I was looking forward to tomorrow's ORL-BOS game when I came across this -> http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sport...,1447700.story
How easily some of us forget how far Pierce has come along.
Attack on Paul Pierce gave Tony Battie perspective on his life, strengthened their bond
By BRIAN SCHMITZ | SENTINEL STAFF WRITER
December 1, 2008
BOSTON — Sometimes, teammates are forever teammates.
No matter if a trade or a transaction separates them and sends them to different cities, some bonds are unbreakable.
There are a lot of reasons why Orlando Magic center/forward Tony Battie is so happy for Boston forward Paul Pierce, who led the Celtics to a title and was named MVP of the NBA Finals in June.
And the most important ones go beyond basketball.
Eight years ago, in the wee hours of Sept. 25, Battie was driving at breakneck speed to a Boston hospital.
Pierce, his Celtics teammate, was lying in his car, drenched in blood.
Battie was imploring him to hang on.
Pierce, Battie and Battie's brother, Derrick, had been at a nightclub where Pierce was jumped by three men, stabbed 11 times, punched and kicked repeatedly and hit over the head with a champagne bottle. He was carried to Battie's car by security personnel after the fight.
"It was frantic," recalled Tony. "We didn't know how badly injured he was at the time. I guess it was probably better not knowing."
Pierce has said that he asked emergency-room doctors if he was going to die, given the amount of blood he lost from his face, neck and back.
After he underwent lung surgery, a physician told him that the heavy leather jacket he was wearing might have softened the blows, sparing his life.
Three men were charged in the attack, with two serving time in prison for assault while the other was acquitted at trial.
"I was there [at the nightclub], but I didn't visually see what had happened," Battie said. "It was very challenging, a life-changing experience for him. But knowing his character, if anybody could pull through something like that, Paul would be the guy."
Battie said he was in the establishment's bathroom when Pierce was attacked. He felt guilty for some time because he didn't have his teammate's back.
"It affected me for the simple fact that he was my teammate. I'm there with him, and something like that was happening and I wasn't there to help him," Battie said. "It weighed on me pretty good.
"I was a little mentally depressed about it for a while, but as Paul recovered, so did I."
Pierce recovered from his wounds in time to start the 2000-01 season. He said his thoughts drifted back to that harrowing night after the Celtics won the title this summer.
Celtics Coach Doc Rivers said, "I was watching him hold that trophy, and I was thinking to myself, 'Paul Pierce was not just almost out the league. He was almost dead.'
"And now he is the Finals MVP. You tell me. Who else has had a turnaround like that?"
For Battie, the brutal attack on Pierce made him prioritize his life while also opening his eyes.
"We're all people before we're players. This is what we do; this is not really who we are. Outside the bright lights and jerseys and screaming fans, we're fathers, we're brothers, we're sons. We're just regular people, but something like that does put things in perspective. For some reason, ... somebody wants to do you bodily harm, whether you're a celebrity or a regular Joe," he said.
"It made me be more aware of my surroundings."
Battie was traded by the Celtics in December of 2003 to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs dealt him to Orlando the following season. Even though Battie only had been in the NBA one more season than Pierce, he had taken him under his wing in Boston.
Battie will see his old friend tonight when the Magic face the Celtics, glad to see that Paul Pierce's story has hit a happy crescendo.
"That's the best part about it," Battie said. "I'm just happy for him. He was my rookie. I showed him the ropes. He was like my little brother and still is."