Paul Pierce on return to Boston: "Toughest game I ever had to play"
Sometimes when players return to their former team’s court, you are not entirely sure how they are going to be received. So much of it depends upon the circumstances in which they left. Vince Carter, for example, is still booed every time he returns to Toronto, but that was because of the way that he left the franchise. The return of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Boston Garden on Sunday night was equally predictable, but the outcome was very different.
Pierce and Garnett were introduced with celebratory cheers and a thunder of applause. It was no coincidence that Pierce and Garnett had such a difficult time focusing on the game itself.
"It was tougher than any championship game,” Pierce said. “Tougher than any Game 7. This game was just so hard to really just focus and concentrate on what was at hand. I saw so many friends, so many people I've known throughout the years. Then you get showered with love throughout the game, you see so many Garnett jerseys, my jerseys and it's every second you're on the bench, every second during the game, people are calling your name. It was tough. But I'm happy we got it over with and I can get back to playing basketball now.”
Garnett also said, "This was by far the hardest day I've had to focus. This was bigger than Minnesota, even when I went back to Minnesota."
Pierce and Garnett had dinner with Rondo the night before, but things were different now. Rondo would now be the opponent for one night, instead of the teammate. And in all likelihood, Pierce and Garnett will never return to Boston, but being the competitors that they are, they are going to give the same amount of effort for Brooklyn as they did for Boston. However, it will always be a bit more of a challenge when they play against Boston.