BOSTON — Well, here we are, just one day away from the most anticipated NBA Finals in years. And it’s not just from the fan’s perspective. Even the players admit they may be just a little more juiced than normal. Paul Pierce likened himself to a little kid. Kevin Garnett said his adrenaline is pumping and he’s not even going to try to calm himself down.
Here are some sound bites from today’s interviews:
Garnett on how things have changed in a year:
A year ago at this time I was on vacation thinking about what I needed to do to better my basketball career. Wasn’t thinking about the playoffs. Wasn’t thinking about the Finals. Just thinking about bettering my basketball career and ‘What do I have to do for myself?’ That’s pretty much it.
Garnett on ensuring he doesn’t get too excited:
You don’t. One of the things I’m trying to figure out is — just in my experience with The Garden, man, it’s like my first game. We played Washington here, I hit [the] Jerry West [logo] my first shot. And I’ve learned since then not to fight it. Just let it sort of ooze its way out and play. … I’m just going to let it flow, try to center myself as best as I can, but at the same time, let the adrenaline, let it run and try not to get too tired too soon. Doc has something for that. It’s called ‘Come sit next to me.’ So, believe me. If i get too tired, I’m sure he’ll sit me. I’m not worried about that. It’s time to let it all out.
Paul Pierce on his frame of mind a year ago:
I don’t think I was thinking, ‘I’ll never make it to the NBA Finals.’ I think I probably thought a year ago that I’d never make it to the NBA Finals with the Celtics, just based on what we did a year ago, draft status, where I was at in my career, just a whole lot of things. It just didn’t feel like I would be a Celtic next season. It was tough times, it was going through tough seasons and I got to a point where I didn’t know if I wanted to come back. But boy, how quickly things change.
I can’t even describe the feeling of just being here. I don’t even know. I probably don’t even understand the magnitude of it right now. I’m just like a kid playing basketball, doing something I love, and enjoying the moment.
Kobe Bryant on being part of the Lakers-Celtics tradition:
It’s always a part of it because it’s such a rich tradition. I think when you look at the jerseys that hang in the rafters at Staples Center, and with Celtics as well, they’re not only great Lakers players, but they’re some of the greatest players to ever play. So that’s a great deal to live up to.
Kobe and Pierce both talked about a time they got together last summer to play some pickup games at UCLA. Both thought they were headed for new teams and they even placed bets on who would be traded first.
Neither player got their wish, obviously. But looking back, Kobe said this is the one battle he is glad he didn’t win.