We sat in various parts of Terminal C in New Orleans’ Louis Armstrong Airport in February 2010, everyone waiting for a flight to Dallas for the NBA All-Star Game.

I heard the wheels and looked left. Paul Pierce, a hand clamped on each wheel, edged past the suitcases and extended legs of passengers, expertly swirling as if he had been practicing these wheelchair moves.
He had a strained left foot. He probably had no business playing in that All-Star Game. Phil Jackson had hung the drama queen label on Pierce after Game 1 of the 2008 Finals, when Pierce was helped into a wheelchair after leaving the floor in the third quarter, and returned in the fourth to bury back-to-back 3-pointers and win the game.

A nurse, or someone dressed as a nurse, wheeled a beaming, giggling Pierce onto the set of “Jimmy Kimmel Live” days after he was named MVP of the 2008 Finals. His arms cradled the Larry O’Brien trophy like an infant.

Two years later, and he was still clowning with Jackson.
“Ah, it’s nothing, I’m just kiddin’,” he said.

I asked if he was trying to keep that old 2008 joke alive, and he agreed.