Paul Pierce does not have to worry about ever getting booed in Boston. His return to TD Garden on Jan. 26, in fact, might set a new record for the length of a standing ovation in that building.
Pierce, now with the Brooklyn Nets, knows not everyone is as Teflon-coated in the eyes of Boston fans. Doc Rivers‘ reception will likely be mixed when he makes his first visit as coach of the Clippers on Dec. 11. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will have to hear it from angry fans just about every day. A lot of folks in green could end up seeing red.
Trying to head off some of the vitriol, Pierce attempted to set some things straight in an interview with SLAM magazine.
“A lot of stuff got blown out of proportion because of the media, but Doc has always said he didn’t want to be a part of a rebuilding situation,” Pierce said in an interview posted Thursday. “I’ve always stated that the past four or five years. After the season, the owners decided they wanted to go in that direction. It made Doc look like he was quitting, but at the same time, it was mutual.
“Everything was mutual at the end: the trade, Doc leaving. I didn’t want to be part of rebuilding. Kevin didn’t want to be part of rebuilding. Doc didn’t want to be part of rebuilding. I think it was all mutual.”
Rather than feel double-crossed by the Celtics, with whom he pictured himself finishing his career, Pierce said the franchise did him and Garnett a favor by trading them to a place where they could continue to contend for a title.
“We’ve done so much for the franchise that they wanted to help on our end,” Pierce said. “So Doc went to L.A., and they sent us to Brooklyn for a chance to win a championship.”
Even if Pierce claims not to harbor any ill will toward Ainge or the Celtics, a sizable contingent of Celtics fans will definitely love it this season if Pierce hits a big shot in the Garden and gives a long, Roger Clemens-esque glare toward the owners’ seats. He still is a competitor, after all.