Giving It Up for Brooklyn
Garnett, Pierce and Terry say "sacrifice" is key to championship success
They’ve each won a championship, competed in NBA Finals, received numerous individual awards and collected millions upon millions of dollars in the process.
But when it comes to chasing, and capturing, the ultimate goal of an NBA championship — something the Brooklyn Nets have yet to achieve — Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry all settled on one word to describe the difference between teams that win the title, and those that never quite can.
“Sacrifice,” Garnett intimated when asked by the Eagle what it would take for the Nets’ newly re-shaped roster to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy come next summer.
“It’s what you end up giving up,” added the 37-year-old, 18-year NBA veteran. “You have to be willing to do what you don’t normally do. Instead of coming in and taking 25 shots, you take 12 or less shots. And then you have to put forth the effort to play defense. These are the things, to me, that make the difference for championship teams.”
The newly arrived trio from Boston received a hero’s welcome to our fair borough within the friendly confines of the state-of-the-art Barclays Center on the corners of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues on Thursday afternoon.
And to a man, the former Celtics were adamant about their desire not only to fit into their new digs, but to thrive within them.
“The reason we won in Boston was just how we dealt with each other, and communicated with each other,” added Garnett, who teamed with Pierce to win an NBA championship with the Celtics in 2008 and came within a single victory of grabbing another crown in 2010. “So many different situations come up, but at the end of the day, you have to communicate. You have to be able to understand each other.”
Garnett, who had to waive his no-trade clause in order to be part of Thursday’s offseason celebration, is known for his no-nonsense, oftentimes fury-inspiring approach to the game.
It’s an attitude he hopes he can pass on to his new Net teammates.
“It’s unfortunate that we had to move from Boston, but one of the major reasons I decided to come here is because of the talent they have here already,” he said.
Pierce, a certified “killer” in the clutch and former Finals MVP, re-iterated his long-time teammates feelings on building a championship culture here in Brooklyn, even if after 15 years in Boston, he still is getting used to the idea of suiting up for another NBA franchise.
“It’s really starting to sink in as we speak,” the 35-year-old, 15-year vet admitted. “I saw my jersey up in the locker room. But for me to actually be here now, looking for a place to live, be in this arena, trying to learn my way around the city, it’s really starting to sink in that I’m no longer a boston Celtic. I’m a Brooklyn Net. We’re trying to create some type of legacy here in Brooklyn.”
“We’re championship driven,” Pierce added. “We’ve made a lot of money in our careers. won a lot of awards. At this point right now, we’re all about winning a championship. We want to be one of those teams that can compete for the championship.”
Terry, who was new Nets coach Jason Kidd’s running mate in Dallas when the Mavericks beat the Miami Heat for the 2011 title, was equally fervent in his desire to help Brooklyn do whatever it takes to have a parade down Atlantic Avenue much sooner than later.
“We’re here to compete for a championship,” said one of the NBA’s top sharp-shooting sixth men. “Playing with Jason, he was already coaching his entire life as a point guard. I’ve been in Atlanta, Dallas, Boston and now to be able to call Brooklyn my home, I’m just very honored. And ready!”
“Those [years in Dallas with coach Kidd] were some of the best years in my career,” added the 35-year-old with 14 NBA seasons under his belt. “We wound up winning a championship. Playing alongside Jason, the best point guard ever to play in the history of the game, he was always coaching. If there was a practicie to be run, he was always out there, drawing up plays. I think this transition for him is going to be smooth. I love playing for a guy who understands me and understands my game.”
Already armed with a strong foundation in All-Star center Brook Lopez, two-time Olympic champion point guard Deron Williams and six-time All-Star shooting guard Joe Johnson, the newest Nets know there will be an adjustment period in Brooklyn, at least initially.
But with the proper “communication” and “sacrifice”, all three believe Brooklyn can challenge Miami, Chicago, Indiana, and yes, even the East River rival New York Knicks for the right to play for the O’Brien Trophy next June.
“You can’t just look at the names, you have to look at what everybody brings,” Pierce insisted. “I think we all compliment each other. Kevin brings a ferocious intensity and know-how. You put him beside Brook Lopez, who is still learning and is already one of the best centers in the NBA, having Kevin around can only help him.
“We already said sacrifice,” he added. “We want them to continue to be All-Stars and potentially MVP candiates as we chase the ultimate goal. We have no choice but to make this work, so we have to figure it out.”
Kidd, a novice at the coaching game, will be responsible for making sure one of the NBA’s most decorated, yet long-in-the-tooth, starting fives gels, both on and off the court.
He and general manager Billy King will be on the hook if this $180 million roster doesn’t click come playoff time, especially after last season’s 49-win club suffered a humbling first-round playoff exit at the hands of a seemingly tougher, grittier but short-handed Chicago Bulls unit.
“I think we’re talking about a championship,” said Kidd. “Whether we’re talking about Miami, Chicago, Indiana, and New York too. The big picture is that championship trophy. … Our job is to win ballgames. Billy has put together a roster that’s deep. These guys don’t have to play 35 to 38 minutes a night. My job is to watch the clock, and make sure these guys stay fresh and healthy. The bigger picture is for these guys to be healthy heading into the playoffs.”
For King, who spent last summer re-signing Williams and Lopez, while bringing in the likes of Johnson and backup big man Andray Blatche, taking a chance on three players with a combined age of 107 years, was a no-brainer.
Especially with billionaire team owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who had a late guest appearance at Thursday’s press conference, mandating an NBA crown within his first five years of ownership.
“If you can add players, you want to add players with a championship pedigree,” noted King.
So rather than pouring over the stat sheet, worrying about their shots and/or minutes, or even the amount of credit they get for the team’s success, this Beantown-to-Brooklyn trio is well aware that it will ultimately be judged by whether or not it can legitimately chase down the one thing that has averted this franchise since it’s inception.
“We have to understand the bigger picture [is a championship],” Pierce said. “We have high basketball IQs. The great players somehow always figure it out, and I think we will.”
Hoop du Jour: D.J. White, the fourth player acquired in the blockbuster deal with Boston on Draft Night, has already been put on waivers by the Nets, according to GM Billy King. Over his five-year NBA career with Oklahoma City, Charlotte and Boston, White has averaged 6.0 points and 3.2 rebounds in 136 games. Originally selected by the Detroit Pistons with the 29th pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, White averaged 2.4 points and 1.1 rebounds in 12 games with the Celtics last season. … The Nets’ other new signee, Russian F Andrei Kirilenko, was not present at Thursday’s introductory press conference as he remained overseas to tend to personal matters.
For even more coverage on the Nets’ new players and how they’ll fit in here in Brooklyn, check back here on www.brooklyneagle.com throughout the week, pick up the Daily Eagle print edition or try out new Eagle sports blog, produced and edited by Rob Abruzzese.
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