Paul Pierce on why so many former players have issues with today’s game

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 8: Former Celtics great Paul Pierce before Game 3 of the 2022 NBA Finals at the TD Garden on June 8, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images)
Former Celtics great Paul Pierce prepares for Game 3 of the 2022 NBA Finals at the TD Garden on June 8, 2022 in Boston. (Photo by Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images)

The TV of Paul Pierce, who crashed in his Los Angeles home, is often programmed with NBA games. While some retired players are turning away from the sport that once defined their lives, Pierce remains attuned to the league he played for 19 seasons, inviting friends to big games and ordering piles of chicken wings.

“I like the flats best, Buffalo. I usually order three [flavors]. So my three is Buffalo, Lemon Pepper, and then I usually add some BBQ. I like to mix it up. I don’t like to settle for just one,” Pierce told Sportzshala Sports. “I ordered a big one because we usually have friends over and we’re looking at some hoops.”

Pierce will travel to Houston next week to play in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, watching games from the Buffalo Wild Wings lounge along with All The Smoke podcast hosts Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes and two-time WNBA MVP A’Jay Wilson. activation experience marked “BnB-Dubs”. He savored every opportunity to stay in touch with the sport while being a part of Showtime Basketball Family after launching with ESPN. And with so much consternation on the part of many former Pierce players who have taken to national broadcast and podcast platforms to lament certain elements of the modern NBA, talking to a Hall of Famer swingman was the perfect opportunity to better understand why so many of Pierce’s playing brothers are willing to criticize the league. where they once lived.

The following interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Why do all these retired players want to complain about the state of the game today? This has been going on for a while, but it seems to have reached its climax now with so many former players sitting at the tables on national networks and so many podcasts like yours. Why do you think former players are so eager and ready to tease the current state of the league?

“I think it’s always been that way, and I think it’s been that way in every sport. Because time goes by, the players change, and the rules change. So, my generation or the previous one, we’re talking about the next generation, we’re talking about who we would be in this generation. It has always been an eternal conversation, because I remember this conversation of the old people when I first came. What was the league? It was “other”. Players earn more money, they have more control over their destiny. You see it. It will always be a complaint.

“And one of the complaints that Charles Barkley was talking about is about load management. Because when you talk about hardworking people who want to come and watch the stars play, and they just sit on the bench and are not injured, people come to watch the stars play. And so, of course, it would be a natural complaint. And that’s right, you know what I mean?

Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce commits a layup in the first half of Game 3 of the NBA Basketball Finals on Tuesday, June 10, 2008 in Los Angeles.  (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Paul Pierce of the Boston Celtics commits a layup in the first half of Game 3 of the NBA Finals on June 10, 2008 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

There’s a difference between older players telling you this behind the scenes and Charles on national television and everyone else peddling rubbish on podcasts. The load management aspect has definitely become the loudest part of this conversation.

“Yes, absolutely. Everyone creates their own platform. It gets louder as you gain control of your voice and take control of your own storytelling.”

I think it could do the league a disservice, right? When you have all these big voices killing a product, it creates a discourse online that the league is not doing well.

“It’s because we live in a time where you start talking about things, I think that drives the product. We now live in a society where all news is good news, in a way.

“It makes people talk. If you can get people to talk about basketball all the time, they will want to watch it. You don’t get your usual fans listening to this kind of talk, they want to see what’s going on. So it’s interesting anyway.”

Yes, but I think if it’s about load management, “You’ll never see star players play,” don’t you think it might make that casual fan not want to go watch or visit if they hear everything? about how the stars don’t play?

“You know, everything is confused. I have a friend in Brooklyn. He paid for the subscriptions. Second row. And how much did he pay for them before the season, how much are they worth now? Oh dude. Because, you know, before the season they promoted the CD. [Kevin Durant] and Kyrie [Irving]so the prices have gone up. They ask for an exchange… he can’t even sell those tickets. He lost money on them.

As part of NBA 75 in Cleveland last year, what is your best memory of that night?

