Paul Pierce will play his 18th NBA season back in his home city of Los Angeles, but it won’t be for the team he grew up rooting for.
Pierce, who spent his formative years just outside L.A. in Inglewood, Calif., was a Lakers fan back then, as most kids in the area were during the height of the “Showtime” era. But after spending his first 15 NBA seasons with the Lakers’ most hated rival, the Boston Celtics, Pierce said pulling on the purple and gold would never be an option for him.
Instead, the 37-year-old chose the Los Angeles Clippers, with whom he signed a three-year, $10 million contract earlier this month.
“It’s a dream come true to be able to come home, finally,” Pierce said Sunday at the NBA Players Awards, via The Boston Globe. “I grew up a Laker fan, but playing on all the Boston Celtic teams … there’s no way I could go there — so this was the next best choice. And it’s always been a dream to play in front of my family and friends.”
Of course, the Clippers currently are a much more desirable free-agent destination than their roommates at Staples Center. The Clips, who finished with 35 more wins than the Lakers last season, boast a strong core in Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and the newly re-signed DeAndre Jordan, as well as the piece of most interest to Pierce: former Celtics coach Doc Rivers.
Pierce wasted no time in assimilating himself into his new squad, traveling with Griffin, Paul, Rivers and others to Houston in the ultimately successful effort to woo Jordan back to L.A.
“I wasn’t there last year with that team, so I kind of sat in and voiced what I thought but I was on the outside looking in,” Pierce said, via the Globe. “I think guys cleared the air if there was any tension, but I think a lot of the media made it more than it was.”
Thumbnail photo via Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports Images