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The Boston Globe

Sports

Larry Bird heaps praise on Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce

AP File

Paul Pierce

ORLANDO – Larry Bird does not talk much to the media, but when he does, he is brutally honest, engaging, and entertaining.

He was after the Pacers’ game at the Orlando Summer Pro League, when he was asked about a variety of topics, since time with Bird is so precious. He addressed the end of the Big Three Era in Boston and reflected on his own Big Three Era, and how he, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish were allowed to age in Celtics uniforms.

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“It’s tough. I knew I was on my way out. Actually I was going to leave a couple of years earlier and [former president] Dave Gavitt talked me into staying,” Bird said. “It was tough. There was always talk about should Red trade us early, but there’s loyalty there in that organization and he decided to keep us.

“But you always gotta look out for the franchise. You always do.”

Bird said seeing Paul Pierce not finish his career with Boston is difficult.

“I would have loved to see it,” he said. “I got a lot of respect for Paul and what he has accomplished. But who says he’s not going to play another four years? It’s a tough situation.”

When asked if Pierce and Kevin Garnett had something left to offer the Brooklyn Nets, Bird said: “Well I think they’ve both been pretty healthy throughout their careers. They haven’t had the major, major injuries that I had. Yeah, I think they got plenty left. The way they will be coached and the bench that they have. Yeah. they’ll pick their spots., but when the time comes, they’ll be there.”

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Bird had nothing but compliments for Pierce, the franchise’s second all-time leading scorer.

“He’s one of the better ones to ever come through there. He really is.”

Of course, Bird couldn’t end the interview without taking a jab at his buddy Danny Ainge.

“Believe me, Danny Ainge knows what he’s doing,” Bird said. “He won a championship. I never doubt Danny Ainge. I only doubted him when he had the ball in his hands and three seconds to go. Not in the position he is in now. Danny does a good job. You know you do get older. You can’t beat Father Time and I’m sure things will work out.”

Bird, who took over the Pacers as a first-year coach in 1997, had positive comments about new Celtics coach Brad Stevens.

“I don’t know Brad Stevens personally, but I know he did a good job in Indianapolis [at Butler University],” Bird said. “The people really like him there. I’m not surprised [he took an NBA job], I know two or three years ago, he wasn’t, but he had a guy sniffing around the NBA seeing what was out there, so I’m not surprised by it. But I think he’ll do fine. But it takes time.

“[Stevens is] very patient. He don’t get too excited. When the players watch their coach and they don’t get excited, they play with a demeanor and keep pushing and pushing and everything is going to be all right. It carries over to his players. And that’s why [Butler] got so far in the last few years.”

Gary Washburn can be reached at gwashburn@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @gwashNBAGlobe.

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