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February 05, 2003

Outtakes with Paul Pierce

Dan Patrick passes the frippin' ball with Paul Pierce

UNCUT OUTTAKES: A condensed version of Dan Patrick's interview with Boston Celtics guard Paul Pierce appears in the Dec. 9 edition of ESPN The Magazine

Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce would have really celebrated had the Lakers drafted him.
Dan Patrick: If you weren't such a good interview last time I had you on ESPN Radio, I wouldn't have suggested you for the magazine.
Paul Pierce: That's cool.
DP: OK, tell me something surprising about [Kansas coach] Roy Williams [Pierce played at Kansas].
PP: I don't know if it's surprising, but ... do you know his favorite word?
DP: No.
PP: It's frippin'.
DP: Frippin'?
PP: Yes, his favorite word is frippin'. You know, he's a coach, and he yells. You know he's going to let out the extreme yell -- but he doesn't curse, and so he'll say pass the frippin' ball. That's one thing about him. When you see him on TV, you think he's one of those fiery coaches who curses at you and stuff. But he doesn't curse, and so he uses this word called frippin'.
DP: Did you guys used to laugh when he said it?
PP: No, nobody laughed, but after practice we'd talk about it all the time.
DP: Do you use the word frippin'?
PP: No, I don't use it.
DP: I didn't think so.

DP: Do you think the rest of the players in the league still buy into that Celtic mystique?
PP: I don't know. Probably, since we got back to the playoffs last season. I don't see how they couldn't, because ... when you come in here and you see the former players and you see the banners up still -- it's like a presence, and you still think about it. And then you think about ... the ghosts running through Boston Garden.
DP: There are no ghosts in the Garden.
PP: But the mystique has to be something players really still think about.

DP: When you were growing up in California, you were probably more of a Laker fan PP: I was.
DP: So was it hard going to Boston? Did your friends give you grief?
PP: Man, that was the hardest thing, because we hated the Celtics. My friends said, "I don't how we're going to cheer for you, man. You're a Celtic now -- you know, I don't like the team but I like you."
DP: And you probably didn't think you looked good in green.
PP: No, but my high-school color was green.
DP: Oh, OK.
PP: Green was cool, but it was just the simple fact of going to the Boston Celtics. That's the only team back then that we feared as Laker fans, and for me to get drafted by them, man, it was crazy. It was ironic, man.
DP: So you were a Magic Johnson fan and probably didn't like Larry Bird.
PP: Didn't like Larry Bird, McHale, none of them guys. I hated the uniforms, I hated everything about them.
DP: Those black shoes.
PP: Yes.

DP: At the draft, you must have been pissed at everybody that passed you. So were you grateful that the Celtics took you when they took you?
PP: Oh, definitely. But still, as a Laker fan, I was thinking, "Oh man, I hope the Celtics don't take me."
DP: So you rooted for the Celtics not to take you just because you didn't want to play for them.
PP: See, it was that, plus I heard about Rick Pitino.
DP: Oh.
PP: It was a combination of the two. So I was like, "No, don't pick me, don't pick me." And then they picked me. I'm thinking, "Oh, man, the Celtics, Rick Pitino ... oh, this is bad right here. This is bad."
DP: Do you still hold it against those other teams that didn't take you, when you face them?
PP: I'm pretty much past that now. I think other teams realize it now. Let's see, of the top five teams that drafted that year, I don't think any of the head coaches are there anymore. So they made mistakes and they're paying for it ... they don't have jobs anymore.

DP: You talk about the Lakers-Celtics rivalry that you grew up with. Who's the Celtics rivalry with now?
PP: I think it's going to have to be with New Jersey, man. Just for the simple fact that both teams were planning to go to the NBA Finals [last season]. They beat us, so it's a little bit of bad blood there. We always hated Philadelphia, so we feel like that's a rival every time we play them. So I'm going to say those two teams right now, if you look just at teams in the East. But if we ever get to the championship and play the Lakers, that's always going to be one of the greatest rivalries.

