Pierce Explains Why He Decided On One More Year
PLAYA VISTA, Calif. – Paul Pierce looked at the talent of the team around him and how he felt during his offseason workouts and finally made an ultimate decision on his future.
The 18-year NBA veteran would come back for a 19th and final season to try to help bring a title to the Clippers.
“I think as older players, once you see that drive fall off in the summer, then I think it's time to hang it up,” Pierce said. “Early in the summer, I really didn't feel like getting up, going to the gym, working out, but as the summer progressed and I thought about the year and I thought about the players, and I was like, last season kind of left a bad taste in my mouth with how it ended – how I played – so I just wanted to kind of go out on my own terms and have one more opportunity to win a championship with this group.”
Pierce said he believes these Clippers, in addition to having talent and a core that’s been together for years, understand one another. Recent heartbreaks, he believes, made the group stronger and ready to take the next step. In his words, “they’ve been through the trials and tribulations.”
“I think sometimes it takes that to get over the hump,” said Pierce, who’ll be 39 years old by the time the 2016-17 season rolls around. “I think, ‘Why not give it one more shot, especially the way we went out of the playoffs, the injuries?’ Obviously you've got to be good, you've got to be lucky, but I just want to just give it one more shot.”
Pierce said winning a championship home in Los Angeles for the Clippers “would be monumental,” and he thought about being a part of that.
“That's something that drove me from August, starting in August on,” Pierce said.
So, Pierce decided to return for one last run. And whatever happens in his final season, Pierce will go down as one of the best NBA players of all-time.
He’s the only active player with at least 25,000 points, 7,000 rebounds and 4,500 assists. He’s a 10-time NBA All-Star and former NBA champion and NBA Finals MVP. He’s fourth all-time in 3-pointers made, 15th all-time in games played and 16th all-time in points, still averaging 20 points per game for his career.
If Jamal Crawford had to relate the decorated forward to a rapper, there wasn’t much of a question.
“He's Snoop Dogg,” Crawford said. “He's the OG. He's seen it all, done it all, has all the experience, has all the knowledge. He's here to help lead us. Obviously, he's a champion. He's one of the best players to ever play basketball. So, we try to learn as much from him as possible, either on the court, off the court, whatever it might be.”
Pierce means as much to head coach Doc Rivers, who coached Pierce to his NBA title in Boston, as anyone on the Clippers. But Rivers knew this decision would inevitably come, and he likes the way Pierce is going about it.
“I like the way he's approaching it, especially mentally,” Rivers said. “So, it'll be a good ride. I'm glad I'm on the ride with him.”
And Pierce’s teammates hope it ends with a Clippers title.
“Obviously, we'd love for Paul to go out on top,” said Clippers guard Chris Paul. “That's the ultimate goal.”