If one of your closest co-workers decided to jump ship and join a rival company, I bet you might feel a little put off, too. That's the case for Paul Pierce, captain of the Boston Celtics, when asked about his thoughts on Ray Allen -- who left the Celtics after playing in Boston for the last five years (and winning a championship) to join the rival Miami Heat -- in an exclusive interview on Celtics.com.
"You know, I'm a little bitter that he went to Miami," Pierce said. "But he's still a brother of mine."
What made Allen's decision even tougher to digest for Pierce and Celtics fans everywhere was the fact that Boston had fallen one game short of a return to the NBA Finals after a grueling seven-game series with the very same Heat team. At the end of the day, though, Pierce knows it's a business and that Allen did what was best for him.
"Ray made the best decision for him, and that's what pretty much it's all about," he said. "You get in these situations, you get in free agency, you make a decision what's best for you and your family. Ray will always be a brother for me. If it wasn't for him, I probably wouldn't have been wearing a championship ring. The things he was able to do for this organization will never be forgotten."
But the show must go on, and Pierce has been pleased with the addition that Boston's president of basketball operations, Danny Ainge, has made during the offseason, including bringing back heart and soul Kevin Garnett.
"I love what Danny has been able to do," said Pierce. "It was a tough decision this summer. I know a lot was riding on what direction we were going to head. I think it all was just a domino effect, once we signed Kevin [Garnett], we knew we were going to try to make another run at it. That's pretty much the way I looked at it. Once we signed him, a number of guys were able to jump on board.
"He's everything to us trying to move forward and win a championship. If you don't bring Kevin back, then you never know what direction the team is going to head in. [They were] talking about rebuilding. They probably would have looked at trading me at some point this season, there were rumors throughout the season when we weren't playing well. Just having Kevin back told everybody what direction we wanted to head and moving forward and trying to win another championship."
Pierce was also happy about the sining of bench scoring specialist Jason Terry, who he has been a fan of for a long time.
"I've always been a big fan of Jason Terry's. Playing against him in college a couple of years and just watching his NBA career flourish over the years and winning a championship and just bringing that element to our ball club now. He's one of the best sixth men of all time to play the game. So that's something that we were lacking a year ago, and that's only due to injuries. So hopefully he can bring that consistency and championship experience so we can get back to where we were a few years ago."
Terry's addition should help the Celtics in many ways, but especially in the rest department. Pierce suffered an MCL sprain last season that really limited his production late in the season, but said that his knee is feeling much better.
"The knee is a lot better. It's not completely healed but I figure I'm about 90 percent now, so I've been doing a lot of things to strengthen it, so I'll come back a stronger player," Pierce said. "It really hampered me I thought probably the last 10 to 15 games of the year, I couldn't explode like I wanted to. But, you know, everybody is hurt at that point of the year. Everybody is dealing with some sort of nagging injuries, so that's why I didn't really ponder too much on it or express upon it too much in the playoffs because I know everybody is dealing with injuries, and that's just another excuse."
Pierce added that he was "doing a lot of leg strengthening stuff" in the offseason, including walking up stairs, bleachers and hills to help make his quad and area around the knee stronger, as well as some "light running on [a] treadmill."