I’m not a fan of players trashing their former workplace and teammates for no good reason after leaving, but that doesn’t mean what Paul Pierce has to say about the Brooklyn Nets and especially Deron Williams isn’t interesting.
Pierce spent one season with the Nets after getting traded there along with Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to try and win a title on a team that’s not short on money, but not very flexible when it comes to cap space or the ability to really create a championship team. Pierce wasn’t exactly playing like a Final MVP (in 2008) but he expected a little bit more from his teammates in terms of effort and attitude.
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. There’s a lot of secondary guys on that team. KG and I went there looking at them as the main guys who would push us, because we were advancing in years. But we ended up doing all the pushing.
In his interview with Jackie MacMullan Pierce also said that next season will be his last, but the juicy stuff had to do with his time on the Nets and also sharing his version of the whole Ray Allen thing. One player Pierce seemed to be really disappointed with last season was Deron Williams.
Before I got there, I looked at Deron as an MVP candidate. 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.
Ray Allen isn’t in the NBA anymore, although he hasn’t officially retired. Still, the whole way he left the Celtics to win a championship with the Miami Heat remains a very interesting moment and turn of events for the Celtics group and the whole shift of power in the East, although the Heat won a championship without Allen.
Basically? Pierce plays down the whole “we hate Ray Allen” thing, or at least hating him because he left. According to Pierce, there was never a lot of love between Allen and the rest of the Celtics.
It was a weird relationship. 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. But even the year we won it, after a game we’d say, ‘Let’s go have something to eat and have a night with the older guys.’ We’d get there and it would be me, Kevin and Sam (Cassell), but no Ray.
In a lot of ways, me, Sam and Kevin were our Big Three. 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.
Williams also spoke about his current teammates and trashed their attitude a little bit as well. There’s nothing better than feeling old and successful while making everyone else you played with or still playing with seem small and inferior. Being old school doesn’t mean that you’re better.