— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) July 18, 2013
Look at that picture: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jackie Mac. Seems like just another sit down with the Celtic legends and one of Boston's finest writers, but it's not. This isn't a season preview or a recollection of all their great memories in green. Sadly, no. Pierce, KG, and Jason Terry were introduced as Brooklyn Nets today, but if you watched the press conference, they still seemed like their hearts were still in the Garden.
Decked out in gray suits and silver and black ties, their attire seemed fitting for the somber mood that hung over Barclays. Sure, adding these veterans makes them contenders, but the press conference also marked closure for many Celtics fans needing to see PP and KG--our guys--in another team's uniforms. Compared to 2007's introduction of the Big Three, it felt more like these guys were hired guns rather than being folded into the tradition of a storied franchise.
Jay King over at MassLive.com has a great review of the emotions that #34 and #5 felt on the day that they heard about the trade and how it effects them today. Here's a snippet:
Pierce said he'll miss Boston and wishes he could have played his entire career for the Celtics, but knows the organization was traveling in a different direction.
"You sort of, kind of felt it coming," he said. "I think the writing was on the wall. Especially when you saw what was going on all summer with Doc Rivers, you figured if Doc was going to be leaving, you figured this was going to be the end of an era, with me, Kevin and (Rajon) Rondo together, and Jason (Terry) obviously. Those were the little signs. From that, I kind of mentaly prepared myself for it.
"You know, it's difficult. You've been in one place your whole life, living five minutes from the practice facility. Now you have to make an adjustment, an hour drive to practice, probably two-hour drive to the game. It's definitely going to be a huge adjustment. It's sinking in and I'm liking what I feel right now."
For what it's worth, Pierce admitted that had he been GM, he would have made the trade as well. I understand that this is a business and this is the ugly side of it all, and as much as I am excited at the direction that Danny has this team pointed in, I would have had Kevin and especially Paul retire as Celtics. When I was a kid, my favorite seasons didn't end with a banner raised to the rafters. It was those final years when Bird and McHale were battling injuries and fighting so hard to stay on the court while youngsters like Reggie Lewis and Brian Shaw picked up the baton. Winning feels great, but it isn't everything. Loyalty lasts forever. It's a shame that Garnett still has another year on his contract after the 2013-2014 season, because I can already hear next summer's headline in the Globe:
"PAUL PIERCE RETURNS TO BOSTON."