Paul Pierce - From hated rival to fan favorite

Mike King

One of the bigger surprises of the off-season is how fast Paul Pierce has turned from a hated Nets rival to a beloved fan favorite.  Part of it is how open he's been in his feelings about the Knicks, over and over and over again, in every medium.  As he told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe...

The comment is from a longer article Washburn did with Pierce in which he talks about speaking with Rajon Rondo, and how he told Danny Ainge the Nets were one of his preferred teams ... and how it's working out so far.

There was only like three [teams] maybe I wanted to go to, and [Brooklyn] was one of them," he said. "This gives me pretty much everything I’m looking for in the last few years of my career. I get a chance to play in a big market. I get a chance to try to win a championship. A big city. I never experienced a big city like that, that’s a whole other animal. I am going to embrace it. That’s what I have been trying to do, spending time in New York, walking in the streets, doing the appearances, getting to know the community. I’ve got to start embracing it."

Pierce now has a place in New York, he tells Washburn, and he's been cleaning out 15 years of "stuff" at his Boston home. He admits that he began packing right after the Knicks eliminated the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.

It's not a stretch to say he's been the face of the franchise the last month. Part of it has been his comments about the Knicks, but there's also his availability and that trademark smile. Here's a good example, posted by Bleacher Report this weekend: video of the game of H-O-R-S-E he played against fans at Basketball City earlier this month. In it, he claims to have regularly beaten his teammates Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry and won 247 straight games of H-O-R-S-E without a loss.  Although he does admit Nets fans challenged him.

What's his goal now ... besides winning a championship with the Nets?

"My goal is to outlast [Tim] Duncan, Kobe [Bryant], Dirk [Nowitzki], and KG, this is what’s left of that generation," he said. "I’m looking at all of them. We all are kind of in the same boat where [retirement] can happen in the next year or two. Vince [Carter] is in there. He’s still playing. They still look strong, so I want to continue to look strong."

Like he told TMZ, he expects to play 10 more years.

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