Former Kentucky Wildcat and NBA champ Antoine Walker talked about his Celtics teammate and Kansas basketball great Paul Pierce recently on The Players’ Tribune podcast.
There no doubt in anyone’s mind that Paul Pierce is one of Kansas basketball’s greatest members. Pierce had an incredible college career under Roy Williams, leading the Jayhawks to three conference titles in a row and averaging 20.4 points per game in his senior season.
Walker, who won a title with Kentucky in 1996 and was playing with the Boston Celtics, began by talking about when Pierce came into the league. Pierce was already highly motivated by falling to No. 10 overall in the draft after being projected as a higher pick. Walker described Pierce’s mentality and swagger as intense, and Walker finally knew he had a teammate that he could rely on.
Before drafting Pierce, the Celtics were in a bit of a rut, not having made the playoffs in a few seasons. By 2000 though, Walker described Pierce’s mentality as fearless, saying that he’d demand to guard the best player on the other team and that his work ethic was incredible.
Walker continued by talking about his personal relationship with Pierce, which would often get heated, and then be back to normal the next day. The two never held grudges despite going at each other on the court and pushing one another. That’s what made their relationship special, said Walker.
Based on Walker’s stories, it sounds like the two stars respected and pushed each other to be better while leaving feelings and sensitivity at the door. In 2003, Walker went from the Celtics to the Dallas Mavericks in a trade that included Kansas basketball’s Raef LaFrentz, who was a teammate of Pierce in college.
Even though there are just a few minutes of audio about Pierce, it’s some really interesting stuff that gives Kansas basketball fans an idea of his mindset, which explains his success in the NBA and when he was a star at Kansas.