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Tommy Heinsohn on M&M: Paul Pierce ‘just an outstanding guy to be around’

01.27.14 at 1:28 pm ET
By
Tom Heinsohn (AP)

Tom Heinsohn

CSNNE Celtics analyst Tommy Heinsohn talked with Mut & Merloni on Monday about the tributes for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett during Sunday’€™s game at TD Garden. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Heinsohn enjoyed the tributes for Garnett and Pierce, saying it exemplified what they and the team stood for.

“€œLast night with these two great players that brought a championship to Boston exhibited over their careers what the Celtics organization was and has been for many many years; full of spirit, teamwork, and accomplishment,”€ Heinsohn said.

Heinsohn recalled watching how Pierce grew not only as a player but as a person in his time with the Celtics.

“€œI’ve watched him grow as a person, as a player, accept all the challenges that anyone could hope to meet,”€ Heinsohn said. “Take the last shot at games, willingly. Really enjoyed being in that position, and the real tribute to him was when he was named captain and how he went about fulfilling that role. He was a very dedicated guy and worked at his craft all the time. Not just at the basketball end of it, but at the person side of it.”

Added Heinsohn: “He was around all those banners when he first came in, and I coached after the [Bill] Russell era and saw players come in and look up at the banners and the rafters and it became both a blessing and a curse. They feel privileged to play for the Celtics but they also know that they have to live up to the standards, and Paul Pierce certainly did that and recognized what those standards were. Just was an outstanding guy to be around.”

While Garnett was only a Celtic for six years, Heinsohn believes he always had the Celtic attitude and should have his number retired by the organization one day.

“He was totally focused,” Heinsohn said. “When he’€™d come out on the basketball court there was nothing else in his mind but winning a basketball game. And it wasn’t about him, it was about winning. He wasn’t there to score the most points or do anything else, he was there to be the supreme teammate, to excel in what he did best to help win a game and that embodied the Celtics spirit of the teams I played with and coached.”

Added Heinsohn: “€œWhen you see the impact he had on that team, he belongs up there. It was just at a chance that he ended up some place else, because he had the Celtic attitude as soon as he stepped on a basketball court in the NBA.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Celtics news, visit the team page at weei.com/celtics.

On if Ray Allen‘€™s number should be retired by the Celtics: “€œRay was a terrific contributor, he’€™s a great guy. I would like to see his number go up there because he was every bit as important to [the] ’08 championship as the other two. He left here in the difficult circumstance, so I don’€™t know how the public perceives him, but he is as tough a person and as nice a guy as you’€™d ever want to meet.”

More on Allen: “Ray left and he didn’t leave with a happy smile on his face, and so it became a talking issue for all the Celtic fans. When that happened, you took sides. There was umbrage between him and Kevin Garnett, if you remember. Because Kevin is a family-type guy and he felt that Ray got up from the dinner table of the family and left. There’€™s plenty of people in Boston that feel the same way. But I happen to believe that his talent and what he brought to the ball club should be recognized.”

On if a number should be retired for Doc Rivers: “€œWhy not? He withstood the rebuilding of that team, he built the team to where they had to increase the asset value of all the players so that they could make the deal. So he struggled and he did the hard hard work of coaching and losing games, which is what [Brad] Stevens is going through right now and trying to mold together a basketball team. When you go through that and you win the title it’€™s really something. Yeah, he ought to have his number retired. You saw the reception he got when he came back to Boston. People love him and I love him and everybody in the organization over the years loved Doc.”

On how Brad Stevens is doing in his first year: “The outstanding attribute I see that he has is that he’€™s a people person. My first discussions with him was … ‘We’re going to develop a style that fits the abilities of the team of the players that we have, and we’€™re going to try and bring out the best in them and accentuate the positive and, in essence, eliminate the negative.’ I’€™ll tell you, when you see the competitiveness of his team, they’€™re under staffed, and they bring new people up, D-League players, and you see the competitiveness that he gets out of these players, you have to know he’€™s a good coach.”

On if the Celtics will make any deals by the trade deadline: “€œI think anything is possible at this particular stage. When I compare this to a construction project, right now the Celtics are in the phase of digging the hole for the foundation. So they’€™re piling up the materials to go into the foundation. Anything is viable to happen.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett
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