In 1994, Robert Parish had been a veteran of 14 seasons with the Boston Celtics during which time they had won three championships. But as a free agent at the ripe age of 40, Parish elected to sign with the Charlotte Hornets instead of returning to a Celtics team without many of his former star teammates. So Parish knows exactly how Paul Pierce will feel the first time he dons a uniform other than the white and green.
Celtics general manager Danny Ainge recently decided to blow up a Celtics nucleus that had competed for the NBA title since they were first brought to Boston in the summer of 2007. He traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets and let coach Doc Rivers go to the Clippers in exchange for a first round draft pick.
Robert Parish spoke with the Sean Deveney of the Sporting News about how the Celtics dynasty in the 1980s probably stayed together too long, and how Ainge used his experience on those teams when making his decision to start over this summer.
Parish also offered some advice on what Pierce can expect when he looks down to see Brooklyn Nets, rather than the Boston Celtics, on his jersey.
“Just accept the fact that it is going to be awkward initially. That’s all. Because he has worn the Celtics green for so long and it is going to be really awkward for him. But it was time for a change and what I do like about what the Celtics did for Pierce and Garnett, they didn’t send them somewhere to another situation that is not going to be successful. They sent them someplace where they are going to win. Garnett and Pierce have earned that right.”
Paul Pierce has never played for another NBA team over his 15-year career, but at the age of 35 (he’ll turn 36 in February next season), he’s headed to Brooklyn with his Celtics teammate, KG. While Parish can understand what it feels like to wear a different uniform after spending a decade and a half with one team competing for titles, he also sees some similarities between himself and the teammate Pierce and KG left behind, Rajon Rondo.
Rondo’s prickly nature with the press is well known, and while Parish doesn’t know Rondo personally, he cautions outside observers to remember there is context to what may be perceived as a less-than genial exterior.
“Just going by what I have heard, I have heard he has a talent for being difficult,” Parish said. “But you can say that about most of us. I know I had my moments. For me, if I don’t know you, I come across as being aloof and distant if I don’t know you. I am just quiet if I don’t know you. I can be very stoic looking, that’s just my facial expression. I don’t smile a lot. I come across as being arrogant and dismissive, even if that is not the case. I know what it is to be misunderstood. I can’t say for sure that’s the case with Rondo, but I can understand it if it is.”
But Parish added, “A bad reputation doesn’t mean you can’t fix it. It can happen.”
What do you think about Parish’s thoughts on Rondo? Or his advice for Pierce about playing in a new city after so long with the same team?
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