Paul Pierce: "For me to say I haven't been frustrated is a lie"
You didn’t play against Philadelphia due to a knee and lingering elbow injury. Are you going to shut things down for the season?
Paul Pierce: I don’t think so. I will take it on a game-to-game basis, see how my body feels.
You missed 24 games earlier this year mostly due to a stress reaction to your left foot. How is your foot feeling?
PP: The foot is doing well. My knee hurts more than the foot, just from getting hit. There are nicks and knacks and it’s better to get my body healed.
With you out, the younger players are getting experience. Is this a chance for them to take advantage of extra playing time?
PP: You want to be out there but this is a good time for them also. There will be a lot of changes, or maybe little changes next year. This is a chance for guys to show who will be there next year and who won’t and this is an opportunity for them.
As a nine-year veteran, can you talk about your role as a leader to the younger players?
PP: I am a mentor, being one of the oldest on the team, being an NBA veteran. These guys come to me for leadership. It doesn’t’ stop on the court. You see it off the court a lot of times. You do certain things and get involved. They kind of follow in my footsteps, like following an older brother around. You try to be positive to them and show what it takes to be a pro, what it means and what you have to do to stick around a long time.
How difficult has the mental grind of dealing with injuries and losing been?
PP: It’s definitely mentally challenging knowing you are hurt, knowing you haven’t been hurt like this in your career and to see the team struggle. It’s been a challenge, man. A lot of players break down and get frustrated. For me to say I haven’t been frustrated is a lie. Who is not frustrated with losing and going through this type of season? But you just have to look at the positive things that come out of it, the guys growing up, Al (Jefferson) emerging to the player he is. Delonte (West) stepping up and other guys getting positive minutes that will help this franchise in the long run.
Can you see the light at the end of the tunnel for the Celtics franchise?
PP: There is a bright future for our team. A lot of players have grown right before our eyes and established themselves as NBA players. That is what you try to see from young players as they come into the league – establish themselves as legitimate pros who we will see for a long time and that is what we have seen in a few guys.
How important is it to get a veteran in the offseason to complement your game?
PP: It will be very important. Not any veteran, but a veteran who understands what it takes to win, who is going to be professional and be positive. It’s very important. Every team that has won a championship or had success has quality veterans.
Lost in the season is the fact that when you’ve been healthy, you have played at a high level, averaging 25 points per game. Due to the consistent losing, your individual accomplishments haven’t been noticed too much. Is that difficult?
PP: Definitely. Not making the All-Star team. Not being on national television. People forget about you. It’s not like I can worry about it. It’s been an up and down year for us. But that is all right. You have to stay positive and go the way I’ve been going, be a mentor to the guys and help them get better as well as myself.
You had offseason elbow surgery and this year you have been banged up. This is your ninth year and you will be 30 in October... So do you worry about age and injuries creeping up on you?
PP: I really don’t think of injuries. If you start thinking of injuries and getting hurt that is when you will get hurt. I really don’t think about it.
Has it been annoying to hear all of the lottery talk this year?
PP: I really don’t get all into it. Yes we will be a lottery team but I don’t’ get too much into it. My focus is finishing up the season.
During the offseason Boston and Philadelphia had trade talks, discussing sending Allen Iverson to Boston. What were your thoughts on that?
PP: I wouldn’t send him to Boston.
PP: It is an intra-conference rival who you face four times a year and most trades like that don’t happen.
Would you have enjoyed playing with Iverson?
PP: It would have been fun. It would have brought some excitement, I think.
You have been to the postseason four different years. What has been like to be a playoff participant?
PP: It’s a whole different ball game, a whole new season once playoffs. I break the season into four parts – preseason, the first and second half and then the playoffs. Each part I just try to elevate my game.
Marc Narducci covers the NBA for the Philadelphia Inquirer and is a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com
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