Paul Pierce: Kobe 'defined' his era

LOS ANGELES -- They battled for championships on opposite sides of the NBA's most storied rivalry.

Paul Pierce's Boston Celtics won the first round in 2008. Kobe Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers won the rematch two years later.

Pierce on Tuesday lamented Bryant's latest injury, a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder that will require surgery and is expected to keep Bryant sidelined for the remainder of the 2014-15 season.

"It always saddens me, knowing that Kobe, who is one of my NBA brothers, we lose [him] due to injury," Pierce said during shootaround before the Washington Wizards beat the Lakers 98-92 at Staples Center. "It always saddens me."

Their trash talk hasn't been as fierce of late, with 36-year-old Bryant's Lakers in rebuilding mode and 37-year-old Pierce now playing for the Wizards.

But the connection remains.

"A lot of fans around the league pay to watch Kobe, a lot of fans around the world," Pierce said. "Regardless of how the Lakers are doing or not, he's an icon. He's a player who defined his generation. A lot of people that come out here to see him."

Bryant recently raved about how much he enjoyed on-court banter with Pierce, even at this late stage in their careers.

"It's just fun. We're one of the last two of our generation," said Pierce, who sat out Tuesday with a toe injury. "That's pretty much a lot of the things we talked about on the court, a little bit of a trash in there.

"But we also said there's no more trash-talkers in the league today coming up. It's a generation that's passing by, and a lot of these guys are friends. I don't think this new generation is as competitive as we were with the past guys."

Pierce pegged the change to technology.

"Computers," Pierce said. "They play 'NBA 2K' instead of going to the park."

Bryant said in a Sports Illustrated article last summer that he planned to study Pierce's playing style -- one often described as an "old-man's game" -- to see how to adjust his game and be more effective as a veteran.

"I think Kobe realizes he's not the athlete he used to be," Pierce said. "I've never been as great an athlete as he has been. Some of the things people have been saying about how I've been able to be successful for so long in the way I score the ball and my basketball IQ and footwork and the fakes and the angles that I play. I've been able to do that for the length of my career."