NEW YORK CITY - Former Boston Celtics stars Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry made their debuts Thursday (Friday, PHL time) as members of the Brooklyn Nets and already began talking about winning an NBA title.
"We've got all the ingredients we need to win a championship," Pierce said.
"We just need to figure out how to make it all come together. Great players always figure it out and I think we will."
Russian billionaire and Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, new Nets coach Jason Kidd and team general manager Billy King joined the star trio at a news conference where the Nets made dethroning the two-time defending champion Miami Heat their clear mission.
"We're talking about a championship," Kidd said.
"The big picture is the championship trophy and hopefully we can win that. The gold trophy is what we're here for."
Pierce was the 2008 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player and Garnett dominated inside as the Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers for the title five years ago while Terry helped Dallas beat Miami in the 2011 finals before joining the Celtics last year.
"We're about winning a championship and coming to the Nets gives us the best opportunity," Garnett said.
"Adding what you see up here to what they already have here, I feel like this gives us the best option to win it all."
They join a Nets squad that went 49-33 last season, losing to Chicago in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
With guard Deron Williams, forward Joe Johnson and center Brook Lopez likely joined by Garnett, 37, and Pierce, 35, in the starting lineup and Terry coming off the bench along with 32-year-old Russian forward Andrei Kirilenko, another newcomer to the Nets, Brooklyn promises to be a formidable club.
"We're going to be right up there with the best of them," Pierce said. "Miami, they are the champs. There's Chicago, Indiana, then I think you have to look at us. With me, Kevin and Jet along with Jason (Kidd), we don't have any egos. We want to compete for a championship."
Prokhorov is spending huge sums to make the Nets an instant winner, adding toughness, experience and leadership in Pierce, who averaged 21.8 points and 6.9 rebounds a game over 15 years in Boston, and Garnett, who has career averages of 19.1 points and 10.5 rebounds a game.
"It's tough when you have been in a situation for 15 years. But when you look at what they are trying to do, bring in the pieces to win a championship, we can bring a lot of excitement.
"At some point we all have to move on. I'm here to create some kind of legacy in Brooklyn."
Prokhorov will spent $101 million in salary next season and another $82 million in NBA luxury tax penalties for exceeding the league salary cap.
But he assembled an all-star starting line-up of Williams ($18.4 million), Johnson ($21.4 million), Pierce ($15.3 million), Garnett ($12.4 million) and Lopez ($14.6 million).
"You've got to look at what everybody brings," Pierce said. "We all complement each other. We understand sacrifice. We want Joe and Deron to be MVP and all-star candidates. We as players have no choice but to make this work so we are going to figure this out."
Kidd's headache will be finding minutes for everyone over an 82-game season and still having a team with older talent rested and healthy entering the playoffs, similar to what the San Antonio Spurs mastered last season.
"The roster is deep. These guys don't have to play 35 minutes a night," Kidd said. "My job is to watch the clock, keep their minutes down. Maybe they won't play one night. The bigger picture is to have these guys healthy going into the playoffs."
And in the end, for all the salary money, it will be about how well the stars align.
"It's about how well we gel, learning each other's games," Garnett said. "It's going to be the biggest question mark for this team, how well are we going to gel and how quickly.
"Everyone is going to sacrifice their own games, defense is going to have to be a priority and everybody is going to have to do something they are uncomfortable doing. That's the only way this is going to work." - AFP