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The Meeting that Wasn't - by Master PO

I have always been the curious sort when it comes to what people say, when they say it and how they say it. Sometimes not saying anything at all says a lot as well. One of my pet peeves is people who don't really say what they mean and of course mean what they say. I guess all of us like to think of ourselves as straight-shooters when we talk, and nobody likes to think of their self as deceptively evasive or slippery.

In this regard, I many find NBA players, coaches, agents and GM's frustrating in how contract negotiations, trades, basic honest communication and ultimately some strained relationships all play out in the NBA. I guess I really am old fashioned.

Let's take Paul Pierce as an example in communication, or in this case - no communication. As we all know he was recently in Vegas to watch his new teammates show their young skills, and supposedly do some charity work (what was that work by the way?). His presence in Sin City prompted Danny Ainge to declare to the press that Paul and he would get together and talk while they were both in Vegas. According to what we know, Paul never returned the Danny Ainge call to meet and talk (as he was apparently very busy and then left town in a hurry), and so both sides played that off as no big deal – just two busy people. Was it just bad timing and busy schedules? Or is our franchise player still playing mind games, showing too much bravado, and ultimately showing the fans why maybe we should be sick of him.

I know, I know my fellow Celtic fans, you are saying to yourself; Po's turned completely paranoid and delusional inside the Temple smoking too much opium or eating too much rice. I know I should not try to not read too much into this, as stuff like this just happens in the big crazy world of NBA players and GM's all the time. Apparently now players always need their agent to speak for them, and simply sitting down and saying what's on your mind in a respectful manner violates the acceptable norm, and makes people feel uncomfortable, or makes them feel as if that somehow puts them in a disadvantage or appear weak. Here is my old-school take on the late meeting in the desert that simply wasn't.

  • Danny and Paul have apparently not talked since season end, and now they were in the same city, at the same time, and even in the same gymnasium. Danny extends his hand by calling Paul Pierce and leaving him a message to meet. Sounds reasonable to me.
  • Both guys probably have lots of time on their hands in Sin City, or at least enough time to carve-out an hour in quiet bar, or a hotel suite somewhere, to have a few words for each other. There are lot's of things to do in Vegas to stay busy, (trust me I know), but come on Paul I don't buy it. Danny had already bought all the ugly golf shirts he needed on that trip (the pictures prove it), and Paul probably didn't have any more suitcase room to stuff more souvenir #34 Celtic jerseys down in his bag. Paul Pierce had time to meet no question about it.
  • Certainly one would think Paul Pierce had enough time in the last few months to think through last year's successes and failures, and to also get his emotions in check. One would also think he has things he wants to express, both good and bad, about last season to Danny. He has to have pertinent questions about his own future, the team itself, what Danny is trying to put together as the nucleus surrounding him. I am sure he wants to know if Danny Ainge really wants him at this point. If Paul were truly excited about the Celtics future (with him in it), plus ready to get busy on the upcoming season as the sole captain of the team, my hope and expectations would be that he would be able to squeak out an hour to at least look Danny Ainge in the eye and say: "thanks for calling me and now what can I do to help us get better next season as I really want to be in Boston?" (if that is really what he wants). Now giving Paul Pierce the benefit of the doubt here, maybe he knows (or just thinks he knows) that Danny rarely gives straight answers to any of his former questions (provided he ever asked any direct ones in the first place) so why bother now. Maybe he quickly thinks back to the Antoine Walker trade to Dallas, and how Danny was not exactly shooting straight at that time as I recall with AW, or so it seemed.
  • On the other hand, I am sure Danny Ainge, wanted to probe the post-season mindset of Paul Pierce on a number of subjects so he could better determine "is this a player I still want to be my franchise player". He certainly has that right to ask someone on the payroll being paid large amounts of very green dollars a direct question like: "Do you really want to be in Boston next year in the midst of a youth movement as I try to do what's best for this team?" He should also expect an honest answer in return.

    I think an hour of well used meeting time could have answered many questions for both Danny and Paul. It could have given each person a chance to say with straightforward passion and/or conviction what they really want, and what they are both trying to accomplish. Life's too short for anything else.

    Paul probably could have used this talk as a chance to calmly and respectfully get his concerns out on the table. Simply put, Paul should finally say what he means, and then mean what he says in all his future actions - no excuses. This could have been a good time to start acting like a veteran captain of a team or a time to say " I want out".

    Danny Ainge could have used 1 hour to find out if this specific Celtic investment would be better off some place else. Danny would hopefully have shown Paul Pierce his due respect by shooting straight with him and being honest with him. No hedging or no GM doublespeak.

    I know many of you will call me naive. I encounter that sentiment everyday with people I negotiate with who have a hard time just saying what they really mean., Call me old school, call me whatever you will, but getting to the point in a forthright manner always makes me feel much better than all that other side-steppin crap in the long term.

    My gut in this case tells me Paul Pierce left town without returning the phone call not because he was busy, but because he still does not "get it" and he likes to play some games. By that I mean Paul Pierce still does not fully understands what it means to be a true professional (both on and off the court) while playing for, and being the captain of, an historic championship franchise who needs his leadership. My gut still tells me that the Celtics deserve something better than Paul Pierce can ever deliver. He can't even seem to deliver an hour of his time when your boss calls while you are in town. For the sake of my Celtics, I hope my gut is wrong once again that The Truth really can deliver. He certainly didn't in Vegas.

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