Paul Pierce struggles through Nets introduction

pierce garnett

Today was the day that it all became real.

Those pictures of Garnett and Pierce jerseys weren’t Photoshopped.  It wasn’t an elaborate promo for TBS’s “Deal With It.”

Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are Brooklyn Nets.  (Oh, and Jason Terry too).

Kevin Garnett has been here before.  His departure from Minnesota seems to have been ages ago.  This whole “change of address” thing is just something he’s got to do one more time before he disappears in Malibu somewhere.

But Pierce… this is all new.

“Well, you know, is tough” were the first words uttered to the media by Paul Pierce as an official Brooklyn Net.  For much of the rest of the way, he seemed ill at ease with what was really happening.

“It’s all starting to sink in as we speak,” he said with a forlorn face.  ”I’m no longer a Boston Celtic, I’m a Brooklyn Net.”

We heard immediately after the Celtics 2012-13 season ended that Pierce’s camp was preparing for the end of his time in Boston.  But the months that have passed have clearly done nothing to prepare Pierce for this particular moment.  And there was no hiding it.

Paul Pierce looks like he’d like to get on the 1 PM Amtrak to Boston.

— Jason Gay (@jasonWSJ) July 18, 2013

Kevin Garnett seemed to be much more comfortable with everything.   He played to the crowd, turned on some of the trademark KG charm, and even “next question’ed” someone.  He also made it clear that it wasn’t his first choice, so it’s no surprise to hear Pierce had to convince Garnett to make this happen.

 I was like, ‘Do you understand what’s going on in Boston? The Clippers thing appears to be dead. So what do you think, big fella? I know you don’t want to retire. I KNOW you don’t want to retire. You have too much in the tank, you love the game too much. Sometimes you just have to tell Kevin sit back and think about it. He reacts to everything. Like his initial reaction to everything is, ‘No.’ [If you said,] ‘Kevin I got a $100 million,’ [he'd say,] ‘No.’ Then he has to sit back and think about it and then once he warms up to it, he makes his decision, and that’s about anything. I knew his initial reaction was going to be against it, but I knew this was going to be a long conversation.”

We know how that panned out, so here we are.  And if you strip away the emotion of it all, even Paul Pierce agrees this deal made sense.

Pierce said he wants to be a GM someday. And if he was offered same deal Danny Ainge got from Brooklyn, he said he would have taken it.

— Chris Forsberg (@ESPNForsberg) July 18, 2013

Now, we move forward.  This was clearly an emotional day for Pierce, and for Celtics fans who had hoped to see Pierce play forever in Boston.

In a weird way, it made me feel better about everything.  We’re all uncomfortable about this, but these guys have no choice but to move on, so really, neither do we.  The Celtics made a deal they had to make to get assets that could help them immensely, and the Nets made a deal that could help them win a title (or “win New York”, which seems to be a very important thing to them).

But for Paul Pierce, who has made so much look so easy over 15 years, today was difficult.  Just like it was difficult for all of us to watch.