You hear it from professional athletes all the time: when you win a championship, a bond is forever formed with your teammates.
For the 2008 Boston Celtics, though, that bond is broken and being held together by a thread named Paul Pierce.
The rift between Ray Allen and the other members of the team is well documented. The legendary shooter took a team-friendly deal to join LeBron James and the rival Miami Heat in 2012 where he won another ring. But for Pierce, Kevin Garett and Rajon Rondo, that move was a shot fired.
Ahead of Pierce’s enshrinement into the Basketball Hall of Fame, the 43-year-old opened up about his career to Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix. In the piece, Pierce shared that he’s since smoothed things over with Allen. But Garnett and Rondo will be a little trickier to reconcile.
Here’s an excerpt from Mannix:
There’s something else: Back in 2007, Rivers got Pierce, Garnett and Allen on a duck boat. Garnett asked: How many titles do you think we can get out of this? Rivers?s response: At least two. But they didn’t. In ’12, Allen signed with Miami, Boston’s rival in the East. Pierce was furious. “He took less money, too,” says Pierce. The two have buried the hatchet, hashing it out on an exhibition tour of China several years ago. But the rest of the team hasn’t. Pierce believes Garnett is softening. “KG, he’s less stubborn as he gets older,” he says. Rondo? “That’s a problem,” says Pierce. “Rondo, he’s still stubborn.”
Pierce still envisions the moment. He’s seen it before. Legends from Bill Russell to Tommy Heinsohn to Larry Bird recognized by a Boston crowd. He sees a game, maybe a season opener, at which the starting five — Pierce, Garnett, Allen, Rondo and Kendrick Perkins — walk out at halftime to a deafening roar. Others have tried to reunite that group. Rivers did. “I failed,” he says. Pierce is determined not to. “I’m going to keep talking to everyone,” says Pierce. “What a moment that would be.“
Hopefully, that day actually comes.
Allen didn’t attend Garnett’s jersey retirement ceremony in Boston, despite Doc Rivers’ best attempt to make it happen.
Maybe more will get hashed out on the podcast that Pierce and Garnett have in the works.