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Paul Pierce Empathizes with J.O.

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Paul Pierce hangs out with Jermaine O'Neal during their offseasons in Los Angeles. Comments by Pierce in the Boston Globe try to put J.O.'s feelings about his situation into context. See, Pierce was just like J.O. up until a few weeks ago. He was a "superstar" player surrounded by developing talent, just longing to play for a winner. Now, he's surrounded by other "superstar" talent and feels he has a great shot at a championship. Since J.O. was hanging around while all of this went down, it could natuarally make him anxious about the situation with the Pacers.

"Jermaine is just like me," said Pierce. "He wants to be involved with a winner. He's not getting any younger, either, and his miles are piling up. That's rough. I didn't tell him he should go somewhere else, none of that, because he's going to make his own decisions in the end.

"People have got to understand for a ballplayer that's been playing so many years, made a lot of money, it's about winning a championship after so many years. That's the way Jermaine feels. He's felt the same way I've felt for the last couple years. He wants to be on a team that can win a championship.

"I feel for guys like him that are not getting the guys around them so they can at least have a shot at winning championships. He knows what that feels like. He's had a taste of being in the Eastern Conference finals. He knows what it tastes like to be that close, as do I."
Now, I realize Pierce's heart is in the right place with these comments and I appreciate the fact that he didn't overtly demean the Pacers or plead for J.O. to get traded. Still, this whole attitude that 'I'm a superstar player and if only I had better players around me so we could win, too, that would really make my career complete' makes me chuckle. Ummm, if you make max money you shouldn't need two more max-contract superstars to help you win. I'm not saying you can win a title without some additional talent, but you should be able to lead a team to the playoffs. If you can't, then I feel you are still an outstanding NBA player, just not worthy of max contract, superstar status. But that's just me. To be fair, Pierce didn't have a chance to do much last year since he battled injuries and an Oden sniffing tank job which made winning in Boston pretty tough.

And for the record, J.O. was on his way to leading the Pacers on just such a playoff path last year until injuries caught up with him. If J.O. can stay healthy this year, hopefully he'll ignore Pierce's lament and help the Pacers shock the East.