Garnett, Pierce and Nets talk championship or bust on media day
It is a media day tradition at 30 NBA sites for players and coaches to use the word “championship” frequently in the conversation.
But judging by the comments from veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett at their first media day as members of the Brooklyn Nets, they plan on doing everything in their power to make the words of Sept. 30 stand up in June.
Over the course of his 11-minute availability, Pierce used some variation of the word “championship” nearly 15 times.
“I think all the ingredients are in the locker room. You have the youth, we have good size, we have good veterans, we have good experience [and] know how,” Pierce said. “So I think all the things that you need for a championship-caliber team are in the locker room. It’s just how you come together, how we sacrifice and do the necessary things we need to do to make this an elite ball club.”
It took Garnett less than a minute to use the word “ring,” while speaking in measured and forceful tones about his purpose.
“We’re here to get another ring. That’s the only reason we came to Brooklyn — the only reason,” Garnett said. “But it’s good to be here, everybody’s excited. People walking by expressing their love and excitement, so it’s good.”
Pierce’s desire to win a title is so deep he said if the Nets win the Atlantic Division title this year, he does not want any of the clothing and hats.
“Truthfully, it’s not that important,” Pierce said. “I came here to win a championship. I don’t want to see an Atlantic banner put up if we win it. I don’t even know how many Atlantic Division championships we won in Boston. I don’t even know. I don’t remember getting a hat, a T-shirt, a call. You don’t get anything here for it. So the expectations have grown here.
“It’s no longer the New Jersey Nets hoping we can win the division. Now it’s the Brooklyn Nets with championship aspirations and you see that with the people around here, the owners [with] what they’ve done to turn this organization around and that’s what they’ve quietly been building around here.”
The Nets talked about winning a title last year, but the additions last offseason were Joe Johnson, C.J. Watson and Reggie Evans. This year the imports from Boston have the championship rings to back up that talk and possibly make a championship a reality for Nets fans.
A team termed “vanilla” by Jason Kidd opened up the wallet and went looking for big-ticket items in Garnett, Pierce and to some extent Jason Terry.
It means Brooklyn is open for business and that business is winning a championship, at least for this year.
“I think our own expectations and our own goals are going to exceed everybody else’s,” Garnett said. “I think we got our destiny known here and again it goes back to sacrifice and giving up your own for the betterment of others. So I think that starts with tomorrow, if not tonight.”
The additions from this summer also have the holdovers very excited.
“This is definitely a great opportunity,” Johnson said. “I will say [this is] one of the best basketball teams that I’ve been a part of even though we haven’t played yet. But I think guys are headed in the right direction.”
“Our challenge is to make it translate on court,” Lopez said. “Obviously I expect it to go very well but I think we have a lot of level-headed guys who have been through this before and just want to keep it simple and work together.”
It had to be scary for Nets fans to see Deron Williams in a walking boot due to a sprained right ankle and a bone bruise, but the good news is that Williams is out of the boot and the even better news is that he will practice Tuesday when the team convenes at Duke University.
“It’s doing better,” Williams said. “The main thing right now is I could probably go out there and do everything but if I tweak my ankle or have a setback, then that wouldn’t be good. So right now, we’re just gonna take it slow and see how things go.”
Williams also does not envision the ankle being an issue for the season opener Oct. 30 at Cleveland.
Williams appeared in 78 games last season while dealing with ankle inflammation. The inflamed ankle was such an issue that he took a third cortisone shot at the All-Star break. It worked, as he averaged 22.9 and eight assists over the final 29 games.
Williams also used his time at the podium to agree with Kidd’s comments from last week about the team’s identity being vanilla at times last season, notably in Game 7 against the Bulls.
“I just think that if you look at Game 7, we kind of were soft,” Williams said. “That’s the only way to put it and I don’t see that being a problem this year. I think us losing like we did will definitely toughen us up because we don’t want to have that feeling again.”
Follow Nets beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.