The Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks have been slinging verbal arrows at one another all summer. So when Dime spoke with Paul Pierce during Hellman’s 100th birthday yesterday at Pier 84 along the Hudson River, we were expecting at least one Knicks quote. But Pierce would rather let his play do the talking.
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Dime: How is the family liking New York?
Paul Pierce: My family loves it, loving the city. They’ve taken to the crowds, to the restaurants. It seems like a good adjustment.
Dime: Have you figured out the commute better because we saw you had some trouble when you first moved here?
PP: Oh yeah. I’ve figured it out. After like three weeks, I figured out the route. School route, practice route, game routes, all the routes.
Dime: Are you like some of the other Nets we’ve spoken to and living in New Jersey?
PP: Nah, I’m living in the city. It was an opportunity to move my family to the city for that opportunity [for them] to experience it.
Dime: The kids [Pierce has two daughters and a son born this year] like it?
PP: Yeah, the kids really love it. It’s an experience.
Dime: You talked to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe and you mentioned how Boston was a better place, in terms of attracting free agents. I know Bill Russell had some issues when he played there, and KG was initially hesitant after the trade in ’07. What’s changed, since you’ve been there?
PP: I just think, more and more, you see great players go through Boston and the easier it is for other players to follow. Everybody already knows about the tradition. There’s a lot of guys, in the past, who look at Boston as racist. It’s kind of been labeled that way. And I just think over the years, it’s really grown past that. With the addition of me and some of the other guys that have been playing in Boston, it’s changed.
Dime: Have you noticed a difference since you were there? I know you were playing with ‘Toine [Antoine Walker] and those were different teams…?
PP: The thing about Boston, they just love their sports, they love the Celtics. If you don’t put a product out there that’s up to the Boston Celtics standard, then that’s where the controversy and the media, and all that stuff — all that comes in. Everybody looks at the Boston Celtics, and the city, and you see all these championships. So they expect, that’s the expectation [to win]. It’s not just another franchise. If you look at other sports franchises, different sports franchises. You look at Boston, you look at Los Angeles, you look at the New York Yankees, these are all prominent-type franchises. They don’t expect to lose at anything.
Dime: And you like that?
PP: You like that. You gotta like that history and the franchise; you gotta like those expectations.
Dime: Are you hoping to bring that to Brooklyn?
PP: I think Brooklyn, they’re setting the foundation. So they can be in the category with the Yankees, with the Celtics, or the Lakers someday. I think the foundation the ownership is setting is bringing the fans back to Brooklyn. They want to win. That’s the only thing — you have to have ownership, you have to put together ownership and the people that’s really excited about winning. You can tell by the way the owner has opened the pocketbook, and moved to bring a team [to Brooklyn]. I think it’s something you’ll continue to see.