Paul Pierce Calls Deron Williams and Joe Johnson ‘Vets Who Didn’t Want to Play and Didn’t Want to Practice’
Paul Pierce has said that he will only play one more season of NBA basketball after this year, and with that in mind, he’s letting his honest thoughts rip. In an abruptly honest interview with ESPN.com‘s Jackie MacMullan, The Truth ripped his former Brooklyn Nets teammates, most specifically Deron Williams and Joe Johnson. Pierce basically says Williams is soft and didn’t really care about winning or leading, and says if it weren’t for himself and KG, the Nets would have “folded up.”
PP didn’t limit his criticisms to the Nets, though, also calling out Wizards teammates John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter—or at least, suggesting that he has yet to be 100 percent convinced that they have the work ethic and motivation it takes to be superstars in the League.
That Pierce would be open and honest in the later stages of his career is perhaps not surprising, but to openly take a dump on another active player is certainly a little jarring. Read the full article here, and some of the juicier quotes from Pierce below:
“I’m much happier,” he said. “It was a tough situation (in Brooklyn) last year. Horrible, really.
“It was just the guys’ attitudes there. It wasn’t like we were surrounded by a bunch of young guys. They were vets who didn’t want to play and didn’t want to practice. I was looking around saying, ‘What’s this?’ Kevin (Garnett) and I had to pick them up every day in practice.
“If me and Kevin weren’t there, that team would have folded up. That team would have packed it in. We kept them going each and every day.”
The player that puzzled him the most, said Pierce, was point guard Deron Williams.
“Before I got there, I looked at Deron as an MVP candidate,” Pierce said. “But I felt once we got there, that’s not what he wanted to be. He just didn’t want that.
“I think a lot of the pressure got to him sometimes. This was his first time in the national spotlight. The media in Utah is not the same as the media in New York, so that can wear on some people. I think it really affected him.”
Pierce said veteran Joe Johnson was an affable professional but also a reluctant leader.
“Joe is quiet,” Pierce noted. “He doesn’t want much attention. He doesn’t say much.
“There’s a lot of secondary guys on that team. KG and I went there looking at them as the main guys who would push us, because we were advancing in years. But we ended up doing all the pushing.”
Brooklyn gave up its 2014 pick (which the Celtics used to draft James Young) and unprotected picks in 2016 and 2018 to acquire Pierce, Garnett and Jason Terry. They believed they were poised to be championship contenders, but posted an underwhelming 44-38 record and were bounced by the Miami Heat in the second round of the playoffs.
When the season ended, they declined to sign Pierce to a new deal and let him walk as a free agent.
“I would have stayed in Brooklyn because of Kevin,” Pierce said. “I told him, ‘I don’t really like this situation but I would never leave you if you want me to stay.’ But they decided not to re-sign me so I never had to make a choice. I would never have left Kevin like that.”
Garnett was traded in February to Minnesota, where he will eventually assume a front-office role as a part-owner.
“He’s happy,” Pierce said. “I’m glad he waived his no-trade clause. I told him, ‘They don’t appreciate you in Brooklyn, man.’ They didn’t even use him right.
“He’s where he’s supposed to be. He IS Minnesota. He never sold his house there.”