Paul Pierce departs league with 'no regrets'
Los Angeles (AFP) – Paul Pierce said he departs the NBA with “no regrets” despite the bitter disappointment of the Los Angeles Clippers first-round playoff loss to the Utah Jazz.
“I really enjoyed myself with this group this year. Regardless of what happened today with the basketball, I’m happy,” he said.
“What I’ve been able to accomplish, what I’ve been able to do with my career, I gave every ounce I could. I have no regrets.”
After the retirements of Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan, the NBA is bidding farewell to another star of the 2000s in Pierce.
The 39-year-old won a title with the Boston Celtics in 2008 and competed for another in the NBA Finals.
But his bid to recapture that magic with former Celtics coach Doc Rivers in Los Angeles — where he signed with the Clippers as a free agent prior to the 2015 season — didn’t pan out.
But he was hailed by his peers as one of the greats.
“Paul Pierce is ‘The Truth'” Bryant told The Players’ Tribune website — a nod to Pierce’s nickname.
A video tribute on the website featured Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Oscar Robertson and an emotional Kevin Garnett, Pierce’s teammate in Boston and Brooklyn, among others.
Pierce later tweeted his thanks.
“Thanku to all my NBA brothers and sisters associated with the game a game Ive loved my whole life but now ready for a new chapter stay tuned,” he posted on the social media site.
Pierce leaves the game with 26,397 career points, the 15th-most on the league’s all-time scoring list.
On Sunday he played 22 minutes, scoring six points and pulling down three rebounds.
He left the court waving to fans in his hometown, where his time with the Clippers at last let him play regularly in front of family members, including his mother, Lorraine.
“It’s tough if you come up short of your goals,” Pierce said. “Every year you set a goal to be champions and it’s a tough pill to swallow every year.”
“I’ve been in the league 19 years and had to swallow 18 tough pills.”
Preparing to leave Staples Center on Sunday, Pierce indicated the magnitude of retirement had not fully sunk in.
With his departure, Dirk Nowitzki and Vince Carter are the only members of the 1998 NBA draft class still playing.
Perhaps when next season is approaching, and he isn’t trying to gear himself up for another long campaign, he will understand what retirement means, he said.
“Maybe in those months, when I get up and I don’t have to practice, it’ll hit me more,” he said.
When it does, he does not expect to have any second thoughts about the decision to depart.
“I enjoyed this ride,” Pierce said.