Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are both retired now, both able to speak freely (although that was really never much of a problem for either of them). In a discussion on KG’s new “Area 21,” they and other members of the 2008 Celtics championship team (minus Ray Allen) talked about leaving Boston ... and for the two of them heading to Brooklyn, with dreams of taking another franchise to the Finals.
It didn’t work and the reasons by now are obvious. Bad chemistry, particularly with Deron Williams who neither mention by name here (but who Pierce has slammed publicly in the past); Jason Kidd’s learning curve as a coach; Brook Lopez’s loss 17 games into the season, and oh yeah, injuries and other issues associated with being an older team. But above all, said the two, the lack of a winning culture in Brooklyn hurt.
Here are their comments about the transition from winning in Boston to not winning in Brooklyn. Neither took any responsibility for the team’s mediocre performance.
KG: “When we got to Brooklyn, I thought it would be another situation where we would be an addition to, they add on to us. J-Kidd is in his first year. We know J-Kidd personally. It seemed like a perfect fit, leaving the culture. And when we got there, it was just like Baby (Glen Davis) said, You get to another team after you created a culture and you see why they hadn’t won, you know.
“We had guys who had fought, guys who had competed, but it’s like any other team. You had doubters, when we came in and implemented out style, you know a lot of people there didn’t understand that. Everybody is preparing differently. We had to kind of adjust us. But one thing we never did: we never accepted the losing. We never let anyone around us accept losing. You were going to give an effort or it came with something. But at the same time, I think, they (not further described) were looking for us to be more than what we were.
“They had weapons that, you know, obviously could have carried the team and it wasn’t what we thought it was. But New York was an experience. Joe Johnson was one of the best teammates, you know, that we ever experienced and he was cool and we had a synergy there. We had Double-A (Alan Anderson), shout out to Double-A. Shoutout to J-Kidd, you know.
“It was what it was, but definitely was no Boston. Definitely a different culture and I like to think it was its own experience.”
Pierce, who has been more outspoken in the past about his Brooklyn experience, also admits to the shock of leaving Boston and about how Danny Ainge had prepared them for being traded.
Pierce: “I think I was prepared for it because I saw the writing on the wall early. When Baby’s gone, Perk’s (Kendrick Perkins) gone. Looking at the moves they made ... remember Danny (Ainge) having a meeting with us, ‘We gotta make a trade for you all. It’s better for the franchise. You know we had talks like this behind closed doors that a lot of you young players didn’t know about.
“So, when we lost that playoff series to New York, I pretty much ... a I was walking through the tunnel, I was ‘I probably played my last game in Boston.’ I thought I’d be a Boston Celtic forever, but the way things were going, I kinda knew in the back of my mind, it was kinda my last game in that series in New York.
“I was about going somewhere where I could still be comfortable. I didn’t want to go where I didn’t want to be. I figured J-Kidd was there. You got Joe. I know Joe. You got veterans there. So I said, alright, I could see myself with a veteran group, a coach who’s cool, who I know personally. Ticket coming with me. We got Jason Terry so the transition might not be that bad. I thought seriously that we could compete with the Heat. If you looked at that team on paper, you like, ‘Man! we got a shot!’
“So I think you along with me, having JET (Terry), it just made the transition easier for me and I thought it made the transition easier for you also. Just having a friend that you be with every day that would talk about it. But it was definitely a culture shock because I never thought I would no be a Boston Celtic.”
Two beat writers who covered that team took issue with Garnett and Pierce comments, even suggesting they were not in shape.
And the truth is, both Pierce and Garnett showed up in Brooklyn that year woefully unprepared to play -- physically and mentally. https://t.co/QoMm72CHsn— Andy Vasquez (@andy_vasquez) May 9, 2017
KG and Pierce were so disappointed in Nets culture that they both wanted to come back. Give me a break. Nets just wouldn't pay Pierce.— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) May 9, 2017
The consequences of that 2013 trade are well-known to any NBA fan. The trade, executed by Billy King and Dmitry Razumov, may be the worst in the history of the league. A week from tonight, the Draft Lottery will add yet another painful moment to add to the disappointment of that season and the loss of pick after pick after pick.
It’s also the second interview in two days about the rationale for the deal, with Bobby Marks telling CBS Sports about the rationale from the Nets side. Expect more.