The Truth, the Ticket and the tributes
So we’re all supposed to let go and move on, but the tributes that the Celtics and the Boston fans paid to Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett on Sunday night, and the post-game comments about their return to TD Garden, are definitely worth a second look.
And here are the highlights from the press conference after Brooklyn’s 85-79 win. Garnett and Pierce spoke together, taking turns answering one question and often feeding off each other’s responses.
Re: How things played out here this evening?
Garnett: “This was over the top … What comes to mind is unbelievable, I didn’t expect anything like that for myself, shows the first class, shows the type of organization that this is and the appreciation from this organization for you. And I couldn’t put it into words. Paul and I were joking before the game who was gonna tear up and drop a tear. I had lumps in my throat and I kept them under control and I focused as much as I could on the game and not take away from it, but man this was over the top. I couldn’t put that into words.”
Pierce: “I was telling Kevin and everybody this was the toughest game I ever had to play. Tougher than any championship game, or any game seven. This game was just really hard to focus and concentrate on what was at hand. At the end of the day we had a game to play but it was so hard to really focus. I saw so many friends, so many people I’ve known for years. Ugly Cornbread Maxwell back there, my man, my main man. It was hard to really get into my routine, you have a routine when you come and get ready for a game and it never settled in and you thought about the time, the friendships, the relationships and it was just, you get showered with love the whole game. You look up and see so many Kevin jerseys, my jerseys, posters and it’s every second you are on the bench and in the game people were calling your name. I’m happy we got it over with and I can go back to playing basketball right now.
Re: What it was like being here today, maybe bump into people on the street or something?
Pierce: “We didn’t really bump into anybody in the street, but we had a chance to go to dinner with (Rajon) Rondo last night. Talk to him, you know, about his situation here and the things we went through when we were in his situation before. It was good to see him and really, that was pretty much the only guy we had a chance to see. Other than that, I really just tried to focus and get back to the hotel and try to get some rest and couldn’t think about anything but today really, it was even hard for me to sleep. Laying in a downtown hotel in Boston when I’m used to being at my house. Getting into the arena, coming in the backside, and making a left instead of a right. Everything was so different, and it was great though.”
Garnett: “It didn’t hit me until I saw (Head Trainer) Ed Lacerte and (VP Media Relations) Jeff Twiss. I got to see all the guys that made our stay worth it; (Director of Security) Phil Lynch, (Travel and Equipment Manager) Johnny Joe (Connor), all those guys. The guys that people really don’t know but make the whole thing go around. You see, like Paul said, the endless friendships through the place; the security guards, the ball boys everybody man that shows their appreciation. By far the hardest day that I’ve had to focus. This is bigger than Minnesota, even when I went back to Minnesota, Minnesota wasn’t like this.”
Re: Video Tributes.
Pierce: “Just all the great moments … You build so much, not only on the court but in the community. I have relationships with organizations in the community that I built, been able to change different lives, being and inspiration in this community and a lot of that you thought about. I’ve seen a lot of the kids I brought to games and that’s what I think matters the most to me, the lives you can change. The basketball is great and understanding you’re a role model and it made me think of being an inspiration in the community here.”
Re: Atmosphere tonight as opposed to playoff game or large game:
Garnett: “This is not even close. It’s not even close. The impact of people and how much we’ve impacted their lives, not just kids but grownups, just the culture here. You come here and one of the first things Jeff Twiss tells you, he takes you through the library where he shows you all the history here and you feel that responsibility. To come back here and be showered like this it’s not even close, not even close.”
Re: Video showed woman in the crowd flashing your jersey crying:
Pierce: “I did notice that. It was tough, it was tough for me to swallow. I was probably about five seconds from shedding, five seconds I’ll admit to it. No words that can really describe the shower of love here.”
Garnett: “Thought we were going to see Geno. Thought Geno was going to jump up and down. Thought they were going to show Geno! GENO!”
Pierce: “That’s probably the one last thing that we didn’t get to see that we missed.”
Re: You were pointing to him on the video at the end.
Garnett: “You know what first off I looked up and then I had to compose myself before I looked back up that’s why I was kind of putting my head down, threw my towel on, but I thought Geno was going to get crackin. Should have asked Rondo, Rondo get them to throw some Geno up tomorrow. It was all good. This a good homecoming, seriously though man.”
Re: Moving on after today, possible or impossible?
