WASHINGTON — Paul Pierce, weighing his options for his NBA future, broke his radio silence Thursday to give an update on his mental state.
He hasn’t spoken publicly since the Wizards were ousted from the second round of the NBA playoffs by Atlanta. In an appearance on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Radio, Pierce told “The Players’ Tribune” hosts he has yet to make a decision on his future.
“I’m actually going on vacation next week with the family,” he said. “So we’re going to go over to Mexico and talk about it, and see what’s the best way to move forward.”
“These seasons, as you get older, they just are so long and draining,” he said. “This last playoffs really took a lot out of me, not only physically, but emotionally, because I think I put so much into the game that it takes a piece of you. It’s really all got to do with how my mental state of mind’s gonna be this summer, because I do feel like I can still play this game. I showed that this year, that I still have something left in the tank.
“But it’s just the mental part of getting ready in the summer, and getting ready for a long year. Those are the things I’ve got to think about. And my body’s finally starting to heal. Still some bumps and bruises. It’s amazing, you know it’s such a long season that a lot of guys still have injuries from the season, because it’s so long that it takes time to heal.
Pierce, who has until the end of June to decide whether to opt in to his $5.5 million second-year player option, said he will “probably know something in the next couple weeks.”
He had some illuminating thoughts about his teammates, too, sounding less like a player contemplating jumping to a new team (like “many around the league believe” he will do, as David Aldridge reported), and more like a guy imagining himself inside the Wizards locker room, still sharing the regret of defeat.
“Man, you know, it was a good run,” Pierce said. “We really have a really good young team, and a couple budding superstars. Man, it was tough. Especially, it really hurt when John broke his hand. Even though he came back, that really kind of hurt our rhythm because we [were] playing so well.
“But we felt like we were the better team if we had have stayed healthy. But we lost some heartbreaking games. You know how the playoffs are, man. Every game is close and it all came down to the end. But I’m happy with the way guys fought, and nobody expected us to beat the Raptors.
Pierce stated he believes, not only were the Wizards a better team than the Hawks, but they “probably would have gave Cleveland probably a better challenge than Atlanta” in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Hawks, as a reminder, were swept in four games.
And Pierce discussed his role as elder statesman, shepherding John Wall and Bradley Beal through the regular season with more grit than they’d shown pre-Truth, and into the playoffs where they rolled through the Raptors faster than any team in franchise history.
“I think it all starts in practice. I think these guys saw how my preparation, how hard I work,” he said. “I got to practice like two hours before practice starts. Shooting. I’m lifting weights. I’m running on the treadmill. I’m getting ready. It’s every day how you prepare. You can’t come to the gym and get there early one day, then not the next day. You have to develop some consistency in your routine. You know, that’s what I try to tell them guys. Those guys, they got a routine. I told them it’s about having great practice habits. If you want to be one of the best, it’s practice every day.
“We’re only there for two, three hours a day, so I’m like, you know guys, we got to give everything. We come out here and work out for three hours, then you go home, so don’t be bored with the process. And understand that it’s a hard process that you got to do. ”
Pierce had called Wall and Beal out prior to the start of the postseason — “Do you want to be good, or do you want to be great?” — seemingly as a point of motivation. On the radio, Pierce confessed, “I didn’t know how much of a student of the game John was, and Brad was. They really love the game. They watch it all the time, they watch college. They love the game of basketball.”
Oh, he concluded the interview with an “I called game!”
Follow the link below to listen.
The Players' Tribune (@PlayersTribune) June 04, 2015