It all started eight years ago when NCAA fans began to compare him with The Truth. Some fans joked that Shavon Shields is a headband away from being Paul Pierce, which makes Shields laugh. But they share some similarities in the way they play and how they were accepted in the league.

"Take this down," Shaquille O'Neal said to Boston Herald reporter Steve Bulpett, after a tough Los Angeles Lakers victory over Boston Celtics 112-107 in 2001. Pierce scored 42 points on 13 of 19 shooting that night.

"My name is Shaquille O'Neal, and Paul Pierce is the motherfucking truth. Quote me on that, and don't take anything out. I knew he could play, but I didn't know he could play like this. Paul Pierce is The Truth."

We also knew Shavon Shields could play. 

He scored 31 points twice in the Italian Serie A playoffs against Milan back in 2018. Later he joined Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz, where he poured in 22 points vs. Zeljko's Fenerbahce Istanbul, 18 points vs. FC Barcelona, and 17 in the playoff series vs. CSKA Moscow. 

But we didn't know he could play like this and anchor Messina's project in Milan.

In the 2020-21 season, Shields was the second best scorer of AX Armani Exchange (13.8 ppg on 55.5% two-point and 43.2% three-point shooting) and the most efficient player in Messina's squad.

He was selected to the All-EuroLeague second team and was a huge reason why Milan made the Final Four after 29 years.

"He was a good player," Shields recalls Paul Pierce. "The way he moved, the things like that, I thought that I can emulate more than somebody else who's not crazy athletic. I felt like he related to me more, and I really liked his game a lot."

But that comparison of being a headband away from Pierce makes him smile.

"I don't know about all of that," Shields laughed. "I'm not as good as he was, but I emulate my game after him. I really enjoyed watching him play and learning things from him."

2-pointers this season

54%
18,7
Points made: 18,7
Accuracy: 53,8%
Place in standings: 11
Record max: 25
Record min: 13
Most made 2FGs: Shavon Shields

The Truth is simple. 

Shields can remind you of Paul Pierce with his fundamentals, inside and outside the game, body control. They both aren't super athletes, but they always find a way to the rim.

But behind all these basketball qualities, Shields was also following one of his biggest life inspirations. His dad Will, who is the NFL Hall of Famer. He made his career through discipline, work ethic, and grind.

"During the season, he was usually gone before we got off to school at the facility doing treatment, watching the film. I take a lot of after that to try to be professional, responsible, show up on time, work hard, do your job, and things usually work out for the best," Shields said on BasketNews Talks.

Right after winning the Spanish championship, Shields received a call from Ettore Messina. The famous EuroLeague coach had a big vision for Milan's club and was ready to build something special.

"I liked what they put together here in Milan. It was something I wanted to be a part of. Something that we're working every day to build together, and hopefully we'll get there sooner than later," Shields said.

Despite other big names that joined AX Armani Exchange, Shields emerged as one of the best forwards in the tournament. But that wouldn't have happened without his teammates.

"I got to give credit to the coaches that we have here and my teammates," Shields admitted. "They put me in great positions to be able to do that, help and produce in that type of way. People like Gigi, Kyle, Chacho, who have been there around and done it before, even Micov."

"They had done it before, so they have the advice and experience to say, maybe you should do this here, look for this on this play. That is instrumental for developing and learning different aspects of the game and looking at it in a different way. Honestly, I got to give all the credit to them," Shields added.

This year Shields is on a mission with reshaped AX Armani Exchange team. They were only one shot away from making the finals. The Italians made crucial adjustments by bringing Nicolo Melli, Dinos Mitoglou, Devon Hall, Troy Daniels, Jerian Grant, and Giampaolo Ricci. 

"There's a thin line between winning and losing. A rebound here missed shot there, missed box out, foul. It's a really thin line between winning and losing, and we were on the wrong side," Shields explained his lessons from his first Final Four experience.

"Nicolo brings size, experience, high basketball IQ, and physicality. He can pretty much do everything on the basketball court. He's going to be huge for us. He's the captain and a huge signing for us," Shields explained what Melli, Hall, and Mitoglou acquisitions added to the team.

"Devon is another playmaker on the court. He can score, defend, rebound. He's going to be big for us. Dino is adding size. He can shoot, rebound. You know all those things to play 4 and 5. Everybody that we brought in has an opportunity to bring a big impact and to take us to the next level," Shields said on BasketNews Talks. "I think we're working in the right direction. We started the season pretty well, and we just got to keep building day by day. Hopefully, at the end of the season, we'll be where we want to be."

His mind is clear even if you bring the NBA into the conversation. Shields had an NBA out clause in his contract past off-season. Soon he signed an extension with Milan in September. Now he's under the contract until the end of the 2022-23 season.

"Right now, I think it's a disservice not only to me but also my team if my head is somewhere else," Shields commented on NBA possibilities. "Right now, my head is here in Milan where my feet are. I'm trying to help win championships. If the opportunity presents itself, then maybe. But right now, I'm where I want to and need to be, and I'm happy with that."

Watch the entire conversation with Shavon Shields on BasketNews Talks:

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Shavon Shields

Shavon  Shields
Team: AX Armani Exchange Milan
Position: SF
Age: 27
Height: 201 cm
Weight: 98 kg
Birth place: United States of America