James Harden Cites Celtics Legend as One of His Biggest Influences

James Harden

Getty James Harden

Paul Pierce is a Hall-of-Famer, but the Boston Celtics legend is typically not considered one of the best players ever. Still, his offensive repertoire influenced some of the very best scorers in NBA history, like James Harden.

The former MVP and Los Angeles Clippers star revealed that Pierce was one of his biggest influences growing up. In an interview with The Ringer’s Andrew Greif, Harden explained how Pierce “formed me into who I am.”

Per Greif, Harden explained his three biggest influences in an April 19 story.

“Kobe Bryant for his dynamism; Paul Pierce for his physicality, stepbacks, and midrange jumpers; and Manu Ginobili—a fellow lefty—for his downhill drives, side steps, and twisting finishes at the rim.”

Pierce was not a flashy athlete like some of the stars in his era, such as Bryant and Allen Iverson. However, he could score both inside and outside the three-point line. He also had a knack for drawing fouls. Harden had a similar style, knowing how to draw fouls while also mastering how to score from anywhere on the court.

Though they came in at different times and never played together, Pierce and Harden played in the NBA from 2009 to 2017.

James Harden Compared Himself to Paul Pierce Before

Before the Oklahoma City Thunder drafted Harden in 2009, reporters asked him which player he compared himself to. Sure enough, Harden said he played like two players.

“(I’m) Ginobili and Paul Pierce put together, who can fight his way to the basket. Who can shoot the pull-up now (and) can shoot the deep, deep three-balls. Just whatever the coach needs me to do, he does,” Harden said, per DraftExpress’ YouTube Channel.

Both Pierce and Ginobili are in the Hall of Fame for their NBA contributions, and it goes without saying that Harden has a better resume than those two. He won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award and competed for multiple others, even if he only won it once.

Harden likely won’t retire for another few years, but he will unquestionably be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer once he is eligible.

Paul Pierce Believes Jayson Tatum is the New Face of the NBA

Though he stopped playing for the Celtics in 2013, Pierce still keeps tabs on the current team. While talking with Kevin Garnett, Pierce explained why he believes Tatum is the new face of the NBA.

“I truly believe (Tatum) will be the face of the league,” Pierce said. “Best American-born player today. I think he’s the best American right now. And I think he has to just get the critics off his back so I’m going with him.”

Garnett himself wasn’t sure if he agreed with Pierce’s sentiment about Tatum when he posted Pierce’s words on his X account.

“Jayson Tatum is already a superstar, but is he ready to take over as the face of the NBA? (Expletive), (Pierce) thinks so. Y’all agree or nah?

Tatum has made multiple All-NBA First teams, made multiple conference finals runs, and even made an NBA Finals run at 26. His one criticism has been his failure to win a title, but not many star players won a title at his age.