Jackie MacMullan interviewed Paul Pierce for what ended up being an awesome piece filled with gems. The 37-year-old Pierce was up-front about his time in Brooklyn and commented on a range of his experiences, including his time in Brooklyn, and what it was like interacting with some of his old teammates. Via ESPN:
"It was a tough situation (in Brooklyn) last year. Horrible, really.
"It was just the guys' attitudes there. It wasn't like we were surrounded by a bunch of young guys. They were vets who didn't want to play and didn't want to practice. I was looking around saying, 'What's this?' Kevin (Garnett) and I had to pick them up every day in practice.
"If me and Kevin weren't there, that team would have folded up. That team would have packed it in. We kept them going each and every day."
Of course, Mikhail Prokhorov brought in Pierce and Garnett in a blockbuster trade hoping that the duo would be a source of leadership to push Brooklyn over the edge. If nothing else, the trade ideally would have added a sense of identity to the newly minted organization in their transition from New Jersey.
Unfortunately for Prokhorov and Brooklyn however, the Nets were never able to make much noise. Instead, the Nets were the subject of some spotty, uninspired play that culminated in a Eastern semifinals exit (against Miami). Pierce explained that he and KG looked forward to playing with some of the big names on the roster, but point guard Deron Williams (among others) proved to be a let-down:
"Before I got there, I looked at Deron as an MVP candidate," Pierce said. "But I felt once we got there, that's not what he wanted to be. He just didn't want that.
"I think a lot of the pressure got to him sometimes. This was his first time in the national spotlight. The media in Utah is not the same as the media in New York, so that can wear on some people. I think it really affected him."
After hearing word of Pierce's comments, Williams was rather brief and seemingly unswayed in his response, via Sports Illustrated:
"He has his opinions, and that's fine. It's what it is. I can't change his opinions. So just leave it at that."
Pierce went on to detail his relationship (or perhaps lack-thereof) with Ray Allen, explaining that he was never particularly close with Allen off the court. In fact, it seems nobody was. Pierce noted the media's scrutiny over Ray Allen's relationships (i.e. butting heads with Rondo, unhappiness with Doc's allocation of minutes, KG spurning a fist-bump) but remained clear in emphasizing that Allen's camaraderie was just unlike other teammates:
"We were all good friends on the court, but Ray always did his own thing. That's just the way Ray was. Even when we were playing together, we'd be having a team dinner and Ray wouldn't show up. We'd go to his charity events but Ray wouldn't show up to somebody else's.
"I called him on it. I said, 'Man, Ray, we support all your stuff but when we ask you, you don't come to ours.' I remember when Rondo re-signed with Boston, we had a little dinner at a restaurant and Ray didn't show up.
"I know Ray probably didn't like Rondo that much, but it wasn't a fact of not liking somebody. You don't have to like everybody you play with -- it's a matter of showing support. Rondo probably didn't like Ray either, but he came to Ray's functions to show, 'Hey, we're together in this.'
"It's not a bad thing with Ray. We had a great relationship on the court. It just got to the point where it was, 'That's Ray.' No hard feelings. Everyone made such a big deal of us not talking after we left, but there really wasn't much there."
Some strong, though qualified words by the former Celtics captain and future HOFer. Love to see Paul Pierce keeping it real--but what else would you expect from a guy nicknamed The Truth? There has been no response yet from Allen (and it may remain that way), but if you had any doubt where his allegiance lies, Pierce added this:
"I would have stayed in Brooklyn because of Kevin," Pierce said. "I told him, 'I don't really like this situation but I would never leave you if you want me to stay.' But they decided not to re-sign me so I never had to make a choice. I would never have left Kevin like that.
"He's happy," Pierce said. "I'm glad he waived his no-trade clause. I told him, 'They don't appreciate you in Brooklyn, man.' They didn't even use him right.
"He's where he's supposed to be. He IS Minnesota. He never sold his house there."
Photo courtesy of Matt Stone / Boston Herald Austin Gill 4/17/2015 12:18:00 PM Tweet Edit