Thursday, October 24, 2013
Starting Five: From McDonald's to BK
By Mike Mazzeo
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce haven’t been teammates their entire lives. It only feels that way.
Eighteen years ago, long before they won a title with the Boston Celtics and even longer before they were dealt to the Brooklyn Nets, Garnett and Pierce played together in the 1995 McDonald’s All-American Game. Pierce had 28 points, while Garnett had 18 points and 11 rebounds and was named MVP.
Last season, Garnett recalled when the two were teenagers and broke vases in Pierce’s mom’s living room, which led to them nearly getting "whooped."
It was then that the two forged a friendship that remains strong to this day.
Remember: Garnett was seriously contemplating retirement until Pierce convinced him to waive his no-trade clause and become a Net during a 90-minute phone conversation in the blistering heat that left Pierce sweating.
"It’s a unique situation for us to play in Boston and then to be here in Brooklyn. I think we’re kind of linked together forever. Bonded together forever, I guess," Pierce said Tuesday. "When you share a championship together and moving to another city together. We also have daughters that are the same age, two weeks apart. I got a guy that I have a special bond with probably for the rest of my life."
"I don’t think we’re the only two that have known each other since we were kids," Garnett said. "I’ve known [Chauncey] Billups for a long time. I’ve known Tyronn Lue for a long time. Obviously, Paul and I get to play with each other, but I’m sure if you go throughout the league, I think [Dwyane] Wade and LeBron [James] have known each other, [Amar'e] Stoudemire and all those young guys know each other, so it’s not different from Paul and I and the way we connect. We share the same passion for winning, and nothing has changed."
Neither, apparently, have KG’s stories, according to Pierce.
"I’ve probably heard his stories about 25 times each," Pierce said. "So when he comes and gives us the stories in the locker room here, I already know what he’s gonna say, but it’s always entertaining."
In an era full of free agency and trades, it’s remarkable that Pierce and Garnett have been able to play together as long as they have. They have been teammates since 2007-08, when KG was traded to the Celtics. That season, the duo would guide Boston to the title.
"It is rare because of the movement now in sports," Nets coach Jason Kidd said. "We are lucky we do have those two here to be able to understand what it takes to win and if one is tired, the other one can finish the sentence. The biggest thing is they have known each other since childhood. It goes a little bit further. They respect each other. But I think they both need each other to be successful. And that’s a special thing."
Maybe one day they’ll be finishing each other’s Hall of Fame speeches.
JET debuts: Jason Terry played 24 minutes Wednesday night. Read more on the blog.
Starters sit: None of the Nets’ starters played in Wednesday night’s game.
Will D-Will play in the opener? We’ll see. Deron Williams seems to be getting better every day, but he realizes it’s going to be tough.
2-2-1-1-1: That’s the new format of the NBA Finals starting in 2014.
Today’s schedule: The Nets will practice at the University of Miami on Thursday. They play the Heat on Friday in their preseason finale.