View Full Version : Pierce’s silence says volumes after defeat

11-25-2006, 12:17 PM
Pierce’s silence says volumes after defeat

By Tony Massarotti
Boston Herald Sports Columnist
Saturday, November 25, 2006 - Updated: 01:15 AM EST

There were boos and there were jeers, and the most disgruntled souls even called for the coach to be fired. Yet despite all of that noise at TD Banknorth Garden, most deafening was the silence of the captain.

The Celtics laid an ostrich egg in a 101-77 loss to the New York Knicks last night, but that is just the beginning of the story. One or two sections of fans well behind the Boston bench concluded the debacle by calling for the dismissal of Celtics coach Doc Rivers - “Fi-re Doc!” they chanted - but it was C’s captain Paul Pierce who did the most damage by hanging his coach out to dry.

At least now we know the Celtics’ new team motto:

Every man for himself.

“I have no reaction to the crowd,” a terse Pierce said when asked about the fans calling for his coach’s firing.

And that was that.

Of course, as is frequently the case, what was not stated was far more important than what was. Celtics center Kendrick Perkins was among those who defended Rivers last night. So was forward Al Jefferson. Celtics guard Delonte West ultimately conceded that “it’s not right” to pin the blame on Rivers for the Celtics’ record, which is 4-8 after consecutive losses to Charlotte and New York.

But Pierce? He said nothing, though that was a fitting complement to his performance on the floor. Pierce finished the game with 12 points and just two rebounds, and he had more turnovers (six) than trips to the foul line (five).

Then, when he might have simply suggested that the players need to take responsibility for their performance, he gave a non-answer that will trigger a chain reaction of follow-ups.

Why didn’t Pierce defend his coach? Have Pierce and Rivers ever really buried the hatchet? And what does it say if the best player on the team seems to take some measure of satisfacion in his coach being criticized?

For now, know this: We live in a supersaturated media age where athletes literally go to camp to learn how to answer questions. The postgame interview generally has become a marketing tool. Most every player understands that he has everything to gain by spitting out cliches and company lines, and teams are expected to show a certain measure of solidarity, particularly at the most trying moments.

For the Celtics, last night marked one of those times. To say that the team stunk would be a gross understatement. In losing to the Knicks - at home - by 24 points, the Celtics were outrebounded, 48-30, and they allowed their opponents to shoot precisely 50 percent from the floor.

The Knicks took 39 free throws to the Celtics’ 18, bringing New York’s total attempts from the charity stripe to a stunning 89 in their last two games against the Celtics.

On top of it all, the Celtics were called for traveling seven times, which begs the question:

How can a team walk that much and still be going nowhere?

Rivers, for his part, understands the reality as well as anyone. It is, perhaps, his most endearing quality. Asked about those who called for his firing during the final minutes of last night’s defeat, Rivers chalked it up to “human nature” and noted how “that’s the way it works.” By now, one can only wonder how these Celtics haven’t learned more from their coach.

So far (and to his credit), Celtics vice president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has emphatically stood by his coach. So has Celtics ownership. Now the C’s are slipping again, and the team’s best player has passed on a chance to endorse his coach, which can only make you wonder about the times that lie ahead.

And it makes you wonder, too, whether the captain of the ship is actually trying to lead a mutiny.

11-25-2006, 03:50 PM
Ainge, I think, is a bigger problem for 'em than Pierce or Rivers.

11-25-2006, 11:18 PM
Yeah. Nip the problem in the bud. Nip Ainge.