BOSTON (CBS) – A somber-looking Paul Pierce took the podium at the Barclay’s Center on Thursday, about to be introduced by his new team: The Brooklyn Nets.
After spending all 15 years of his NBA career with the Boston Celtics, it’s understandable that it took some time for the trade sending him, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to Brooklyn to sink in.
But as the press conference continued, and Pierce, Garnett, Terry and new Brooklyn head coach Jason Kidd answered questions about the future of the Nets, the former Celtics captain began to look at ease with the path his career is now heading down.
“It’s really starting to sink in as we speak, just being in this arena,” Pierce said Thursday. “I saw my jersey in the locker room; you saw the trade and you’re like ‘OK there is a trade’ but actually being here and looking for a place to live, being in this arena, trying to learn my way around the city, it’s really starting to sink it that it’s become real – I’m no longer a Boston Celtic.”
“I would have loved to have ended my career in Boston, but that day and age is probably over with for a lot of players,” he said.
“At some point we all have to move on, and I’m here to try to create some kind of legacy here in Brooklyn,” said Pierce. “The ultimate drive is winning a championship. Obviously, Boston is heading in a different direction, but at this point in our careers we’re championship driven. We’re all about winning a championship and Brooklyn, we feel, gives us the best opportunity.”
Garnett was a little more into the introduction, delivering a friendly salute to the gathered New York media as he took the stage. Then a simply “What’s up, Brooklyn” made them all laugh and cheer for “The Big Ticket.”
He’s hoping there will be plenty of that when the fans are the ones filling the arena, as he has his eyes set on one thing and one thing only: another NBA Title.
“It’s unfortunate that we had to move from Boston, but I felt like both sides are going in different directions,” said Garnett. “For me, one of the major reasons I decided to come here was because of the bones of this. Adding what you see up here with the bones they already have in Deron (Williams), Joe (Johnson); all the pieces they have here, like Paul said, gives us the best opportunity to win it all again.”
Garnett likened this day to when he originally joined Pierce and Ray Allen on the Celtics back in 2007. While on paper they look like a title contender, there is still a lot of work to do to make sure the Brooklyn Nets will be playing basketball well into the summer of 2014.
“You see the talent already here and us coming into it, it’s about how we gel,” said Garnett. “The difference in the years in Boston when we won and when we didn’t was just how we dealt with each other. The little things that make up nights when you’re down but you come back to make a run… You have to communicate, you have to be able to understand each other. It’s all about how you gel at the end of the day.”
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“I think we’ll be right up there with the best of the them,” added Pierce, hoping his Nets will compete with the likes of Miami, Indiana and Chicago. “We don’t have any egos; we want to be one of those teams and with the talent we have we’re going to compete in the Eastern Conference and hopefully a championship.”
The presser wouldn’t be complete without a cooking analogy, but this time it was Pierce instead of Garnett putting on the chef’s hat.
“The talent is there; we have all the ingredients for a championship team,” said Pierce. “It’s just how we put the seasoning salt in, the pepper and all the spices together. It’s about how it’s going to come out, because we have all the ingredients. I think that’s our job as veterans and the younger guys, to come together and understand the bigger picture and figure out how to make it work.”
“We understand sacrifice. We want the guys who are here to continue to be themselves, we’re here to help them and help each other,” added Pierce.
It’s been three weeks since the trade was first agreed upon, and nearly a week since it became official that Garnett and Pierce were no longer Boston Celtics. It was a hard to picture for Celtics fans and the players themselves, but now the that they have held up their jerseys and been introduced by their new team, it’s a reality.
And while it may not have looked like he was having fun to start, Paul Pierce is on board now.
“It’s going to be a huge adjustment,” Pierce said. “It’s sinking in, and I’m liking what I feel right now.”