We as basketball fans are going to miss Paul Pierce when he retires. Few players in today’s game bring as much competitiveness and old-school play to the table that Pierce, the tenth overall pick in 1998, continues to bring even at the age of 39 and as a reserve for the Los Angeles Clippers. This is a guy who didn’t make a name for himself off YouTube videos or being a one-and-done player, but through hard work and rebounding from personal trauma in his life.
And, of course, we’ll miss his costumes.
On Wednesday night, the future Hall of Famer will join Bill Simmons for the latest episode of HBO’s Any Given Wednesday alongside Jay Glazer of Fox Sports. The highlight of the episode, as many have already begun to notice, is Pierce’s comments on last year’s Golden State Warriors team.
“Golden State choked. Like, seriously, I mean 3-1? You’re not supposed to lose. Three-to-one, you should never lose. Golden State choked.”
This isn’t the first time that the 2008 NBA champion has been critical of Golden State, as SLAM reported that “The Truth” had an issue with former Oklahoma City Star Kevin Durant leaving the Thunder for the Warriors, the same team that knocked him out of the postseason weeks before.
“I could have left Boston years ago but I stuck it out. I just feel like when you’re that close as a competitor, you don’t go join the team that just pushed you out. That’s just me personally but we’re living in a day and time where there’s a new generation. Guys I don’t think they are as hungry or competitive as my generation was, and that’s why you’ll probably see more of that.”
Pierce, a 10-time NBA All-Star, does deserve some credit for never leaving Boston in free agency despite all of the big contracts he could have had and all of the opportunities to join contenders that were on the table. Granted, some will argue that Pierce never truly became a “big name player” or a “future Hall of Famer” until the Celtics formed the big three prior to the 2007-08 season, but the guy should get some props where its due for sticking it out until they traded him and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn after the 2012-13 season.
If Pierce were in his prime now, though, would he really have been loyal to an organization as dysfunctional and as error-prone as those mid-2000’s Celtics? It’s a good question to ponder when you look back at some of those teams and when you check out his stats from those years because if he played in his prime today, can you guarantee him picking loyalty over teaming up with a division rival like Carmelo Anthony or Kyle Lowry (if Pierce were still a Celtic) or even himself hopping to Golden State or San Antonio after leaving the Clippers?
Draymond Green, one of the reasons that the Warriors collapsed in June due to his game five suspension, responded to Pierce last month and made a relatively fair argument, via SLAM.
“I just wonder at what point do they get bored talking about the same thing. You got all these guys talking. Like (Paul) Pierce today, like, dude nobody care what you did or who you did it for. Just give it a break. Everybody got something to say and want to take everything he say and twist it. Like, he play with the Warriors. OKC has their team, we have our team. He left there. Nobody complain when somebody leave Apple and go to Google. Aren’t they in competition with each other? Nobody talk junk about the CEO who leaves Apple and goes to Google. As a basketball player, you are the CEO of a business…. What’s the difference on the basketball court. It’s your day job. You want to do what’s better for you. If it’s better for your family life, better for your happiness. Ain’t no one criticizing them. I don’t understand it. I’ll never understand it. So that’s just me. And I’d be willing to bet my salary ain’t many guys in this league more competitive than me.”
Look for Pierce to discuss competitiveness during Any Given Wednesday as well as the announcement he made last month, via ESPN, that he would want to retire as a Boston Celtic. Will we see Bill Simmons squeal in excitement about The Truth’s return? You’ll have to watch Any Given Wednesday to find out.
Other HBO playdates for Any Given Wednesday include Nov. 3 (12:30 p.m., 12:35 a.m.), 4 (9:00 a.m., 2:40 a.m.) and 6 (9:00 a.m.), while HBO2 playdates are currently scheduled for Nov. 2 (11:00 p.m.), 3 (9:25 a.m.), 5 (11:20 a.m.), 7 (3:35 a.m.) and 8 (11:15 p.m.); the show is also available on HBO NOW, HBO GO, and HBO On Demand, as well as other affiliate portals.
[Featured Image by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images]