That line that athletes give -- about not looking too far ahead and just focusing on the next game -- is not Paul Pierce's train of thought, at least for now.
When the NBA released its schedule Tuesday, the new Nets small forward had no trouble finding the one game everyone knew he'd be looking for: the night he'll return to Boston to face the team and city he called home for the first 15 seasons of his NBA career.
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It'll be Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014 -- not soon enough, in Pierce's mind.
"That was easy to find. I spotted it right away," Pierce said. "You just want to get it out of the way. [If] you have to get through something tough, I've always been a guy that just wants to get it out of the way. It's going to be in the back of my mind throughout the season. I don't know if I can even go there in the preseason. That'll be tough. So I'll go out there one time next year and you know . . . you've got to do it."
Pierce, who appeared Thursdayat Basketball City in Manhattan for a promotional event, was traded from Boston to the Nets along with Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry on draft night.
When the Nets introduced their new trio at a news conference in mid-July, Pierce was noticeably uncomfortable to be surrounded by Nets black and white instead of Celtics green. He conceded yesterday that when he searches NBA.com, he still clicks on the "Boston" link instead of "Brooklyn."
But now Pierce said he's warming to the trade, has found a place to live and even went so far as to say the Nets could be the best team he's ever played for, at least on paper.
"It's definitely the most talented team [I've been on]," Pierce said. "But come June or July when I'm out there on the beach, I want to say this was the best team I've ever played on, and the only way to do that is to win a championship."
He also got excited about the idea of building a legacy in Brooklyn.
"I want to be that guy that says, 'I was one of the first guys to put a banner in Brooklyn,' " he said. "Since I've been in the NBA, you always look at the Nets as bottom-dwellers . . . and no one really respected them. Now I can really see this organization rising to the ranks of the respectability of the Lakers, Knicks, Celtics, and that's what they're trying to build."