Q&A: Paul Pierce

Posted by Unknown on Monday, October 06, 2014 with No comments
Courtesy of David Aldridge 

Me: Was Washington your first choice? I heard all summer you wanted to go home to L.A., to the Clippers. 
Paul Pierce: Obviously, this is my first time in free agency. I really didn't know where I was going to end up. Truthfully, I thought I was going to end up back in Brooklyn, with Kevin [Garnett]. I told Kevin, if you're not going to retire, then I probably will come back. But when Brooklyn didn't give me an offer, it was like, I talked to him, and I kind of started looking at my options then. I thought I probably would end up with the Clippers with Doc [Rivers], but they wound up signing Spencer Hawes [and using the full mid-level exception] at the time. That's when Sam Cassell gave me a call, shortly after Trevor Ariza signed with Houston. That kind of happened so fast. He signed, and Sam called me, and [asked] what I thought. We both were in Vegas at the time, talking on the phone. Then met him for lunch. Then met him again for dinner. It took some convincing, because I never really thought about Washington. It just wasn't on my radar. But I started thinking about it, and everything he was telling me, based on what they did last year, the guys they have here, he talked about the culture, he talked about Coach [Randy Wittman], Ernie [Grunfeld, the GM], talked to him. And I started warming up to the idea. Pretty much that same day we talked, I started warming up. This team does have some potential, now that I think about it. They probably should have beat Indiana. Everybody thought they should have beat Indiana. I was like, they have one of the best backcourts in basketball. They're lacking experience, a guy in the locker room and on the court that can help end games. I was like, I probably can fit in. After LeBron said he was going back to Cleveland, the dynamics of the Eastern Conference, with Indiana, I was like, this is a team that could be in the Eastern Conference finals, or possibly the Finals, based on what's here. And adding me to some of the other veterans they added, I was like, why not? 
Me: Were you surprised that Brooklyn didn't try harder to move you to the Clippers with a sign-and-trade, since that was the only way the Clippers could get you after they signed Hawes? 
PP: You know what, I didn't know what to expect. Brooklyn's been, or New Jersey, Brooklyn, they're a franchise that's going in a different direction, I think. They said they wanted to cut costs, they felt like they weren't going to be a contender. Right now, they're kind of in the middle right now. And I really didn't want to be in the middle. I didn't know if they wanted to do a sign-and-trade. I had to make my own destiny. I couldn't put it in the faith of somebody else. And that's when I was like, I'm coming here.
Me: There are veterans here, but John Wall and Bradley Beal kind of set the table. How do you help them? 
PP: I think it's going to help them just seeing how I approach each and every day. I think [about] building confidence in here. When you're a young player and you're starting to scratch your potential, you don't know how good you can be. Hopefully I can help push them, help them believe that they can be the best backcourt, or the best point guard, or the best two guard, in the NBA. Because the potential is there. It's not blowing smoke. To hear it from a guy like me, I think it can do wonders. A coach'll probably tell you, or a friend will probably tell you, but to hear it from a guy who's been in the league, who's been to 10 All-Star games, who's won a championship, I think it can really do wonders if it comes from a guy like me. When Shaq gave me the nickname, it wasn't no Joe-Bob giving you a nickname. This is Shaq. It was like, whoa. Shaq gave me the nickname ("The Truth"), it brought so much confidence to me. It was like, he's got so much respect for my game, he thinks I'm like this? I think that's what helped take my game to the next level. And that's what I want to do for them. 
Me: Where are the points for you in the flow of this offense? 
PP: I had a chance to watch some film, based on what they did last year. I watched a lot of how Trevor scored in this system. I see myself being similar to that. I think I have a little more versatility to my game. I add a little more to it, to where maybe I can play a little stretch four, or come off a down screen or pick and roll, instead of just being a spot-up shooter. I can do that also. But I just have more versatility in my game that I can use. And be a threat down the stretch, whether I have the ball or not. Teams are going to pay attention to me. 
Me: At this stage of your career, what's the motivation to keep playing? 
PP: It's just the fire inside. I love getting up, in the summer I get up at 5:30, 6 just to go train. I still have that desire. Even though I have kids, and you want to spend time with them. But I feel like I'll have plenty of time to spend. They're still young. They're not in high school yet, or middle school. I have a 6-year-old, a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old. If I play the game for a couple more years, I'll still spend time with them. But my fire still burns. It's still wanting to get up, get in here, work out with the guys, be in the locker room, and chase another championship. 
Me: Is a championship possible here?
PP: I think so. I mean, I feel like if Bradley and John Wall take the next step. John has potential to be the best point guard in the league. Bradley has the potential to be the best two guard in the league. You look at Dwyane Wade right now, probably, and James Harden. I see Bradley right there. He can be -- in my eyes, should be -- an All-Star this year. 
Me: What has to happen for a good player to become a great one? 
PP: It's the confidence level, man. Putting in the work. You can't disguise that, because it shows on the court. You've got to put in the work. And you've got to play with confidence. You've got to believe in yourself. It's going to be people, you're going to see the articles, you're going to see people doubt you. You can't believe that stuff. You have to believe in yourself, and you've got to have the confidence every day. I've been bashed, when I was a young player. I wasn't this. I was selfish. They can't win a championship with Paul, when they bring Kevin in. You can't get caught up into that stuff. I've seen that waver so many people's careers, where they go in one direction or the other. I've seen it. It's incredible. They come in and look at their Twitter, or their Instagram -- what are they talking about me? Then they go into a lull, and it does impact it. You can't get caught up in that. I've used it for motivation. Some guys that can't do that, don't look at it. 
Me: What have you had to do to stay in shape as you get older? 
PP: I do a good job of eating right when I train. I think that's something I changed in my later years in Boston. I think once I turned 30, I've been different. I was like, I just can't go out here and eat the cookies, eat the donuts. I changed the way I eat. I get my rest. Having a family, having kids also helps. You're not out in the streets all the time like when you were young, with your boys. And I'm still motivated to wake up and go train. 
Me: When you sit down with the 1-year-old in a few years and pull out the scrapbook, what will you tell him about dad's career? 
PP: I'm gonna tell him dad as a hard worker. But he's gonna be in the new generation -- I don't want to hear none of that. But that's all right. I'm gonna have this for you, just in case you want to go back to the library, or to the office, I'm gonna show you, son. You've gotta beat this now. No pressure on him. Actually, I want him to be a baseball player. They've got a better union.