Paul Pierce on Losing Game 7: “I didn’t talk to people for a long time. I didn’t watch any basketball for a long time. I sort of kind of did go into a shell. I didn’t want to leave the house.”October 13, 2010 – 10:45 am by Chris Fedor
Last season, the Celtics struggled through the regular season, but when the playoffs came around, Boston turned it on and advanced all the way to the NBA Finals where they eventually lost in game seven to the Lakers. There was some speculation that the game seven loss was going to add to some changes in the offseason and it was going to the final season with the Celtics’ Big Three being together. However, not only is the Big Three back together to defend their Eastern Conference crown, but the Celtics made some additions this offseason as well. If losing game seven last year is not enough to motivate Boston this year, there’s always the Miami Heat.
Despite the Celtics being the defending champions in the Eastern Conference, all the talk is surrounding Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and LeBron James joining forces. The battle for the Eastern Conference will be tough, but when all is said and done, you can be sure the Celtics will have something to say about who wears the crown.
Paul Pierce joined WEEI in Boston with Dennis and Callahan to talk about whether or not he has gotten over the loss to the Lakers yet, how he handled the loss in the offseason, how he feels about the additions of Jermaine O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal, what he thinks about the Heat and how good they can be, and whether or not he feels this is the team’s last run at a title.
How long does it take a competitive person like you to get over a seventh-game loss in the NBA (finals)? A week? A month? Ever?
“I still haven’t gotten over it. It’s tough. Because you envision back, and say, ‘if we could have done this different, that different in the game, it would have been a different outcome.’ So, it’s hard. You think about the what ifs and all of that. I don’t think you ever forget it.”
What’s the process? Do you go in your bedroom for a couple of days and sleep, and then don’t shave for a while, or don’t bathe, and then finally come out of the shell?
“I didn’t talk to people for a long time. I didn’t watch any basketball for a long time. I sort of kind of did go into a shell. I didn’t want to leave the house. I didn’t even want to go out and eat for a while, because you just felt that bad about the loss. But then as I got back into the gym and working out, I just used it for motivation and just sort of loosened up from there.”
Did you feel like last season was the final run this team was going to have? And are you surprised to look around and see the same crew back together, indeed with more big, old guys like Shaq and Jermaine O’Neal?
“No, I wasn’t surprised at the run. We struggled a bit during the regular season at home. When I looked at our team from the beginning, I told people that we were more built for the playoffs than the regular season, because we didn’t have the up-and-down athletes, high-flyers that a lot of teams in the NBA have that can beat you in one game, on any given night. When you have to break down a team and really scout them and put us in the playoffs, then I knew that we could be successful. As far as our team this year, I’m glad that we had a chance to pick up the guys that we did and just kind of reload. Just seeing these guys back for another year, Ray (Allen), getting him back was huge, Kevin (Garnett) getting healthy, and adding Shaq and Jermaine was huge for us.”
When you look around the East, you’re going to be the underdogs now, even though you’re the defining Eastern champs. Do you look at Miami the way, say, Jeff Van Gundy does? He thinks they’re going to win 72 and win, like, four of the next five titles. Do you like that situation? All the pressure’s on them, and not so much on the defending champs here?
“Well, I’ve been in both situations. I remember when we all got together that summer, we were the favorites. We got put on the cover of every magazine, and we got all the hype, so I’ve been in both positions, as an underdog and as a favorite. They’re going to be a really good team, I can tell you that. I think when you get great players like that together, that they’re going to figure out how to work well together. As far as a prediction, I don’t know how many games they’re going to win and I don’t know how many titles they’re going to win. But I can tell you one thing: They’re going to be a pretty good team.”
What did you and Ray and KG learn about playing with each other that those three still have yet to find out?
“Well, they’ve got to drop their egos at the door. I think communication’s going to be big. Getting to know one another on and off the court’s going to be big. That’s something that me, Kevin and Ray had a chance to do. Once Ray got traded, I remember talking to him 30-45 minutes that day. Then when Kevin got traded, it was like we just continuously talked during the summer about what we needed to do. We dropped our egos. We said, ‘This is not one person’s team, this is everybody’s team. This is (Doc Rivers’) team. Our whole goals is to win a championship.’ So, if they can do that, learn to pass the ball to one another, and who cares about that stats, then they’ve got a great chance of winning.”
Is your locker room big enough for the three of you and now Shaquille? That personality’s pretty large when he walks into that room.
“We’ve still got space to fill. We have a huge locker room, and he’s going to fill in quite nicely. Like I said before, the guys with their egos, we left those at the door. I think we’re going to have one of the most entertaining locker rooms in the league this year.”
Danny (Ainge) signed the free agents all to two-year deals. Ray is a two-year deal. Do you look at this as a two-year window of opportunity with this gang?
“I’m not sure, because you never know what can happen. I got a four-year deal, so hopefully after two years these guys will reconsider coming and playing for another couple more years.”