WASHINGTON — Speaking to the media at Air Canada Centre on Sunday, Toronto Raptors guard Greivis Vasquez was asked about Paul Pierce, whose 20 points helped the Washington Wizards steal Game 1 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series on the road, 93-86, one day earlier.
Beloved in College Park after four memorable seasons playing for the Maryland men's basketball team, Vasquez ranted about the likely future Hall of Famer, who was booed throughout Game 1 for comments suggesting that the Raptors didn't have the fortitude to handle the playoffs.
"I tell you this: This is the last thing I'm going to answer about Paul Pierce. Paul Pierce is a Hall of Famer that knows what he's doing. I give him a lot of credit. He got you guys' attention. He's got everybody's attention, and if we keep talking about Paul Pierce, this is going to be [the] Paul Pierce series. It's not going to be the Wizards, just Paul Pierce.
"But what he's doing is motivating his team, talking trash. Why would we talk trash? We don't have any trash talkers in our locker room. So he does what he does. We respect that. We give him a lot of credit. … That's the reason that he's 'The Truth.' He's 'The Truth' for a reason. What else can I tell you?"
Well, Vasquez did have more to say about Pierce. Turns out the only player in Atlantic Coast Conference history with 2,000 points, 700 assists and 600 rebounds has been a fan of Pierce for years.
"I got a picture of him, too," Vasquez said. "He's an idol. That's it. We just got to play. Paul Pierce is going to be Paul Pierce. You guys need to stop asking all of us questions about Paul Pierce. Let him do the talking. We'll see at the end who's going to win this series. We give a lot of respect to him and to the whole team, the Wizards, so we'll see what happens."
Pierce, a 17-year veteran, smiled and issued a playful "No comment" when asked about Vasquez's remarks after a light workout on Verizon Center's auxiliary court. Some teammates underwent treatment, while others watched film during the first of two days off between the opening games of the series.
The Wizards are scheduled to practice today before flying back to Toronto for Game 2 Tuesday night.
Pierce, meanwhile, wasn't about to incite Raptors players before Game 2, preferring instead to talk about Washington's defensive effort. The Wizards limited the NBA's fourth-highest-scoring team in the regular season to 38 percent shooting, including just 6-for-29 (21 percent) from 3-point range. Toronto shot 35 percent from beyond the arc during the regular season.
"It was fun, actually," Pierce said of the jeers that greeted him, even during warmups. "It's a great environment. Playoff basketball, that's what it's all about. Can't expect to get cheered on the road, but I tend to block that out and focus on the job at hand and do what I need to do to help my team win."