L.A. Clippers forward Paul Pierce announced Monday via The Players’ Tribune that he will return for his 19th season, then retire.
“This is it, my final season,” Pierce said. “It’s time to move on from the game of basketball. Just like any difficult decision, I think you’ve got to be at peace with yourself. I’m at peace with retiring, but I’ve got one more ride left. One more season. One more opportunity.”
Pierce, who turns 39 in October, said he felt uncertainty about coming back for 2016-17 because of the grind of another NBA offseason. But upon contemplating the Clippers’ first-round playoff loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, he said unfinished business pulled him back to Los Angeles for another title run.
“I think why not give it one more shot, especially the way we went out of the playoffs, the injuries,” Pierce said at Clippers media day Monday. “Obviously, you’ve got to be good, you’ve got to be lucky, but I just want to just give it one more shot.
“Like I said, to win a championship here for the Los Angeles Clippers would be monumental, and if I can be a part of that, that’s something I thought about, and that’s something that drove me from August, starting in August on.”
Clippers coach Doc Rivers addressed Pierce’s decision to make this season his last as an NBA player.
“Paul has meant a lot to me, obviously,” said Rivers, who won an NBA title with Pierce in Boston in 2008. “When you win a title with someone, just like him and KG [Kevin Garnett] and the whole group, you’re connected with that person, those people for the rest of your lives, and you should be.”
In many ways, Erving was the original athlete-businessman for NBA players. His first deal with Converse was worth an unprecedented $20,000. Erving was also part of the first licensed video game “Dr. J vs Larry Bird,” which was released by Electronic Arts in 1983. As part of his endorsement, Erving took the option to purchase 20,000 shares of the company at $1 a share. He held on to it, which was eventually worth millions. He also was an investor in a Philadelphia-based Coca-Cola bottling plant for more than 20 years.
Erving, considered the father of the slam dunk, played for five years in the ABA with the Virginia Squires and the New York Nets before the merger with the NBA. He then played more than a decade with the Philadelphia 76ers, leading them to a title in 1983. Erving, whose number is retired by both the 76ers and the Nets, was inducted into the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993.
Earlier this month, Rivers said Pierce was on the fence about returning for another season but that he believed Pierce has something left in the tank.
Pierce played the first 15 seasons of his career in Boston, nine of them for Rivers.
Rivers recruited Pierce to Los Angeles last season as a veteran presence with knowledge of how to win an NBA championship, hoping he would be the final piece to push the Clippers over the top. But injuries to All-Stars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul led to a first-round postseason exit.