Behind the Scenes, Trio Already Seems at Home
Before the press conference began, Pierce, Garnett and Allen shared some laughs in the green room.
BOSTON - When Paul Pierce arrived in the green room before Tuesday night's press conference, he said to a group of Celtics front office staffers, "It's a whole new ballgame."
And when Kevin Garnett finally arrived and made eye contact with Pierce, he raised his eyebrows, grinned and said, "What's up, P?"
Pierce knows what's up. Raising outstretched arms, he asked Garnett, "Where you been all my life?"
By their nature, press conferences are generally pretty generic affairs. Hold up the new jersey, check. Smile for the camera, check. Say all the right things, check.
And while Tuesday's presser had its moments, and Garnett, Pierce and Ray Allen all seemed pretty excited about being together on stage, and each talked about building chemistry, their camaraderie really emerged when the cameras were off, the live feeds had shut down and the notebooks had been pocketed.
Doing a quick promotional photo shoot about 30 minutes after the conference ended, the guys took a few minutes just to find a straight face before getting the picture down. Garnett was bursting out laughing when Pierce started flashing his tough guy mug while Allen smiled like an angel. But forget the looks on their faces; just figuring out who would stand where was a challenge. Garnett wasn't presumptuous enough to position himself in the middle, but Pierce insisted. "Where your guns at, man? That's where you put your guns, on this side and that side," Pierce said, referring to himself and Allen.
After the shoot, Allen was giving Garnett tips on throwing out the first pitch at a Red Sox game, warning him that he'd better throw a strike. Hell hath no fury like Fenway fans.
KG certainly has a lot to learn about Boston, and he said he asked former Celtics Antoine Walker and Gary Payton for their insight on the city before the trade went down. And that said, he's still working on logistics. Garnett was asking for restaurant recommendations from front office folks, and both his and Allen's family have already started some serious house hunting. Garnett jokingly compared the whirlwind tour of his last 72 hours to "being in a Lamborghini doing 200 with your head stuck out the window."
But the transition to a new team, which Garnett clearly isn't taking lightly, should be eased by his apparent familiarity with his new teammates. As veterans, they certainly know each other's games from competition in the NBA ranks, but Garnett also has history with both Pierce and Allen from their amateur careers. Pierce and Garnett won a high school basketball tournament together back in 1995, and Allen and Garnett also teamed back in their high school days.
But that was over a decade ago, and since then these three guys have spent most of that time trying to carry teams by themselves. Now they can lean on each other, and none of them have ever played alongside such talent.
And while it's all new to them, more than anything, the deal signifies the start of a new era for the Boston Celtics, who suffered through a devastating injury-riddled 24-win campaign that was "highlighted", if you will, by an 18-game losing streak that grabbed national attention.
On July 31, the NBA's radar is back on the Celtics for all of the right reasons, and the captain couldn't be happier to be a part of it.
"I've told you in the past that the Boston Celtics is an elite franchise, and now that we've made the deals to be at an elite level, I think that's what this city's all about," Pierce said after thanking Celtics ownership for "bringing the players around me necessary for us having a shot at a ring."
Allen is well aware of the Celtics history and sees parallels between the opportunity in front of him and those of the Celtics of the 1980s.
"I remember going back to the days when this organization battled against the Lakers and every time they came in here they were afraid to walk into the Garden, and I think those are the days we're headed back to here," Allen said. "You know, an opponent walking into this building knowing that they have a lot to be afraid of, and not just from one position."
For Garnett, noted for his loyalty to the Timberwolves, the only organization he's played for in 12 years, the thought of switching teams took some getting used to. But after taking some time to reassess his options, evaluate the direction of his former franchise and visualize himself in Celtics green, the trade became a reality.
"I thought this is probably my best opportunity to win a ring," Garnett said. "So I took the steps to make those adjustments, and here we are, wearing number 5."
Now, Number 5, Number 20 and Number 34 are looking for the same thing. Number 17.
Peter Stringer covers the team for Celtics.com. You can send him .