his many other options.
“I felt like I needed to get away from home—I was turning into a mama’s boy, man, because both my brothers were older and so they were out of the house. When I was in junior high school, they were already in college, and so it was just me and my mom. So I felt like a lot of times my mom babied me, you know, because I was the youngest,” Paul told ESPN’s Dan Patrick in 2003. “So I was like, man, I need to get away. I need to get away and grow up and be on my own.”
And what voyage into reminiscing would be complete without a handy (and pre-HD) highlight video?
Check out the full post for more on Pierce's time at KU.
When Cleveland, Milwaukee and Philadelphia popped up as the NBA franchises which hit the lottery jackpot and owned the highly desirable top three picks in the 2014 draft, it seemed fair to assume Kansas University products Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid would end up in two of those cities.
Maybe the former Jayhawks end up donning a Cavs, Bucks or 76ers cap June 26 in Brooklyn.
Here is a look at the chatter coming out of the three cities in question.
The Cavaliers have their choice of any player in the NBA Draft — Wiggins, Embiid, Duke's Jabari Parker. Whomever.
But The Plain Dealer's Mary Schmitt Boyer thinks Cleveland could trade away that right to some other franchise in order to land an established NBA star.
The Cavs were slotted at No. 9 before the lottery played out and they somehow nabbed the top pick for the third time in four years. No one is complaining about 2011 selection Kyrie Irving. However, Cleveland hasn't made the NBA Playoffs since LeBron James bolted for Miami in 2010. What's worse, the organization appears to have blown it in 2013, when they took Anthony Bennett (4.2 points, 3.0 rebounds as a rookie) No. 1 overall.
They have to get it right this time. And doing so might involve trading the pick, if that means Cleveland can get someone like Minnesota's Kevin Love in return.
Cavs general manager David Griffin, as quoted by Schmitt Boyer, won't rule out any scenario:
"We're going to try to get radically better much quicker. We really feel like there's a sense of urgency about improving our team as a whole. We're going to look for the right fit and we're very open-minded about what that means.''
The strategy behind trading the pick for a proven NBA vet would be to make the roster more attractive to James, who could opt to leave Miami as a free agent if he so desires.
Love would be Cleveland's top choice — meaning Minnesota could be a destination for Wiggins or Embiid.
But Schmitt Boyer identified some other big-name NBA big men Cleveland should try to trade for in Memphis, Miami and Portland. So who knows what the Cavs will end up doing with the pick. They certainly have options.
If Cleveland can't find a deal that makes sense, or just decides to keep the top pick, who should they draft?
The Plain Dealer's Jodie Valade addressed that question, and provided some more insight from Griffin:
"I think it's not necessarily limited to three names that are more highly hyped. We've got to do a more thorough evaluation of all of the guys to know that we're not doing something too quickly. When you're looking at the guys who have all the hype they have that because of their upside and athleticism."
That sounds like crazy talk. And Griffin might not have even meant what he said.
Let's assume Cleveland doesn't pick a wild card again at No. 1. Valade wrote that Wiggins would become the Cavs' third Canadian, joining Bennett and Tristan Thompson. Plus, the high-flying KU product would fill "the glaring need they've had at small forward for four years," since LeBron left.
As for Embiid, she said the 7-footer is "still developing, which is always intriguing for teams."
In the Plain-Dealer's online poll, more than 50% of Cavs fans wanted the team to take Wiggins. Embiid was third, behind Parker, with about 22% of the votes.
The Bucks (15-67) had the league's worst record in the 2013-14 season, thereby obtaining the best odds to win the draft lottery. But they clearly didn't have the luck of Cleveland (33-49).
Although speculation began even before the lottery that certain agents might try to somehow manipulate pre-draft interactions with Milwaukee in order to deter the team from drafting their clients, Bucks co-owner Wesley Edens doesn't think they will be so unlucky on that front.
The Journal Sentinel's Charles F. Gardner spoke with Edens about how the organization plans to work with the top prospects.
"I think they'll all want to work out for Milwaukee. It's a great place to be; it's a great place to play. At the end I think we'll get the player that the organization really wants."
The Milwaukee newspaper identified five potential picks for the Bucks at No. 2 — Embiid, Wiggins, Parker, Kentucky's Julius Randle and Dante Exum, of Australia — and examined how each player might fit in with the pieces already in place.
• Journal Sentinel on Embiid:
"… could be a once-in-a-generation center and would immediately bolster the front court. With Embiid at center, the Bucks could consider using Larry Sanders at power forward. Adding Embiid, though, might mean that Milwaukee will want to trade one of its current forwards or centers."