DP: What about personal rivalries?
PP:That's a tough one man, there are so many.
DP: Yes, but there's got to be somebody where you say, I'm going to circle that game on the calendar. I can't wait for that one. Whether you don't like the guy or it's just the ultimate challenge.
PP: I'd have to say Kobe Bryant. I feel that he's the top player at his position. ... He has three rings, I don't, and every time we play the Lakers I'm gunning for him.
DP: But is he better than you?
PP: I don't think so.
DP: It must be hard to allow your ego to say or admit that someone else is better than you.
PP: Maybe two or three years ago, I probably would have admitted that. But I really don't think so. I mean, all players are unique in their own way. But he does have those three rings. You know, if I've got three rings, then who's going to be seen as being better?

DP: Do you know Stockton is old enough to be your dad?
PP: John Stockton?
DP: Yes.
PP: How old is he? Oh, he's 40 now.
DP: Isn't that amazing?
PP: Yes, Karl Malone is 40 too, right?
DP: No, Malone's a year younger. And Michael Jordan is turning 40 in February.
PP: Hey, I'm glad I get to play against him now, you know?
DP: Is it a little strange when you play against him now but you know what he used to be?
PP: Yes.
DP: He's a different player now. Is it like when Larry Holmes was beating up Muhammad Ali, that you don't want to? I mean, Jordan is a guy you probably looked at as an idol.
PP: Yes.
DP: So do you still want to dunk on him?
PP: Oh yes, definitely ... but you still can't erase that I think he's the greatest player of all time.
DP: But you would dunk on an old man.
PP: Oh, yes. Without a doubt. Hey, he wanted to come back to the game, right?
DP: Yes, all right.
PP: That's just like ... say you've got nine guys on the court and one woman and you take it easy on her. I mean, if she wants to be out there, you've got to give her the same treatment.
DP: So you would have no problem lighting Jordan up for 40.
PP: No, no problem. Hey man, this is our time to give back to him what he did to us five, six, seven years ago.

DP: You've already said that you had problems wearing that Celtic uniform just because it was the Celtics. Is there another uniform in the league that you look at and you say, that's just not me -- I could never wear that.
PP: I'd say Toronto, with that purple and blue. I don't get that.
DP: That's kind of like that Barney character for kids.
PP: And I could never wear a Philadelphia jersey.
DP: Just because it's Philadelphia.
PP: Just because it's Philadelphia, and I don't care what it looked like. And what's the third one? Oh, I hate Milwaukee's jersey.
DP: Is it because they're the Bucks or you just don't like the way the jersey looks?
PP: A little bit of both.
DP: Why is there anger against the Bucks?
PP: Well, they had a chance to draft me.
DP: Here we go again. They didn't pick you, so you hate the Bucks.
PP: Right. I have a dislike for them.
DP: The Cavaliers are bringing back their old jerseys.
PP: Oh no, those are nasty. DP: So you have a bad team and you have bad jerseys.

DP: Did you watch the movie "Barbershop"?
PP: Yes.
DP: Were you offended by it?
PP: What do you mean?
DP: Well, because there's Cedric the Entertainer, who's making comments about Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks -- and Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson were all upset. I asked some of the black guys here at ESPN if they were bothered by that, and they said, no, it's a movie, it's funny.
PP: Yes.
DP: I was just curious if you saw it the way they saw it. Or, when they start taking down heroes, do you say, whoa, wait a minute -- you can't say that about Martin Luther King.
PP: Oh, that's just comedy, man -- that's how I looked at it.
DP: Would you let Cedric the Entertainer cut your hair?
PP: I'd never let him cut my hair. I actually know Cedric.
DP: He's a funny dude.
PP: He is hilarious.

DP: Who's your favorite actor?
PP: I like Samuel Jackson ... he can play all the roles.
DP: Favorite movie?
PP: Let's see ... "Pulp Fiction."
DP: It doesn't have to have Sam Jackson in it.
PP: Well, Pulp Fiction is my favorite movie of all time.
DP: Do you quote anything from "Pulp Fiction"?
PP: I know a couple quotes, but I'm not going to use them.
DP: If you're around friends, do you quote movie lines? PP: No, that's Tony Battie. He does that.

