Former Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce lit into his former Nets teammates yesterday, calling the experience “horrible” and full of “vets who didn’t want to play and didn’t want to practice,” citing Deron Williams and Joe Johnson as unwilling to take a leadership stance with the team alongside he & fellow Celtics transplant Kevin Garnett.
There’s a worry that the comments, which come on the heels of Brooklyn’s final game of the season in a tight playoff race, could distract the team in a high-pressure situation. But while Johnson and Williams declined to speak with the media prior to the game, Nets coach Lionel Hollins said the comments didn’t faze him.
“I don’t really care (about the comments),” Hollins said during his normal media availability before the Nets took on the Orlando Magic. “I wasn’t here. I don’t care. All I can go by is how we are this year, and as I’ve said many many times, the vocal leader of our team early on was (Kevin Garnett), and since he’s left it’s been more of a collective.”
Hollins, who is in his first year as Nets coach, said he could not speak for last year’s situation, as Pierce did, but that he has had a positive experience with players despite the team’s underwhelming 37-44 record. After a 10-21 start with Pierce and Garnett last season, the Nets finished 44-38 and made the second round of the playoffs before losing to the Miami Heat.
Hollins seemed to allude to the idea that Pierce’s comments were nonsensical, though.
“My experience has been good,” Hollins said. “Paul Pierce is entitled to his opinion. All players have things that they say, and sometimes they get to have it in print or have it on air. It’s his opinion, he’s entitled to it.
“I don’t get into that kind of stuff. Players say stuff all the time. Sometimes it makes sense, sometimes it doesn’t. But they’re entitled to it.”