Paul Pierce played all 15 of his NBA seasons with the Celtics, before the team’s GM Danny Ainge decided it was time to enter a full-fledged rebuild, which meant ridding the club of expensive veteran salaries that remained on the roster.
Pierce and Kevin Garnett were traded to the Nets this offseason, and Doc Rivers — who spent the last nine seasons in Boston — ended up leaving too, for an opportunity to coach a contender in the Los Angeles Clippers.
But it wasn’t how Rivers wanted to see his former champions go out, especially in Pierce’s case.
From Justin Barrasso of WEEI.com:
“I didn’t want Paul to go, even though I knew it was coming,” said Rivers. “That was a tough one for me. Even when I was here and it was being talked about — my thing is, Kobe [Bryant] is going to end up being a Laker for life.Dirk [Nowitzki] is going to be a Maverick. That’s the one thing that, if we didn’t do right, that was the one right thing we didn’t do for Paul.”
That’s the unfortunate side of the business of basketball — once veterans reach the twilight of their careers, teams need to start focusing on the future and need to begin making tough decisions.
I tend to side with Rivers here, though, in that Pierce and Garnett can still play, and with a healthy Rajon Rondo in place, Ainge could have brought everyone back for another run. It’s actually an easier decision to blow it all up, because there won’t be any scrutiny on the front office or expectations for success next season.
Pierce may indeed have deserved better, and to finish his Hall of Fame career as a Celtic. Only time will tell if Ainge made the correct decision in terms of when exactly to begin Boston’s rebuilding project.
NEW YORK (AP) — Craig Sager’s fight with leukemia will prevent the basketball sideline reporter form covering the Rio Olympics for NBC.
NBC said Thursday in a statement that the 65-year-old Sager is preparing for a third bone marrow transplant at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Sager was first diagnosed with leukemia in 2014 and announced in March that he was no longer in remission.
The Rio Games would have been Sager’s fifth Olympics.
Sager has worked for Turner Sports for 34 years. At the ESPY Awards this month, Vice President Joe Biden presented Sager with the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance.
With so much focus in recent weeks being on NBA players speaking out on social issues, it’s worth remembering that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been one of the most vocal athletes in America on these things for decades. The Hall of Fame and all-time leading scorer in NBA history addressed the Democratic National Convention on Thursday evening, urging voters to vote for Hillary Clinton in November, and opened his remarks by introducing himself as Michael Jordan, because “Donald Trump couldn’t tell the difference.”
You can watch the video of his speech below:
In the weeks since Kevin Durant announced he was signing with the Golden State Warriors, we have yet to hear Russell Westbrook speak on his former teammate’s decision. This week, ESPN.com’s Royce Young indicated in a podcast interview that Durant was telling Westbrook and others in the days leading up to his decision that he was coming back to Oklahoma City. He later walked back his report, saying he misspoke. On Thursday, Durant himself told The Vertical‘s Shams Charania that he never said any such thing, or misled Westbrook or anyone else about his intentions.
“It’s false,” Durant told The Vertical on Thursday. “I didn’t say that – words about me telling Russell or Nick that I would stay or leave never came out of my mouth. We met as teammates, but no promises came out of it. In this day and age, I can’t control anything people claim out there. Someone can go out and say something random right now, and people will believe it.
“I never told Russell or Nick [Collison], ‘All right, guys, I’m coming back to the Thunder’ – and then a week later, I decide not to. Never happened. I don’t operate like that. I heard people say that story, but it’s not the truth.”
So that settles that.