DP: Last concert you went to?
PP: The last concert I went to was, wow, it's been awhile since I've been to a concert. I went to a Jay-Z concert a couple years ago.
DP: That's the last time you went to a show?
PP: A concert, yes. I don't go to concerts much.
DP: Wow.
PP: But I would go to see some old-school performers.
DP: Like who? Are you talking about Prince or...? PP: Yes, I would see him.
DP: He's Prince now. He was the symbol, but now he's Prince again, right? How about Michael Jackson?
PP: Yes, I would see Mike. Sure. One of the greatest all time? Yes, I would see him.
DP: You wouldn't let him watch your kids, but...
PP: No, no, no. I wouldn't let him watch the kids but I'd go just to say I went and saw him.

DP: Second-best sport.
PP: Tennis.
DP: What professional tennis player has your type of game?
PP: I'm sort of like a mix between Agassi and Sampras.
DP: Why is that?
PP: And a Michael Chang.
DP: Yes?
PP: I've got a pretty good serve. I've got a nice floor game like Agassi. And I've got quickness too, so I can rush the net like Sampras.
DP: Have you played against any of those guys?
PP: No, I never have.
DP: Do you think you could beat Venus Williams?
PP: Oh, no. I think she could beat some of the guys on tour. We were talking about this over the summer. We were watching her and her sister. I think she could beat some of the guys.

DP: Do you have a problem with how Terrell Owens celebrated that touchdown on Monday Night Football, signing the football with the Sharpie pen?
PP: Man, I think that's funny. Terrell Owens is a showman.
DP: But what if you were playing against him?
PP: I would be insulted.
DP: OK. Kobe dunks on you, gets fouled, and before he goes to the line for the three-point play, he signs the basketball and hands it to a fan.
PP: Oh, we might have to fight, man.
DP: So are you surprised that the Seattle Seahawks didn't do anything to Terrell?
PP: I'm surprised at that, man. That's insulting.
DP: But you thought it was funny, too.
PP: Yes, I thought it was funny -- as long as it's not against me.

Paul Pierce
Why does Paul Pierce have the No. 34? Well, in high school, the jersey fit.
DP: Give me your all-time international NBA team.
DP: Drazen Petrovic and Sarunas Marciulionis at guard.
DP: Oh, you went old-school with your backcourt.
PP: Yes, my backcourt is old-school. And then I'll put Dirk Nowitzki at the three -- no, I'll put him at the four. At the five I'll put Vlade Divac. And let's see, at the three ... it's a toss-up because Toni Kukoc was tough, but I guess I'll go with Stojakovic. ... But I don't want these current guys to feel like they've got confidence when they play me.
DP: What, that you're recognizing their game?
PP: Yes, that I'm recognizing their game like that.

DP: Do you talk much on the floor?
PP: Uh, sometimes. I'm like this: If you start talking to me, then I'm going to really start talking.
DP: What about with Gary Payton?
PP: We always get into it.
DP: But you're not head-up with him. Usually you have a two or a three guarding you, not a point guard.
PP: Yes, but sometimes I'll guard him.
DP: And you'll talk?
PP: Yes. Sometimes we'll start talking, and then next thing you know we're guarding each other.

DP: If you could go on tour with any musician, who would it be?
PP: Man, oh man. That's a tough one ... I'd go on tour with Beyoncé Knowles or Jennifer Lopez. One of them. It's a toss-up.
DP: Beyoncé has the lower body of some NBA players.
PP: She's got the thick legs.
DP: Yes, she's got some big thighs on her.And when she gets down on the blocks, I don't think you're moving her out of there, you know? And J-Lo's the same way...
PP: Man...
DP: I mean, J-Lo could back you down if you were allowed to dribble the ball the way Mark Jackson used to, just back you down. J-Lo would be able to score at will.
PP: Hey, she could score on me.