“The best memory was that I was in the room and just talking with Magic Johnson and Jerry West. When I looked back one night when we were all at the back of the room, kind of like a little waiting room, before we left. I looked and saw that seven feet, 10 feet away from me were Magic, Isaiah Thomas and Kevin McHale talking to each other. I looked and thought, “Damn, this is the era that really got me into basketball.” .’ I took out my phone and started writing them down. And I’m like, “Dude, I remember when you all hated each other!” You know, in the 80’s it’s like rivalry. All three were rivals. And just to see them talking again, it was like, “Wow, this is my childhood right here.” And I’m in the room with them. It was great to see it.”

I was in Boston for the Finals when you were running around the TD Garden in your NBA 75 green jacket. Is there anyone in the Celtics who comes to you for advice or do you go to them for advice?

“You know, I hit Jason from time to time. [Tatum]. I hit him on social media when they were wrestling. They had a period where they lost about three or four games in a row and I just said to him, “Come on man, you guys need to get back on track.” And he’s like, “You’re right,” and he’ll write back. I hit him during the final a couple of times. But for the most part, man, I’m not here to tell them how to play or what to do. I am here as an older brother. I go to games, sometimes I talk to them in training or in the locker room. I’m just like a fan. And I always listen if they ever need to shout about something. This is what I told them the last time I saw them. I gave them my number. You can lend a hand. But they don’t want anything from me. I’m just here if they really need me.”

Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul Pierce, center, responds to the crowd's applause during a timeout in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017, in Boston.  Pierce, a former Celtics player, played what is expected to be his last game in Boston on Sunday.  (AP Photo/Stephen Senn)
Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul Pierce receives a standing ovation from fans during a first-half timeout against the Boston Celtics on February 5, 2017 in Boston. It was Pierce’s last game in Boston. (AP Photo/Stephen Senn)

Was there a moment last season when you realized that this team exists for real? They seemed to sneak up on people. They were 11 seeded at the end of January. When did you start believing in them?

“It all happened because Jaylen Brown said: “The energy is about to change.‘Remember? I knew what this team was. This was a team that, before being at 11 last year, this was a team that people said was the future. Because they were already in the conference finals. They just needed to grow up and grow up together. Now you see how each of these guys makes a jump. Three guys who were together the longest – Marcus [Smart], Jaylen and Jason – now you can see how they make a jump. Tatum has completely turned into a real superstar, as we saw in the All-Star Game, coming out with 55 and MVP. Jaylen reveals that he will be a perpetual All-Star. Marcus with his veteran leadership and protective presence. They took this leap of maturity to finally take the next step and maybe be together for a long time and win some championships if they’re healthy.”

I know it was 10 years ago, but do you remember where you were on the night of the 2013 draft when you were traded to Brooklyn? I know they talked about it before when the exchange deadline was set and they started talking about it again during Memorial Day weekend, but when it really came to an end, what do you remember about how it all happened?

“Dude, it was like a lot of conversations with Danny Ainge. I knew this was happening. We had a full, open conversation about it. Be honest and open about it. This was a little embarrassing. I thought I would retire as Celtic. But at the same time, it was like, “Damn, they want to rebuild.” We saw the writing on the wall. Because we just got beaten by the New York Knicks. Our heyday was past, and Danny was thinking of a way, if we can get something for the old people, then, oh, okay. And also give us another opportunity to win a championship because we’ve teamed up with two young All-Stars. Deron Williams, considered by many to be the best point guard, one or two point guards, him or Chris Paul. And then Joe Johnson became an All-Star. We thought that by beating them, we would probably have the opportunity to win the championship with them. And here is the plus of being in a big city. The move was close. It was down the street. Brooklyn. The same conference. And then go with Kevin [Garnett] it’s gotten a lot easier.”

So many All-Stars have a hard time adjusting to becoming a role player later in their career. You seemed to thrive in the last couple of years and enjoy being a trailblazer. How could you do it? Was it all that easy if you asked me…


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