Paul Pierce Talks Wizards Social Media Use in Locker Room | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Paul Pierce Talks Wizards Social Media Use in Locker Room

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Updated: December 28, 2017

Paul Pierce only played one season in Washington but he quickly established himself as an all-time Wizards fan favorite. Since leaving, he has spoken kindly of Otto Porter and Bradley Beal and is generally complimentary when discussing the team.

However, while filming an Uber sponsored interview segment with Cari Champion (video below at 1:36 mark), Pierce dropped an interesting nugget that paints the Wizards’ locker room in a not-so-positive light.

The segment involves Champion asking Pierce to rate various NBA players and teams using Uber’s 5-star scale. Champion asks Pierce to rate today’s players in the NBA:

“I give the NBA players a ‘3’ just based on the fact that they don’t want to practice every day no more. They don’t want to show up for the games every day anymore. Everybody is more concerned about their brand.”

Then, Pierce leans in and gives a specific example from his time in Washington to prove his point that players are too focused on outside noise:

“I remember I was on the Washington Wizards a few years ago. I just remember going in at halftime and I’m looking at everybody on their phone and I’m like ‘What is everybody doing on their phone? We supposed to be locking in to the game.’ And I’m finding out everybody is on Instagram, everybody is on Twitter. Everybody is finding out what people are saying about them for the first half. I’m like ‘Man, if you all don’t put them phones up man, I’m going to go hell wire on y’all.’”

To be fair, Pierce was not singling out Wizards players for being too consumed with their brand. He couched it as a league-wide problem and, presumably, the same social media obsession is present in other locker rooms. Nevertheless, the example he chose was from his time in Washington and it was not a particularly flattering one.

Pierce’s comments were reminiscent of his interview with ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan in April 2015 before his first playoff series with the Wizards when he challenged Wall and Beal:

“I keep telling Wall and Beal, ‘You’ve got to make up your mind. Do you want to be good, or do you want to be great? Because if you want to be great, you gotta do it every single night, not just when you feel like it.’ … Both of those guys have the potential to be great. I love them. But sometimes I’m not sure they realize what it takes.”

Listening to Pierce’s comments to Champion and re-reading his interview with MacMullan, it makes you wonder whether this team could still use a veteran voice in the locker room, especially since Washington’s biggest problem is one that a respected veteran could help solve — showing up every day with consistent energy.

It has been two and a half years since Pierce’s comments to MacMullan but if the last two games (versus Boston and Atlanta) have taught us anything, it’s that the Wizards’ inconsistency remains in full force.

Brooks has answered questions about the Wizards’ inconsistent defensive energy all season. After Washington’s signature win over the Celtics on Christmas Day, Brooks praised the team:

“Everybody was locked in during timeouts, so whatever they did before the game we need to keep doing it. It’s obviously a special environment to be playing — Christmas Day — but you have to do this for 82 games and not let the ups and downs of a long season control your emotions or your energy.”

Seventy-two hours later, after an inexplicable loss to the 8-25 Atlanta Hawks, Brooks sang a different tune:

“It’s unacceptable. I take the blame as much as the players take it. We all are responsible for this and we got to do a better job of playing and competing and staying focused throughout the 48 minutes.”

The players sound like they are out of answers. Every post-game interview after a loss sounds the same with complaints about playing down to competition, lacking energy, taking opponents for granted, etc. As Candace Buckner reported, after the Hawks loss, Beal added a new complaint (or at least publicly aired a behind-the-scenes complaint for the first time): selfish play. John Wall echoed his sentiments:

“We talk about it. We say when we play these teams that are not above .500 or not one of the great teams, we go out there playing for stats. It’s simple as that. We can see it. I think we all can see it when we play.”

Whatever the actual reason for Washington’s uninspired play, it seems possible — if not likely — that the current voices in the locker room are not capable of solving the problem. After all, those voices have been chirping for several years now to no avail.

Paul Pierce once famously said that he might need to punch Otto Porter to get him to play with the anger needed to reach his potential. The same could be said of this entire 2017-18 Wizards team.

Scott Brooks is not the type of coach who will deliver a forceful blow (either verbal or physical). It might be time for Ernie Grunfeld to start scouring the NBA landscape for a veteran who is not afraid to speak some hard truth.

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Adam Rubin
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Adam grew up in the D.C. area and has been a Washington Bullets fan for over 25 years. He will not refer to the franchise as anything other than the Bullets unless required to do so by Truth About It editorial standards. Adam spent many nights at the Capital Centre in the ‘90s where he witnessed such things as Michael Jordan’s “LaBradford Smith game,” the inexcusable under-usage of Gheorghe Muresan’s unstoppable post moves, and the basketball stylings of Ledell Eackles.