Pierce: “You know what, I think as long as I’m in the league it’s going to be tough because I know I am going to have to come back to the Boston Garden. It is what it is when you put so much time and energy in one spot. When you come back there’s always going to be memories and there’s nothing you’re going to escape. As long as I’m able to come back to the Boston Garden, as long as I’m going to be able to play games, it’s going to be tough.
Garnett: “I concur. Same thing man. It’s all to me an example about how people feel about us. The times we were here, the guys that were here. We’ve just seen Baby (Glen Davis) a couple weeks ago, the new year we saw Perk (Kendrick Perkins), we got to see Doc (Rivers) and some of the guys who are still around. I mean, even when you see them, those memories, remembering that coach, remembering that hard work, what was invested in and created here throughout the six years I was here. It’s always gonna be what it is. I think we’ll always bleed green as long as we’re playing basketball and as long as we’re living. Even when they bury us six feet, this is what its gonna be.
Re: Take on Rondo’s leadership through lean times.
Pierce: I think he’s ready now. Rondo is mature, he understood what was coming. Before he had me and Kevin to lean on and now he’s the guy. He’s the captain, he is who everybody looks to for leadership and I think he’s ready. He’s grown, he’s matured, he’s seen the bottom. He’s seen the top. He’s got to understand that this is his team to lead through good and through bad. I think he understands that and he is ready for that role. And he’s ready to deal with it.”
Garnett: “I think he took notes last time we were talking to him. More importantly, we stressed that you need to lead by example, even when he doesn’t want to. I also talked to him about being professional and being a pro. You don’t get to pick and choose when you get to do that. Just understand the pedigree of a champion. You don’t let losing become something usual. Keep the mentality tough, and not all are going to follow, but most will. Lead by example and just having a voice, do it by example. Rondo is ready. I think he is very comfortable in his role here. I think he understood the transition when it was happening, and he has the type of mentality and he’s the type of person with the personality to do just that.
Re: Any message to the Boston fans out there?
Garnett: “I thought I saw Paul as he would always love the city of Boston, I feel the same way. The New Englanders and everyone who’s ever supported me here and been nice to me and my family, obviously they didn’t have to be, I just want to say thank you all, I appreciate that from the bottom of my heart.
Pierce: “It was just a special thing for me, through my bad times, through my immature times, through my growing up, becoming a man for this city and winning a championship. Everybody sticking with me, I would just like to tell them thank you.”
Re: Switching teams together.
Pierce: “I think for me, it’s just made the transition so much easier, just not only being my teammate, but being my friend. It makes things more comfortable. You know, when you go to a different place and everything’s foreign to you and you go by yourself, it’s a little difficult. But when you have somebody to go with you, that you know, that you can be with, that can help you understand it with you, it makes the transition a lot better. A little bit easier to walk. And I wouldn’t trade anything in the world, just to have, I like to call him – even though we’re the same age – he’s like a big brother to me.”
Garnett: “I am a big brother to you.”
Re: What does the concept of ‘forever’ mean to Kevin Garnett?
Garnett: “When you look at the body of work we’ve done in the six years that I was here, no one can ever take that away from us. That was our era, that’s what we embedded in history, and that’s forever. We take that to our grave with us … Thank you Boston.”
Re: Watching his own montage video.
Garnett: “It was just an emotional moment that I just kind of went back and reflected on myself. When we all got together a lot of people didn’t think that the first year we could do what we did and I think before everyone started getting together making their teams, stacking their teams, I think we were the first to initiate that. We had a lot of pressure on us. As I sat back and watched the video, I thought a lot about the fun, how much work was invested in that. To this day, I talk about how big Doc Rivers was for us just from a growth, not just as a players, but as a human being and a young man perspective, of every man he coached. I don’t know, I’m just appreciative of the time. Throughout the timeline you think about those moments and you reflect, that’s what the fist pump was. I had some great times in here, like Paul said, obviously some dismal times, but none of those overshadow the good. It was a great time here in Boston “
And finally a great quote from Celtics Coach Brad Stevens.
Re: Was it weird having the fans cheer for players on the other team.
Stevens: “The only thing I could say is what I said on the bench, and that is, “This town gets it.” You know, this town is special and you can see why. And all the people that have gotten a chance to play here and that you talk to, whether they played here for a year or whether they played here for 15 years, all talk about how special it is. And you know that coming in, but you can feel it on nights like tonight. And it was really a great tribute to both guys, obviously extremely well-deserved.”
(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at 369-3341 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @timosullivan20.)