Former Kansas University basketball standout Paul Pierce has been stealing headlines in the Big Apple this summer.
Pierce, who played the first 15 years of his NBA career with the Boston Celtics before being traded to the Brooklyn Nets this offseason, told ESPN New York radio 98.7 his dislike for the Knicks “has grown to another level. I think it’s time for the Nets to start running this city.”
Later, Pierce told “Complex Magazine” that the Nets, who also added Boston’s Kevin Garnett, will soon emerge as the most popular team in New York.
“Oh yeah. Right now it might be like 70-30, but we’re gonna push that the other way,” Pierce told the magazine.
The Knicks’ J.R. Smith responded to ESPN New York, saying, “I just look at him as a bitter person just getting out of Boston. He doesn’t really know what New York is all about. He’s been playing in Boston his whole career. He just knows, just know that his words have consequences, and he’s going to have to pay for them.”
Knicks point guard Ray Felton also spoke to ESPN New York about Pierce’s statements.
“They will never take over the city. Because we’ve got ‘New York’ on our chest,” Felton said. “They’ve got ‘Brooklyn’ on their chest, and we’ve got ‘New York.’ They’ll never take over the city. (Pierce) saying that is just him talking. At the end of the day, it’s all about rivalries. We understand that — he knows that, I know that. He’s just trying to fuel it.”
Pierce, by the way, told ESPN New York he will not accompany the team to an Oct. 23 Nets-Celtics preseason game in Boston. He will play in the one regular season game in Boston on Jan. 26.
“You just want to get it out of the way. When you gotta go through something tough, I’ve always been a guy that just wants to get it out of the way. It’s gonna be in the back of my mind,” Pierce said. “I’ll do it just one time next year.”