DP: Worst job you ever had?
PP: When I first got to Kansas, I had to watch the cars and pick up golfers' golf bags. That only lasted three days. My freshman year in college.
DP: So that was a job the school set up for you?
PP: It wasn't the school golf course, it was just a golf course. I watched the cars as they drove up, picked up the guy's golf bags, and then brought them down to the shop and got them ready to go out. But I wasn't really making any tips man, and I was like, I'm done with this. Three days, I was done.
DP: You never worked in a fast-food restaurant?
PP: No.
DP: You never worked at McDonald's?
PP: I was too tall, man ... I'd have been the tallest one up front with the little hat. No, I couldn't. ... I wanted to work at a gas station while I was at high school, or fix old cars, because I was good at that.
DP: What kind of car do you want to get now that you don't have? Do you like classic cars?
PP: I love classic cars ... I have a '61 Chevy Impala.
DP: Oh, so you do some hopping with it?
PP: Yeah. I've got some hydraulics. Hey man, I live on the West Coast.

DP: Why can't Kansas win the NCAA title?
PP: Man, it's just bad luck.
DP: Oh, that's what it is?
PP: It's just bad luck, man. You have to have good luck to win ... you know how the tournament is.
DP: Yes. PP: I think that's going to turn around, though.

DP: Do you ever get concerned about what Charles Barkley says?
PP: Man, I never get concerned about what Barkley says. Barkley, he's going to talk, you know, because people want to hear what he got to say, but on the flip side, he really don't mean it.
DP: You think he's just doing it just to talk.
PP: Yes, he's just talking. You know how Barkley is.
DP: Has he ever criticized you?
PP: Oh, he probably has.
DP: You don't sound too concerned.
PP: No ... I like Barkley, man. He can make you laugh. He's a comedian.
DP: Was he one of your basketball heroes growing up?
PP: My brother was a huge Charles Barkley fan -- my brother went to Miami. He played power forward, and he always used to tell me stories about Barkley and college. And I watched Barkley growing up. I loved what he brought to the game. His toughness and just his attitude, being as strong he was.

DP: After you guys lost the World Championship games, did your friends out of respect not say anything to you? Or did they give you grief because you lost?
PP: Some of my friends said something, but a lot of them didn't out of respect, I guess because they knew how I felt ... I didn't even want to show my face for a few weeks, man.
DP: Does it say more about the rest of the world or more about us that we lost that tournament?
PP: It's hard for me to really tell, because I really don't want to make excuses. But we shouldn't have lost three games. ... I really don't know, Dan.
DP: You still haven't come to grips with it?
PP: I still haven't, man.
DP: These other teams are together all the time and they cared more, and you guys were just thrown together and then you're supposed to play as a team.
PP: But they've done it before, you know what I'm saying? They've done it. We can't make that excuse, because that's what they do. They throw the teams together, and the U.S. still goes out and wins, right?
DP: Yes.
PP: So that can't be an excuse.

DP: What is Rock-Chalk-Jayhawk?
PP: You know what, I still don't know to this day. I think just because it rhymes...
DP: Yes.
PP: ...they put that in there. Then they turned it into a chant. You know, our chant.
DP: Did you have to do a lot of explaining when you went back home to California?
PP: People still ask me, to this day, how'd I get to Kansas.
DP: Did your friends think, like, the Wizard of Oz and Dorothy with Kansas? What else is in Kansas?
PP: Not much. But I just wanted to get away from home, and I really didn't want to go back East. I thought that was a little too far, so I figured I'd go to the best school halfway there.
DP: Were you recruited by UCLA or other West Coast schools?
PP: Oh yes, I was recruited by all those teams, the Pac-10 teams, Big West, all those schools.
DP: But you needed to get away from home?
PP: I felt like I needed to get away from home -- I was turning into a mama's boy, man, because both my brothers were older and so they were out of the house. When I was in junior high school, they were already in college, and so it was just me and my mom. So I felt like a lot of times my mom babied me, you know, because I was the youngest. ... So I was like, man, I need to get away. I need to get away and grow up and be on my own.
DP: See, most guys would just say, I'll just hang here with mom because she's taking care of me.
PP: Yeah, but see, I'm one of those kids who felt like I could do everything by myself, and I didn't need help from anybody -- and so I used to get mad when my mom would try to help me with everything. And I was like, I need to get away, I need to start growing up on my own.

