Paul Pierce was recently in Spain and was interviewed by Spanish reporters. Some of his quotes have created quite a stir - mostly because there's not much news and people are looking for something to talk about.
First we'll address the "best in the world" comments.
Q: Is Kobe really the best player in the world?
Pierce: I don’t think Kobe is the best player. I’m the best player. There’s a line that separates having confidence and being conceited. I don’t cross that line but I have a lot of confidence in myself.
Q: Who are your top five favorite players in the NBA today?
Pierce: Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins and Paul Pierce.
According to Ball Don't Lie, a lot of Lakers and Spurs fans are upset by this. (What, and Cavs fans are cool with it?) What they don't get is what got lost in translation.
Paul just got finished beating Kobe in the Finals. Completely outplayed him on just about every level. He helped shut Kobe down and Kobe did little to stop him head to head. Right now, he feels like he's better than Kobe and thus the rest of the world. That's how he feels, and he has every right to feel that way after what he acomplished.
Secondly, Paul tries to explain his comment by saying that he's walking the line between confidence and being conceited. Most great players think of themselves as the best in order to achieve greatness. It isn't meant as a shot to Kobe, just a statement of his attitude when he steps on the court.
Finally, his statement about the top 5 is obviously a show of support to his teammates. Is Kendrick Perkins better than Kobe or LeBron? Obviously Paul is being a little tounge in cheek.
Moving on to his other comment that caused a stir.
Q: Celtics fans have suffered a lot these last few years. Does this title signal the end of this black period?
A: I hope so, at least for as long as I am on the team. I will play there for the next five years and I hope to win each year, or at least as much as possible.
Paul only has 3 years left on his contract. Many are wondering "does this mean he has or will have an extension? Did management make him some sort of promise?"
I know that Wyc and company are big Paul Pierce fans, but it isn't likely he's gotten any promises beyond "we want you to retire a Celtic." I'm sure he understands his contract situation. I'm sure he also understands that injuries can happen to anyone. But all things considered, the chances are very good that he'll get another contract at or before the end of his current deal.
He knows basketball math, when players reach their mid 30's, they either decline or retire. He's probably forecasting that he's got 5 years left in him. Which sounds about right. Nobody knows how fast he'll drop off as he ages, but that's a reasonable guess (if a bit optimistic).
So if you ask me, Paul is just standing on the top of the mountain and enjoying the view. He's getting even more attention (and questions) than he's ever gotten before and he's still a little too giddy to pick his words as carefully as he probably should. I wouldn't read too much into what he says until he hits training camp.