Published September 30, 2013
NEW YORK – Paul Pierce won plenty of Atlantic Division titles during his days with the Boston Celtics, but at the end of the seasons when he exited the playoffs without lifting the Larry O'Brien trophy, none of those six divisional titles didn't carried any weight.
The only one that mattered was the one he captured during the 2008 season, en route to his first and only NBA title.
Pierce, along with his teammate Kevin Garnett, made it known that they're in Brooklyn for one thing only: to win it all in June. Beating out their new rivals, the defending division champs New York Knicks, isn't what's on Pierce's mind.
"Truthfully, that's not that important to me. I came here to win a championship. I don't even want to see an Atlantic banner put up if we win it," Pierce said during Monday's Nets media day session at Barclays Center.
"I don't even know how many Atlantic Division championships we won in Boston. ... I don't remember getting a hat, a T-shirt, a call for winning an Atlantic Division. You don't get anything for it," the 15-year-veteran added.
With the Celtics letting Doc Rivers head to the West Coast to take charge of the Los Angeles Clippers, it became apparent that Pierce's and Garnett's futures in Boston were ending. Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov gave general manager Billy King the green light to bring over the Celtics' core after a first-round loss to an undermanned Chicago Bulls team in seven games ended the team's inaugural season in Brooklyn.
It took a good sales pitch from Pierce and the Nets front office to get Garnett to waive his no-trade clause and accept the trade, a series of moves that King made in overhauling last season's roster. In that deal, Brooklyn also landed Jason Terry, another veteran with championship pedigree, and then went out and signed free agents Shaun Livingston, Alan Anderson and Andrei Kirilenko.
Top to bottom, the Nets think they are as good as any other team in the Eastern and Western Conference, but according to Pierce, it will come down to how that new equation plays out once training camp opens and the season tips off at Cleveland on Oct. 30.
"I think every championship team has its own different ingredients on how they go about it. Obviously, Miami has theirs, Dallas had theirs and it's up to us," Pierce said. "Boston had theirs. So I think with this different group, it's up to us to come up with something that we can kind of use to bond together, to help us understand our clear goal as a championship (team) and what we need to do.
"The way you win one championship is certainly not going to be the way you win the next one. Every team is different. All the personalities are different and so it's just up to us to figure it out."
Pierce's perfect example was how it all changed once the Celtics made their move, acquiring Garnett and Ray Allen, eventually lifting the team's championship hopes. But he did caution that just because a certain formula works for one team, the possibility exists that it won't pan out for the next.
"(Before the trade) we still were the Boston Celtics. We still were a team (that) probably that didn't have championship aspirations at the time, but I think every team, every championship team has their own chemistry set," Pierce said.
The Nets will hold their training camp over the next few days at Duke University, a way to get away from the distractions of being home in New York and develop a sense of unity.
And before the team went through its official drills, there was friction in the locker room — but in a kind way, when they discussed coach Jason Kidd's idea to limit Garnett's usage in back-to-backs.
"It didn't go to well. I'm just being honest," Garnett said, drawing laughs in the room.
"I just don't want to be told anything. I hope I've earned the right to have an opinion in something that I'm doing. But I think more importantly, seriously, chemistry standpoint, I think it's important for me to be out there with everybody and I think it will speed the chemistry process up a little quicker, I think."