DP: Free association. Whatever comes to mind ... 3-point shot.
PP: Probably Reggie Miller.
DP: David Stern. What comes to mind?
PP: Oh, man ... you're going to get me in trouble.
DP: Why? You don't get along with the commissioner?
PP: I think he's done a great job with the league.
DP: OK. Mark Cuban.
PP: Oh, I love that dude.
DP: Do you?
PP: Oh, yeah. I think he's great for the league.
DP: You wouldn't have a problem playing for him?
PP: No, I think he's a great owner.
DP: I do too. But people are always down on him. OK ... tattoos.
PP: I like tattoos ... I'm going to have to say Iverson.
DP: Do you find yourself staring at tattoos during games?
PP: Sometimes you look at them. You want to see what some of them say.
DP: I still look at Cherokee Parks and I say...
PP: Oh, man, those are terrible.
DP: That's what happens when you have all that spare time when you sit on the bench.
PP: Those are terrible, man -- those are the worst ever.
DP: Could you get a tattoo?
PP: I could. I was thinking about it.
DP: What would you get?
PP: I don't know yet.
DP: But you'd have to pass it by your mom, won't you?
PP: I don't think so.
DP: You don't? PP: No. I would probably get it and then tell her.

DP: What's your guilty pleasure, as far as a TV show?
PP: I love "The Sopranos" -- but I'm not guilty about it.
DP: Who would Tony be in the NBA?
PP: Probably Shaq.

DP: Do you have a favorite alias that you've used on the road?
PP: Roy Hobbs. Since I beat everybody in pool and tennis and softball, the guys were like, "Man, you're a natural." I practiced nothing. It just came naturally.
DP: Are you the best athlete on the team?
PP: I am. Yep.
DP: And you're the most humble one on the team too, aren't you?
PP: Yes. I'm the best athlete and most humble.

DP: If Shaq's toe is healthy, will Lakers win again?
PP: Hmmm. No, I don't think they can win four in a row.
DP: So you're guaranteeing they won't win four in a row?
PP: I don't want to guarantee it, because I don't want to make the big fellow mad in case we see them in the championship. But I don't think they can win four in a row.
DP: Who haven't you dunked on that you would like to.
PP: I would like to get Shaq, man ... because I don't know anybody who's ever dunked on him.
DP: And lived to tell about it?
PP: Maybe Alonzo, once or twice.
DP: You've got to be quicker than him.
PP: Yes.
DP: You know, you're not going to dunk over him.

DP: Who picked your number (34)?
PP: I did. Actually, I picked it in high school -- it was the biggest jersey I could find at the time, when it was my turn to pick.
DP: So you just kept that number ... does it have any special significance to you now?
PP: This is going to be the number, hopefully, that I can retire with.
DP: You couldn't go with 32 because of Magic or 33 because of Kareem?
PP: Actually, I wore 32 in junior high, and then when I got to high school, that jersey number was too small for me. So it was one of two jerseys, 34 or, like, 40. And I went with 34.
DP: Oh. I wondered if it had any significance, because the two numbers add up to seven. PP: Uh, no.

DP: Are you a baseball fan?
PP: Yes, I love baseball. I [wanted] San Francisco to win the World Series.
DP: Why, because you're a Bonds fan?
PP: Well, I always liked San Francisco. Back in '90 my brother got drafted by San Francisco.
DP: And that's when you started liking them?
PP: Yes.
DP: But he didn't make it with them, so do you still like them?
PP: I mean, I liked them ... I liked Will Clark and Bonds. I always liked them.
DP: I figured you'd be a Dodger fan.
PP: I hate the Dodgers, man.
DP: Why?
PP: I don't know. I just don't like them. Maybe it's their uniforms.
DP: Too clean?
PP: I don't know. I just never really liked the Dodgers. ... I was mad when they won that World Series.
DP: With Kirk Gibson in '88?
PP: Yes.

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