Paul Pierce hoped to shift the focus off his hand gesture and back onto the playoffs yesterday by issuing a statement.
Pierce was fined $25,000 Monday by the NBA for making what the league deemed a "menacing gesture" toward the Hawks' bench during the Celtics' Game 3 loss in Atlanta Saturday. Celtics executive director of basketball operations Danny Ainge has described the hand gesture as "blood, sweat, and tears," and guard Rajon Rondo reiterated that interpretation yesterday.
"I don't want to take the focus away from the playoffs," Pierce said in a statement issued prior to the Celtics' 110-85 victory in Game 5 last night at TD Banknorth Garden. "In sports, emotions run high. After playing 10 years in Boston, I think the Celtics fans know that I'm a passionate player. I 100 percent do not in any way promote gang violence or anything close to it. I am sorry if it was misinterpreted that way at Saturday's game.
"In fact, through my Truth Foundation, I am committed to giving back to youth groups and making sure young people have the opportunities to succeed in life.
"I am extremely proud of the work I have done through the foundation to provide positive influences and safe havens for inner-city kids."
Pierce, who had 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists last night, did not speak to the media after the game.
"I'm happy for Paul," said coach Doc Rivers.
Future on holdCeltics forward-center P.J. Brown has described his 15th NBA season with his sixth team as an "enjoyable experience" after signing on a little more than two months ago.
The 38-year-old has played sparingly for the Celtics and is undecided whether he will return to the NBA next season or go back to retired life in the New Orleans suburb of Slidell.
"I've just been trying to process as much information as possible and I'm definitely more comfortable than I was two months ago," he said. "I'm just trying to keep myself prepared and ready for when my number is called.
"I really can't take it that far [to decide on the future]. I think it's beyond unfair to the team to be thinking down the road. We are trying to accomplish a big-time goal here and I'm trying to focus on that now."
Brown acknowledged that he has received "a little bit" of ribbing from back home for signing with the Celtics instead of returning to the nearby Hornets, who already have advanced to the second round of the playoffs.
"Most of them understand my decision," Brown said. "Family and friends are standing behind me. Most people down there in New Orleans are usually a Hornets fan or a Lakers fan. It's been fun [with the Celtics]."
Nuggets from PackEx-NBA player Robert Pack is a big Celtics fan after having played with Kevin Garnett in Minnesota and breaking bread with Rivers last year, and would love to see them win the franchise's 17th NBA title. But at the same time, the former Nuggets guard can't help but be intrigued by the eighth-seeded Hawks' efforts to repeat the history made by his former team.
Since the NBA went to its current playoff format in 1984, only three No. 8 seeds have upset No. 1 seeds - the 1994 Nuggets, the 1999 Knicks, and the 2007 Warriors. Pack was a member of the '94 Nuggets who shocked the SuperSonics.
"Being that I was a part of the first one, I've been looking at whether they're confident or not," Pack said. "We were confident. We beat Seattle during the season. We were a great team. We made mistakes, but I always look how that team played back home, and Atlanta did what they were supposed to do and they were confident.
"I do think Boston is a better team and with Kevin, Ray [ Allen], and Paul will do what they are supposed to do. They have veterans. They will step up."
Pack said there are similarities between the Nuggets-Sonics series in 1994 and the Celtics-Hawks series. The Nuggets entered the playoffs with 42 wins and played a Sonics team with 63 victories. The 2007-08 Celtics entered the playoffs with 66 wins; the Hawks had 37.
The Nuggets didn't have much playoff experience and were very athletic, as are the Hawks.
But one difference was the Nuggets-Sonics series was best of five, not best of seven.
"The Hawks have no pressure," said Pack. "They are still a team with no pressure to win. They are an underdog playing loose, relaxed. Boston is expected to be in the Finals."