Morning sports update: Did Paul Pierce actually reveal the truth about why he needed a wheelchair?

"I have a confession to make."

Paul Pierce Wheelchair
Paul Pierce is carried off the court during Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals. He would briefly exit in a wheelchair. Stan Grossfeld, Globe Staff Photo

The Bruins face the Blues tonight at TD Garden in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. The series is tied 2-2.

On Wednesday night, the Red Sox rolled to an 8-0 win over the Royals behind Chris Sale’s complete game, 12-strikeout performance.

And also on Wednesday, the Raptors took down the Warriors in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, 123-109. Toronto now has a surprising 2-1 series lead.

Paul Pierce admitted to a famous NBA conspiracy theory…and then retracted it: In Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals, Celtics forward Paul Pierce crumpled to the ground in what appeared to be immense pain. Celtics fans feared the worst as Pierce exited with the help of a wheelchair that he was placed in.


Yet minutes later, Pierce reappeared to the roar of the TD Garden crowd, nailing a three that gave the Celtics a third quarter lead (Boston went on to win the game). It quickly became a celebrated moment among local fans, but a point of controversy around the rest of the NBA.

Did Paul Pierce actually need to go to the bathroom? And did he need the wheelchair to avoid an embarrassing situation? As preposterous as those questions may sound, they are the cause of one of the NBA’s strangest conspiracy theories.

Jason Concepcion of The Ringer wrote a detailed breakdown of the Pierce-Wheelchair conspiracy in 2017. Though he concluded that it wasn’t true, the theory endured.

Flash forward to Wednesday night. Pierce, now an ESPN analyst, made what appeared to be a bombshell admission during a pregame broadcast.

When ESPN colleague Michelle Beedle reminded Pierce that this moment had occurred on that day (June 5) 11 years before, he jumped in with a surprise.

“I have a confession to make,” Pierce said. “I just needed to go to a bathroom.”

Shockwaves were sent cascading around NBA Twitter as it appeared Pierce had confirmed the longstanding theory.

Yet later that night, Pierce took to Twitter to share a clarification:


The conspiracy theorizing continues.

Trivia: Patrice Bergeron recently moved into second place on the Bruins’ all-time playoff scoring list. Who is the only player who is still ahead of him? (Check the bottom of the article to find the answer).

Hint: He finally won the Stanley Cup in the last game of his career at the age of 40.

More from Boston.com:

Chris Sale was immaculate (again): Red Sox ace Chris Sale pitched his best game of the season to this point on Wednesday night. His complete game shutout was highlighted by his second “immaculate inning” of the season. (An immaculate inning is when a pitcher strikes out all three batters in an inning on the minimum nine pitches).

Sale’s accomplishment (it was just the sixth immaculate inning in Red Sox history) puts him in elite company with another famous lefty:

Alex Cora explained how he’s been coaxing the best from Rafael Devers: During his regular radio interview with “Ordway, Merloni & Fauria,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora praised Rafael Devers’s recent defense at third base as “elite.” And he revealed how he’s been motivating May’s American League Player of the Month after correcting an early managerial mistake in the season.


“I stopped doing gift cards,” Cora said. “That was a bad idea. Everything is incentive-drive. You tell him, ‘OK, five dollars if you hit the wall’ and boom he hits the wall. OK, $75 dollar certificate for your favorite restaurant if you walk. And all of a sudden he walks five times in three days.”

The Red Sox drafted a Florida Gators quarterback: In the 31st round of the MLB draft, the Red Sox selected right-handed pitcher Felipe Franks. The only problem is that Franks hasn’t played baseball since high school, and he’s now a redshirt junior on the University of Florida football team.

Franks is the Gators’ starting quarterback, having thrown 24 touchdowns in 2018. He announced shortly afterward through the Florida football team’s Twitter that he would be staying where he is:

Kyrie Irving caught up with a crossing guard from his past:

On this day: In 1944, Major League Baseball suspended games for the day out of respect for the D-Day landings in Normandy, France. Former Red Sox outfielder (and Boston native) Sy Rosenthal reportedly served on a ship supporting the landings that day.

Rosenthal, whose Major League career lasted just two years from 1925-1926 due to persistent injuries, was the first Jewish player in Red Sox history. He volunteered for the military after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December, 1941, but was rejected on account of loose cartilage in his knee. Rosenthal paid to have surgery done so that he could join. On Sept. 22, 1942, he was accepted into the U.S. Navy at the age of 38.


His son, Irvin (“Buddy”) Rosenthal, joined the U.S. Marines at just 17 years old. Tragically, Irvin was killed on Christmas Day in 1943 in the South Pacific.

Following D-Day, Rosenthal was transferred to the minesweeper USS Miantonomah. On Sept. 25, 1944, the ship struck at least one German mine and sank. Rosenthal escaped the wreckage, but was seriously injured by the blast. He would be a paraplegic for the remainder of his life.

Having liquidated his business to pay for the medical procedures done so he could join the military, Rosenthal returned home with very little money. The Red Sox helped raise money to build him a home by hosting “Sy Rosenthal Day” in 1947.

A story written about Rosenthal in the Jewish Advocate in 1960 noted that “there is barely an hour when he is free from pain.” Yet he remained heavily engaged in helping raise money for charitable causes until his death in 1969. He was buried next to his son in West Roxbury.

Daily highlight: Fred VanVleet nailed a miraculous (and clutch) three to help the Raptors win Game 3:

Trivia answer: Ray Bourque