When Paul Pierce first arrived in Brooklyn, he said that the trade hadn’t really sunk in. Then over the next couple of weeks the adjustment was kind of odd for him still as he played his entire career for, and wanted to retire with, the Boston Celtics. On Monday, the eve of training camp, he seemed more at east and even said that it wasn’t weird to put on Nets gear anymore as he’s been wearing it for the past few weeks.
“It’s been an adjustment, but I think the people in this organization have really made the transition easy,” Pierce said. “I’m talking about directions, schools, hospitals, where to go eat, they’ve made the transition so smooth and they welcome you with open arms. I’m as comfortable now today as I’ve been since the trade. There are people here that have my back and are looking out for what’s best for not only me, but for the team.”
It turned out that adjusting to a new team, something that he never wanted to do, went easily for him. The next step could be much more difficult and that’s going back to Boston.
“It’s going to be emotional,” he said. “Obviously I’ve been there my entire career. I’ve done some things in that place, I’ve built some special relationships there, I just expect it to be very emotional. I haven’t circled that date because I can’t even picture it yet. I know that it’s going to be an emotional time for me.”
The reason why Pierce felt comfortable with the trade was because of the championship aspirations that come with him. He talked at length about the potential capabilities of the team and right now they’re not looking for any moral or emotional victories, Pierce, and the Nets, have one goal on their mind and that is to win a championship.
“I came here to win a championship,” Pierce said emphatically. “I don’t even want to see an Atlantic banner put up if we win it. I don’t even know how many Atlantic Division championships we won in Boston. I don’t know. I don’t remember getting a hat or a t-shirt that said Atlantic Division. You don’t get anything for it.
“Expectations have grown here in Brooklyn. It’s no longer the New Jersey Nets and hopefully we can win the division. We’re the Brooklyn Nets with championship aspirations and you see that with the people around here.”
Like always, the once the championship talk begins, the words sacrifice quickly follow. That’s a big part of the reason why the Nets made the trade with the Celtics for Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry. They traded for them not just because of who they are on the court, but because they bring with them a mentality that last year’s Nets lacked.
“All the ingredients are in the locker room,” Pierce declared. “We have youth, good size, veterans, experience, know how, depth. All of the things that you need for a championship caliber team are in the locker room. It’s just about how we come together, how we sacrifice and do the necessarily things you need to do to make this a good ball club.”
When Pierce was asked what helps a team gel in that way, what helps elevate a team to the next level, he was quick to point out that there is no set formula. It’s just something the team needs to come together on its own to figure out.
“I think every championship team has its own different ingredients and how they go about it,” he explained. “Miami had theirs, Dallas had theirs, and Boston had theirs. It’s up to us to understand the bond together to help us understand the clear goal of the championship. The way you win one championship is not going to be the way you win the next one. Every team is different, all personalities are different. It’s just something you have to figure out.”
The Nets will begin that path on Tuesday when training camp starts at Duke University.
• Paul Pierce also expressed a strong confidence in Jason Kidd as the coach. “I think what Jason has brought to the game over his time everybody understands that he’s one of the greatest players with one of the best IQs we’ve ever seen as a basketball player and he’s well respected around the league. I’ve been watching Jason Kidd since I was a kid. I’ve been a big fan of his. I think the NBA needs more great basketball minds like his patrolling the sidelines. It’s good to get some new blood out there.”
• On beating the Heat: “Our goal is to win a championship. It’s not to go out and beat the Heat. If the Heat are in our way obviously we’re going to have to see them, but there are other great teams Indiana, New York, Chicago, other teams that we are going to have to face. Obviously our goal is the championship and we have the pieces to get it done.”
• On taking the final shot: “I think when we look at this ball club here there are a number of guys. As you can Joe Johnson has been one of the most clutch guys in the league over the last eight or nine years. Deron Williams as a point guard is very tough to guard the way he shoots the ball and drives the ball. Then you have Brook Lopez, a budding center in this league, an All-Star who has shown the ability to hit shots and make good plays. Kevin has done it. Jason Terry has done it. We don’t have that one guy who you just know, certain teams they have that one guy and you just know, ‘OK this is going to be the guy down the stretch.’ I think it’s going to be a number of guys on different nights.”
• On the Nets/Knicks rivalry: “It’s going to be fun. Those types of things are fun for the sport. New York, Brooklyn, the only thing that separates us is the bridge. What makes this rivalry more competitive is that both teams are competitors. If both teams weren’t as good then you wouldn’t talk about it. But the Knicks won the Atlantic last year and you have us coming in here talking about winning the division, winning the East, winning a championship. You have two New York teams that are talking about trying to obtain the same thing so obviously it’s going to cause some friction. It’s good for the NBA.”