Paul Pierce reveals that he wanted to be drafted by the Clippers

Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul Pierce (34) Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul Pierce (34) Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

Ten-time NBA All-Star Paul Pierce recently revealed he wanted to be drafted by the Clippers when he was entering the NBA out of Kansas.

Paul Pierce may have ended his legendary 19-year NBA career with the Clippers, but if the 2008 Finals MVP had his way, that’s exactly where it would have began as well.

During an appearance on Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson’s All the Smoke podcast, Pierce revealed he worked out for the Clippers, who held the number one pick in the 1998 NBA Draft, and tried to get a second workout with the team to prove himself worthy of being the top overall pick.

Pierce was born and raised in Oakland but later moved to the Inglewood neighborhood of Los Angeles, where he attended Inglewood High School before moving on to become a First-Team All-American at Kansas. He spoke about being excited at the time for the opportunity to possibly start his professional career in his home state.

“The Clippers was the number one pick, and I was like, ‘Ooh, I wanna go home and play,’” Pierce said. “So I worked out for them, and then I asked them for a second workout… I was projected to go No. 2 to the Vancouver Grizzlies. Clippers wanted a big man, they picked [Michael] Olowokandi.”

Pierce ended up going tenth in the draft that year, one pick after Milwaukee selected Dirk Nowitzki before trading him to Dallas. Pierce went on to become one of the greatest Celtics players ever being named an All-Star ten times, making four All-NBA teams, and, of course, helping lead the Celtics to the 2007-08 NBA title.

The Clippers choice of Michael Olowokandi didn’t quite land them the type of superstar big man they were hoping for. The product out of the University of the Pacific, by way of Nigeria, ended up playing five seasons for Los Angeles, before finishing off the rest of his ten-year career with stints in Minnesota and Boston.

Looking back and asking “what if” on past NBA drafts can drive a fan crazy. It’s even more difficult when the Clippers missed on greats like Pierce, Nowitzki, and Vince Carter by selecting Olowokandi with the number one pick. It’s especially tough when learning that one of those future Hall-of-Famers was actively lobbying to be picked by his hometown team.

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The 1998-99 Clippers squad isn’t much too memorable but the franchise would find themself adding Lamar Odom in the following draft, Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson in 2000, and by the 2001-02 season would add both Corey Maggette and Elton Brand via trades. Having Pierce as an anchor to that unit would have given the Clippers a young core with a bright decade of basketball ahead of them.

If only they would have given him that second workout.