In an interview with Sports Illustrated, former Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce talked about his lone season in Brooklyn, admitting that he struggled through the hard times and had moments where he thought he would’ve liked to have stayed in Boston.
An excerpt from the interview:
SI.com: Looking back, what was last season in Brooklyn like?
Pierce: “It was a roller coaster, definitely. A lot of emotion went into it. Going through what we went through last year, I had a lot of thoughts like, ‘Shoot, I could have just stayed in Boston.’ [The Celtics] were going through some of the same things we were going through in Brooklyn. The key was to stay positive. Times change, you have to move on, and that is what I eventually did.”
SI.com: Was moving on from Boston more difficult than you thought it would be?
Pierce: “It was. I thought after a few weeks I would be all right. Then all those feelings resurfaced when I went back to play there, then they come back again when I went back to play again. It was tough to even play in that building. Every time you thought you put it behind you, it kept resurfacing. It was hard.”
SI.com: You hadn’t been a true free agent in a long time before this summer. Was it strange?
Pierce: “I really didn’t know at first. I thought I would end up back in Brooklyn. Talking to Kevin [Garnett], we created a bond over the years and I said I would come back and finish it out with him. Things didn’t go the way we wanted, obviously. Brooklyn went in a different direction. I had to make a choice.”
The Nets acquired Pierce from the Celtics in July 2013 with Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry, hoping the deal would turn them into championship contenders. Pierce reportedly convinced Garnett to waive his no-trade clause to let the deal go through. But the Nets tumbled out to a 10-21 start and spent the second half of the season playing catch-up.
The Nets reportedly offered Pierce a two-year deal below what he wanted, then moved on when Pierce’s representation wanted to come back to the table. He eventually signed a two-year deal with the Washington Wizards for roughly $11 million. When including the luxury tax, signing Pierce to a deal like that would’ve cost the Nets roughly the same amount that LeBron James will cost the Cavaliers this year.
Pierce’s deep and profound connection to Boston is evident: it’s where he grew from a rookie out of Kansas University into a man for sixteen professional seasons. He later said he’d absolutely consider returning to Boston in some capacity. But it’s still a telling admission from Pierce, that try as he might, it was hard all season for him to move on from his old surroundings.
During Pierce’s first game back in Boston, replete with celebrations for his career and adoring fans, I noted that the Nets didn’t want Paul Pierce the Net, they wanted Paul Pierce the Celtic.
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