• Journal Sentinel on Wiggins:
"The addition of Wiggins would give the Bucks yet another athletic wing player as well as a player who can score. Some of Milwaukee's wing players struggled with man-to-man defense last year and Wiggins would shore up the Bucks on that end."
Unlike Cleveland, it seems Milwaukee isn't floating the idea of moving its top pick. The Journal Sentiel's Charles F. Gardner interviewed Milwaukee general manager John Hammond, who appears more interested in a young player who can grow with the rebuilding franchise.
"This is where we want to be, to be honest with you. We want to be in a position where we can start building this, and I think we need to build it through the draft."
At this point, it seems like Philadelphia is the least likely destination for Wiggins or Embiid among the franchises with the top three picks.
Philly.com's first mock draft doesn't expect either to be around when the Sixers pick at No. 3.
Even so, The Inquirer's Keith Pompey wrote than one anonymous agent thinks Wiggins will work out for the Sixers, as well as the Cavs and Bucks — but not for any other teams.
Pompey also spoke with Philadelphia general manager Sam Hinkie, who doesn't think the organization will have to worry about top players being uninterested in the franchise.
"I suspect from our discussions thus far that most of the top players in this draft find Philadelphia an attractive place because they want to be in a place where they'll have opportunity. They want to play in a big market and recognize what a platform it is to play in Philadelphia."
Inquirer sports columnist Bob Ford wrote about a scenario in which Wiggins and Parker are off the board when it's time for the 76ers to pick.
Surprisingly, he thought the organization might trade the pick to a team that covets Embiid:
Since the Sixers appear to be building their frontcourt around Nerlens Noel and have a playing-style philosophy that doesn't include two 7-footers in the starting lineup, they could find themselves in a powerful spot.
The Sixers picked Noel sixth in 2013. He missed the entire season due to a knee injury. For some reason, people in Philadelphia think Noel's presence means the Sixers should avoid Embiid. Michael Kaskey-Blomain wrote about that subject on philly.com.
We'll have to wait and see if the team's front office feels the same way — if the Sixers even get a chance at the Cameroon native who looks the part of a future all-star.
Philly.com also posted a photo gallery that included how each of the draft's top 10 prospects would fit in with the 76ers. Again, they were down on Embiid. Wiggins, on the other hand...
He has been prone to turning over the ball and that could be the case in a high-volume offense like Brett Brown’s. However, Wiggins probably would be the most valuable asset to acquire given Brown’s speedy and transition-heavy offense.
Say what you will about the one-and-done rule and players who only spend their freshman year wearing a particular college basketball team's colors. But when a coach lands future NBA lottery picks like Kansas University's Bill Self did in Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, it really does help the program.
Would the Jayhawks have a far better chance of winning a national championship in 2015 with Wiggins and Embiid back as sophomores? Of course.
However, the rules in place allow them to begin their professional careers now. And because they are so highly regarded, the faces and voices of Wiggins and Embiid already have been all over the media landscape for interviews leading up to Tuesday night's NBA Draft Lottery.
Guess what inevitably comes up every time they do an interview? KU, Lawrence, the Jayhawks' devoted fan base or how much they enjoyed their time there.
Even Self appeared on ESPN's Outside The Lines on Tuesday to discuss the draft process and KU's two potential top-three picks.
June 26 — the day of the 2014 NBA Draft — is "Andrew Wiggins Day" in his hometown of Vaughan, Ontario, Canada. But Monday might as well have been Wiggins Day at ESPN.
The well-prepped 19-year-old bounced around the sports network's campus doing multiple interviews.
On "First Take," Stephen A. Smith tried to get Wiggins to brag about himself and why he should be the No. 1 pick in the draft.
Never one to sing his own praises, Wiggins finally caved a little to Smith, who insisted he make a case for himself as the top choice:
"I'll always put myself number one, over anybody else. That's just me. I've got a lot of confidence in myself."
On "Numbers Never Lie," co-host Michael Smith tried to get Wiggins to commit to next year's dunk contest on the spot. The high-flying Canadian wouldn't give a yes or no answer, but again handled it well.
Wiggins also went on SVP & Russillo. Listen to the interview by clicking here.
On Tuesday, the media blitz continued, with Wiggins doing a live chat on NBA.com with Rick Fox. Both Wiggins and Embiid did radio interviews on SiriusXM's NBA channel, too.
All of that came after a morning public appearance and autograph session in Times Square, leading up to tonight's lottery in New York.
Guess what. They'll both be in attendance for that, too, as ESPN broadcasts it live, beginning at 7 p.m.
Remember: the more often Kansas has players of this caliber, moving on to the NBA as coveted commodities, the more future classes of top recruits will be interested in following in their gigantic footsteps.