After Adrian Wojnarowski said recently that Paul Pierce’s last game in Boston made a strong impression on Clippers teammate (and impending free agent) Blake Griffin, CelticsBlog spoke with a number of free agents who said that they view Boston as a very attractive destination.
The players spoke of the team’s history and the atmosphere at TD Garden when discussing why the Celtics would be a tempting suitor.
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Of course, free agents would have incentive to speak glowingly of each and every team, as publicly ruling out a team -- even one for which they wouldn’t want to play -- could cost them money.
Still, the quotes are interesting, especially given that it comes after the team made an unusually significant splash a year ago by getting Al Horford to sign. From the anonymous players:
‘Prominent’ Western Conference free agent
- “I only get to play there once a year, but you can feel it. The fans are crazy. Even when they were bad, those fans were there. When we were bad, our building was silent. And we all saw the way they sent off Paul. It was amazing. Cheering an opposing player like that doesn’t happen anywhere else.”
- “The history, the fans, Brad, the talent, the picks coming, yeah you have to factor it in. But the fans do matter. I remember talking to Paul once and he said ‘I understood why I had to leave, but I never wanted to. But Danny always does what is best for the team. And the fans love that. And they’ve never shown me, KG and the other guys anything but love.’ So, yeah that stuff matters for sure. We’re human. We want to be appreciated. And that place made (Brian) Scalabrine an all-time legend. So it does matter when you make a choice on where to play. Big time.”
‘Prominent’ Eastern Conference free agent
- “No one wants to play in a place where the fans don’t care. We all know Boston fans can be critical, but that is cool. They expect to win. As a player, you want that pressure. And KG, Paul, all those guys, they tell you that if you win in Boston you become a legend. Everyone wants to be a legend.”
Veteran free agent 1
- “The Paul salute was incredible. That happens sometimes, but you would think Boston would be spoiled. They win all the time in every sport and have retired almost every number. But they still love their guys. I had tears in my eyes watching that. And it went on all game long, not just at intros and at the end. They blew up like it was a title-winning shot when he hit that three. Like I said, tears man. Something you don’t see anywhere else.”
Veteran free agent 2
- “It wasn’t just the sendoff for the Truth. Those fans were chanting like crazy at the end of Game 5 when the team was getting killed by Cleveland. There are other great fans, but none are better than Boston. And that matters. I remember playing them in the playoffs when they had Paul, KG and Ray and we had to scream during huddles to hear each other. That is during huddles when the crowd usually quiets down. As a player, you can use that lift. Those fans matter.”