Paul Pierce expressed a desire to create a “legacy here in Brooklyn” as he was introduced along with fellow former Celtics Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry on Thursday at the Barclays Center.
The players, officially traded from the Celtics last week, were welcomed to New York and met the media and some fans alongside new Nets coach Jason Kidd and general manager Billy King. Owner Mikhail Prokhorov stopped by at the end of the press conference.
Pierce lamented having to leave Boston after spend the first 15 years of his NBA career with the Celtics, but he said he was pleased to have another opportunity to compete for a title.
“It’s tough when you’ve been in a situation like me for 15 years and you come to an organization such as the Brooklyn Nets. But when you look at it, what they’re trying to do here, win a championship, bring in the pieces necessary, new arena, new owners, new excitement — it really brings a little bit of excitement,” he said.
“Obviously I would have loved to end my career in Boston. But that day and age is probably over with with a lot of players ending their careers in one city. When the trade happened, you felt excited, especially with Kevin and Jason coming along. That will make the situation — not only for me, but each other — more comfortable.
“The ultimate drive is winning a championship. Obviously Boston is going in a different direction. And at this point in our careers, we’re championship-driven. We’ve made a lot of money in our careers, we’ve won a number of awards. I think at this point right now we’re all about winning a championship. And Brooklyn, we feel, gives us the best opportunity.”
Garnett waived his no-trade clause to accept the move, which he said he did only after he “sat down and let the dust sort of settle” so that he could make his decision “with a clear mind and a clear head of what I wanted to do.”
“It’s unfortunate we had to obviously move from Boston,” Garnett said. “But I felt like both sides are going in different directions. For me, one of the major reasons I decided to come here was because the bones of this — I feel like adding what you see up here with the bones of what they have already, with Brook [Lopez] and Deron [Williams] and all the pieces they have here, Joe [Johnson] — I feel like Paul said, this gives us the best option to win again, to win it all. I’m embracing this opportunity, my family’s embracing this opportunity. I’m looking forward to it.”
Pierce added that he’s just starting to get used to being a member of a different franchise, with Thursday providing a sobering effect.
“It hasn’t really sunk in. I think it’s really starting to sink in as we speak, just being in this arena,” he said. “I saw my jersey up in the locker room, and it’s like — you saw the trade, and it’s like, ‘OK, there’s a trade.’ But for me to actually be here now, looking for a place to live, being in this arena, trying to get to know my way around the city, it’s really starting to sink in now that it’s become real. I’m no longer a Boston Celtic. I’m a Brooklyn Net. That’s what it is right now. It’s business. At some point we all have to move on. I’m here to try to create some kind of legacy here in Brooklyn.”
When Doc Rivers departed for the Clippers, Pierce said he sensed a roster change was on its way.
“You sort of kind of felt it coming. I think the writing was on the wall,” he said. “Especially when you saw what was going on all summer with Doc Rivers, you figured if Doc was going to be leaving this was probably going to be the end of the era of me, Kevin and [Rajon] Rondo together, and Jason, obviously.
“Those were the little signs. From that I kind of mentally prepared myself for it, for a move on. It’s difficult. You’ve been in one place your whole life. …. It’s definitely going to be a huge adjustment. It’s sinking in, and I’m liking what I feel right now.”
The Celtics won a title the first year after Garnett and Ray Allen joined Pierce in Boston in 2007-08. Pierce said the Nets have the talent to compete for a championship, assuming they can figure out how to jell.
“With me, Kevin and JET, along with Jason [Kidd], we don’t have any egos. We want to be one of those [contending] teams,” Pierce said. “We feel like with the talent we’ve got, we’re definitely going to compete in the Eastern Conference and hopefully the championship.”
Added Pierce: “We understand sacrifice. We feel like the guys that are here — Deron, Brook — we want them to continue to be there, and we want them to continue to be All-Stars, possible even MVP candidates. We’re here to help them. We’re here to help each other to get that ultimate goal. As the players we are, we feel like we have no choice but to make this work. So, we’re going to figure it out and make it work.”
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