SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Initially, Paul Pierce’s challenge was for a one-on-one 3-point shootout with teammate and long-range specialist Ray Allen at All-Star Weekend later this month in Los Angeles.
“He’s the 3-point king,” Pierce said. “But I’m the 3-point champ.”
But playing a promoter’s role at shootaround this morning, Pierce wanted to defend his 3-point contest title against any and all of the league’s top shooters.
“I’m just trying to go against the best,” Pierce said. “I’m just trying to figure out who the best shooters are of this era, and I’m just trying to challenge them. Ray’s definitely one of them. Who else? Dirk Nowitzki? Peja Stojacovic? I want them all to come out. This is something you might want to see.”
Stojacovic is a two-time 3-point champion (2002, 2003). Nowitzki won the crown in 2006. Allen knocked down 10 straight shots when he won the 2001 title. Although he’s seen Pierce and Allen shoot it out in practice, Celtics coach Doc Rivers wasn’t ready to make a concrete pick.
“I don’t know,” Rivers said. “I’m probably going with Ray in any shooting contest, but they do it a lot, and they pretty much are split when they play. They’re both pretty good shooters, especially when they’re by themselves, then they’re really good shooters.”
Pierce made shooting the 3-ball a priority last season, knocking down a 44.8 percent of his long-range shots before the all-star break, for a while looking to erase Celtics president Danny Ainge out of the top spot for the single-season 3-point percentage.
Allen has the long-standing reputation for being deadly from long distance. With 2,548 career 3’s, he’s 13 away from passing Pacers’ legend Reggie Miller and becoming the all-time leader. But Pierce has argued to anyone who will listen that had he spent his career solely as a 3-point shooter rather than a slasher and scorer, he would have gone down as one of the best shooters in the game. He’s made 1,538 3-pointers in his career, and by the end of the season he should slide by Tim Hardaway, Eddie Jones and Glen Rice into the ninth spot all-time.
A 3-point matchup with Allen, he said, would be a prize fight in the making, which is why he’s asking the league to make it happen in three weeks.
“You get two players of that caliber,” Pierce said. “It’s meant for a worldwide stage. You don’t just put Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather in Eagle High School gym to fight.