Upon returning to the TD Garden for the first time as an opposing player, former Celtics captain Paul Pierce sat down with Celtics play-by-play announcer Mike Gorman. Pierce was traded during the offseason along with Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets, a move seen as a step toward rebuilding the Celtics.
"It became kind of a mutual thing to where they were kind of going in one direction," Pierce told Gorman. "Me and KG would have loved to stay and try to make another run at it in a Celtic uniform, but we understood that wasn't going to happen. You realize when the writing's on the wall that it's time to move on."
After winning an NBA title with the Celtics, departing the team for which he served as captain was not easy on Pierce.
"Definitely one of the hardest [parts of my career] when you think up off the top [of your head.] Just knowing that I've always preached I want to be a Celtic for life, retire in a Celtic jersey, try to win another ring -- it was very difficult."
Before taking his team to the highest level, Pierce led the Celtics during the low years. Former teammate Rajon Rondo has been put in that same position; he was announced as captain before his first game since returning from an ACL tear.
"It's going to be difficult at times," Pierce said. "You have to be patient, you have to be a leader. I had the chance to talk with him -- even last night we all had dinner: me, him and Kevin -- and so I think he understands. He knew what was coming, but it's his chance to show that he's a leader and he can grow with a team."
Gorman asked Pierce if he would return to the Celtics in some capacity after his playing career. Pierce became known in Boston as the player who gives the game what it needs and, well ...
"I love being around the game of basketball," Pierce said. "I feel like I can just give something back, whether it's in coaching or in the front office or in broadcasting or whatever. I love the game, I want to do something that's part of the game and bring my knowledge and expertise back no matter what it is. If there's a place for me, I'll try to find my niche. But I think I'm pretty versatile in a lot of things in this business that I can find something to do."