If the internet has taught us anything, it's that there's a certain art to trolling effectively. And if trolling is an art, then we should appreciate trolling's finest artists.
If there was any doubt in your mind about who is the greatest troll in NBA history going into Saturday's game, it should now be clear after Paul Pierce's 20 point performance that lifted the Wizards to a 93-86 overtime win in front of thousands of Raptors fans who welcomed Pierce with a "PAUL PIERCE SUCKS" chant and arrived back home to see Paul Pierce had left them a message on Instagram:
NBA history is filled with players who have embraced the villain role, from Bill Laimbeer to Bruce Bowen, but no one has been able get under someone's skin and back it up with their performance quite as well as The Truth. After Saturday's win, he talked to Michael Lee about how he's embraced the role in his career, albeit somewhat reluctantly:
"I don't mind playing the role of underdog, villain or whatever you want to call it. I was just trying to help my team win, try to give us a mental edge. If that's the role I'm going to play, I just got to embrace it. It's not that I'm a bad guy. Everybody knows I'm a good guy. I mean, off the court."
And sure, Paul Pierce probably is a great guy to be around off the court. I mean, a man who dresses up like Captain America for Halloween can't be that awful, but if anything, that should make his transformation into the NBA's greatest troll on the hardwood all the more impressive.
If you're still not ready to make the leap and say Pierce is the greatest troll in NBA history, consider the following:
Trolls annoy people by telling others what they're going to do, daring them to stop it, and doing it anyway
Keep in mind Paul Pierce did that in the middle of a playoff game.
Trolls don't let other people celebrate with them
Trolls make big deals out of small events
Trolls are not impressed by stardom
Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Trolls have a way of forcing themselves into conversations
Here's what Greivis Vasquez had to say on Sunday about Pierce's Game 1 performance, via CBS Sports' James Herbert:
"Man, I'll tell you this," Vasquez began. "This is the last day I'm going to answer anything about Paul Pierce. Paul Pierce is a Hall of Famer that knows what he's doing. Give him a lot of credit. He got you guys' attention, he got everybody's attention and if we keep talking about Paul Pierce, this is going to be a Paul Pierce series. It's not going to be the Wizards, it's just Paul Pierce. But what he's doing is motivating his team, talking trash, so why would we talk trash? I mean, I don't know if you're from Toronto but, like, we don't have any trash talkers in our locker room.
"He does what he does," Vasquez continued. "We respect that. We give him a lot of credit. He's got big balls. That's the reason he's the Truth. He's the Truth for a reason. What else can I tell you? Good for him. He's a Hall of Famer. We love his game. I'm a big fan, I got a picture of him, too. He's an animal. So that's it. We just gotta play. Paul Pierce is going to be Paul Pierce. I think that you guys gotta stop asking all of us questions about Paul Pierce. Let him do the talking, and we'll see at the end who's going to win the series. We give him a lot of respect. To him and to the whole team, to the Wizards. So we'll see what happens."
Trolls are at their most annoying when they do things that can't be stopped
More than all of Pierce's annoying quotes and antics, the thing that trolls other players and fans the most is how he always finds a way to outduel players who are bigger, stronger and supposedly more talented than him. He was the Finals MVP in a series that featured Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen and he outdueled LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony head to head in playoff series. He's beaten every MVP he's ever faced in a playoff series (Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose and LeBron James) at least once. As a troll, there's no better feeling than knowing you've beaten someone even though your opponent has all the advantages.
If you don't believe me, just ask anyone who saw Paul Pierce's latest trolling exhibit in Toronto on Saturday.