Boston.com – Jackie MacMullan and Paul Pierce discussed the Celtics’ new leadership: After losing on opening night, the Celtics have embarked on an eight-game winning streak. The team appears to have a different “vibe” this season in comparison to the underachievement of last season.
During an episode of ESPN’s “The Jump” on Tuesday, former Celtic Paul Pierce and longtime NBA reporter Jackie MacMullan touched on the difference in the team’s leadership. Specifically, the departure of Kyrie Irving and the arrival of Kemba Walker.
“They got better leadership in there,” Pierce said. “Let’s just call it how it is.”
After ESPN reporter Rachel Nichols — the show’s host — offered a clarification that the leadership was simply “different,” Pierce jumped back in.
“It’s better,” reiterated Pierce. “Kemba, he’s known throughout the league as being a great leader. I mean, he played on losing teams, he stayed positive. He went out and played hard every night, and that can be infectious. That can be the difference between losing and winning and chemistry. That’s what he’s brought to the Celtics.”
If anyone knows the behind the scenes story of the Celtics, its Paul Pierce. The guy is a C’s legend, he’s tight with ownership, he’s someone the young players look up to, and is a media personality so he knows all the broadcasters. The man has an “in” in just about every area stories and rumors would pop up about his former team.
That exchange between Pierce and Rachel Nichols legit made me laugh out loud because Nichols is trying to smooth things over and say no no its not better its just different. To which Pierce channels his inner Stanley in response.
I don’t think its a personal thing because there has never been any story I can recall about Pierce and Kyrie not getting along. Its not like Shaq taking shots at a young Dwight Howard back in the day. This seems to be Pierce the Celtic or Pierce the fan genuinely psyched about how much better this team looks this year. Its quite literally the definition of addition by subtraction. Of course Hayward was playing great before his injury, but Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum were playing more freely, the ball was moving all over the court, and the team just seemed more relaxed. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a mercurial boss who was your best friend one day and a powder keg waiting to explode the next day, but that grinds on you. No wonder the team chemistry was shit last year, no one knew what version of their team leader they were getting, not to mention when they might get chewed out on national TV for missing a shot.
Kyrie was frustrated with Gordon Hayward and Celtics’ last shot 😬 pic.twitter.com/sqnaW8amkq
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 13, 2019
I liked Kyrie when he first got here, and while I don’t necessarily hate him now, I don’t really want him on my team. Over time it became clear that he was basically the best player on your high school team or better yet your college intramural teams. Just a guy that is a complete dickhead to teammates because they aren’t doing exactly what he wants.
Needless to say the Kemba Walker experience is off to a flawless start though.