The following is the interview that TNT basketball analyst John Thompson, an ex-Celtic, did recently with the Celtics star trio of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. The interview will run tonight on TNT.
JOHN THOMPSON: Twenty four wins last year, how reluctant were you, to go to a team that had won only 24 games last year?
KEVIN GARNETT: I don’t think it was necessarily the 24 games, it was more the direction of the team and what they saw for the future as far as winning. When they did the trade for Ray it exemplified you know, we’re here to win now we’re not waiting on the young team. We’re not waiting on the young guys we’re here to win now, and before then I didn’t look at the situation like that, you know trying to figure out, one, wow like really grip it in my mind like why you’re about to be moved and there’s nothing you can do about it and embracing that was probably the hardest part. When I had to look at different options before the trade obviously they were similar to the situation I was already currently in and I didn’t want to do that. I knew that you know probably I wanted to play for the next probably 3, 4, 5 years or however long the number I came up with. I didn’t want to be in that position or in that current position so… Draft day changed all that for me, I started to take that option a lot more serious, and I did, at the end of the day I weighed all the options and looked at it I wasn’t gonna get two better teammates than this right here.
JOHN THOMPSON: Paul, everybody talks about the acceptance of you three guys of each other, Ray touches on an interesting point, how do you feel the three of you will be accepted by your teammates because of the attention that you guys will get because of who you are?
Paul Pierce: Well the crazy thing about it, even in a short period of time we’ve become a close-knit group and I think the trip to Rome really helped us out because we had a chance to go out there and bond, after practice it was all about us being together. And you know we talked about a lot of stuff, you know everybody understands that a lot of attention is gonna come this way but that’s part of the game and that’s what happens in this game so I don’t think they worry about this, everybody has a role in this and everybody has to understand their role and that’s important for us to let everybody know, the coaches, everybody know that everybody gonna play a big role in this. If you look at the championship teams you understand who the star players are, what they’re gonna do, but it’s the other guys that’s gonna get them over the top. If you look at the John Paxons’, the Robert Horrys’, the Steve Kerrs’, those are guys that help you win championships and you let them know.
COACH THOMPSON: How important was it for you three guys to be playing with somebody you were comfortable with, you know these guys are coming into your domain, its not just the fact they could play but how conscious are you of who they are and how you could get along?
Paul Pierce: Well I got so much respect for them, I’ve watched them over the years. These guys have established themselves and I wanted them to come in there and be themselves and that’s what I told them the first day they got here I want yall to be yallselves because I never played with a group of people that I trusted so much. That I’m willing to sacrifice whatever I done in the past for the better of the team anyway because of the level of trust I’m giving them. This is an unbelievable experience were gonna go through it definitely humbles you when you’ve been through the type of seasons I’ve been through and especially last year me going through a foot injury missing as many, I never missed so many games. And its like now on the weak side when I passed the ball before when I passed the ball I didn’t trust my teammates and now I got guys that when I make that pass I believe their gonna get the job done just as much as I feel like I can get the job done. Its so much of a relief that it doesn’t bother me. For them to come over here and see them successful means everything in the world for me because just to see KG make a all-star team or MVP or Ray make all-star or MVP if I don’t I’ll still be the happiest guy in the world because I’ll know I was a part of that.
COACH: Can you guys win the East with a rookie 2nd year point guard?
Kevin Garnett: Absolutely.
Paul Pierce: I don’t see why not.
Kevin Garnett: I don’t see why not either. The East is tough. It’s no different than the West. I mean you throw style out and stuff like that but, still good teams, guys that go out and play hard every night. Still guys with above average talent, still have stars that will be up for playing us every night. But I think Rondo is going to surprise a lot of ya’ll. A lot of people on the outside ask that question you asked because he’s aware that us three are going to be trapped and schemed defensively. He knows he’s that outlet. He’s going to surprise you. Kid’s got a great I.Q. for the game, scrappy, on every play on defense, runs this team like a point should. He’s young but very impressive.
Coach: You guys, I can see you get along, but in 80 games in the NBA you’ll have your ups and downs. And more will be made out of it because it’s you three…and it won’t be holding hands all the time, they’ll be differences.
KG: We’ll cross that bridge though. Granted w get along but like brothers, the beautiful fact is we can have differences. There’s a bigger objective here.
Ray Allen: It’s the respect though. What he does, what Paul does, what I do. When something goes wrong you can’t hide from it. You’ve got to clear the air. You have to know that each of these 12 guys has a career, and has a stake in this. When something goes wrong, you’ve got to own up to it. Because 2 points goes up there for the Celtics or against the Celtics. When you’re in that locker room we just have to respect each other. You have space, this is what I do, this is what you do. When you come together and understand that, you can deal with adversity. You can talk to someone like a man and say it’s my fault and move on. We’ve all been on bad teams, and you start pointing fingers and don’t take culpability for your own actions. We take culpability, and try to figure out how we get past this and then we’ll be fine.
Coach: I did an interview with you that was one of the most touching and honest interviews. And you came to tears about wanting to win and playing with guys who wanted to win. Do you have that now Kevin?
KG: I definitely have that. I, probably out of the three of us, am more grateful that anything. This is probably going to be, God willing, the last team I play on. When you have a little bit of success in this league, it bonds to you. And when that is taken away from you, for whatever reason, it hurts. It’s what it is. I’m rejuvenated man, I’m excited. The opportunity to play next to two guys who understand me and feel me. It’s a joy coming in here everyday. I know it sounds premature or commercial.