Clippers’ Avery Bradley talks Paul Pierce, Doc Rivers and the trade deadline frenzy
The former Celtic talked to CBS Sports about Paul Pierce's jersey retirement and the trade deadline
NEW YORK -- Los Angeles Clippers guard Austin Rivers is happy he doesn't have to worry about Avery Bradley anymore. There are only two or three defenders in the league who Rivers knows will make his night annoying, and Bradley -- acquired in late January as part of the Blake Griffin blockbuster -- is one of them. When they were adversaries, Rivers could make a good move against Bradley but could never be sure it would lead to a good look.
"His recovery step is the most impressive thing about his defense," Rivers told CBS Sports before the Clippers' 114-101 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Monday. "His lateral movement is crazy, but it's more like his second step. You'll beat him on the first step, he'll come from behind and either get you up there or strip you. It makes it just kind of frustrating. If you're a ballhandler and you're making good moves, or if you're coming off a pick and you think you're clean, he keeps coming, keeps coming. It irritates a lot of guys. It wears people down."
Bradley's arrival in Los Angeles has reunited him with coach Doc Rivers, who oversaw the first three years of his career with the Boston Celtics. "It's awesome, it's been amazing," Doc Rivers told CBS Sports, saying that he loved the veteran approached him to say the team needed more ball movement during a recent game.
"He was great when we got him, he was a very mature kid," he said. "But now he's more sure of himself."
The coach added that those Celtics teams' collective work ethic, professionalism and seriousness have stayed with Bradley. In an interview at shootaround, Bradley independently said the same thing. The following Q&A is lightly edited for clarity and flow.
What did Doc say to you after the trade?
Bradley: Just that he was excited for me to be here. That's really it. Me and Doc know each other pretty well, me playing for him for three years. Now being back here, it's regular for us. We understand each other on and off the court. I think it's mutual respect.
Is L.A. Doc any different than Boston Doc?
Bradley: Yeah, maybe a little more laid back than he was in Boston. Maybe he just hasn't showed his real Doc side that I know yet. But nah, he's pretty laid back. I guess that's always been Doc. Maybe I was just a little younger and he was on me a little bit.
Get a chance to watch Paul Pierce's retirement ceremony?
Bradley: I watched a little bit of it. Yeah. Just an amazing accomplishment. I'm happy for him. I feel like that's like the ultimate accomplishment. He deserves it, and I wish I could've been there to support. I'm just happy for him and his family.
Favorite memories of playing with him?
Bradley: Just his work ethic. How much he loves the game and cares about the game. That's something that I always appreciated, being one of his teammates. It motivated me to want to work hard and be the best player I could be, watching him work hard every single day.
Do you still try to bring that intensity that those teams had?
Bradley: I think that's a part of me. I learned from those guys, how to be a professional on and off the court. Their intensity I think was instilled in me, as an 18, 19-year-old kid. I think it carries over to every destination I've been to so far without even knowing it.
When you had the stability you had for most of your career and now it's this season, what has it been like?
Bradley: I mean, it's part of the business. I understand it. I've been through enough in my life that, no matter what, I'll figure it out, make the best out of it. So it's all good.
What is it like trying to learn a new system, learn new teammates and then doing it again in a contract year?
Bradley: It's challenging, but at the same time, I know that everything will work itself out. That's my focus. All I can control is how hard I play and put the rest in God's hands. However it works out, it works out. I know it will work out how it's supposed to.
When nobody got moved at the deadline, was there some relief for this team?
Bradley: I think it was for everybody. Knowing that this is our team moving forward, we can focus a lot more. Just focus on winning games and making the playoffs. I think it made a lot of our guys comfortable, including myself, knowing that this is where I'm going to be.
When you didn't make All-Defense last year, sostepped up and said, 'How was Avery Bradley not on the team?'
Bradley: I felt like it was a smack in the face. I mean, I'm not making anything else in this league. I averaged 17 last year. So if I'm not making anything else on the top team in the East, I feel like if I'm supposed to be a defensive player to everybody, there should be no reason for me never to be on a defensive team. I made a defensive team when I was  years old, and I played half the season. I missed 19 games last year and didn't make the team. I didn't understand that.
Was it nice to get that support, at least?
Bradley: It was, it was. But at the same time, I know that. And I know guys know that in the league. 'Cause I know the way that I guard people, no one else is doing it.
When you have that reputation as a defensive guy, is it sort of like guys who get labeled dunkers wanting to show people they can do more?
Bradley: It's a blessing and a curse. I always tell people that. Whenever I come into a situation, you might have a guy that just plays, that's just a good offensive scorer on the team. I feel like I'm one of the rare cases in this league of a two-way player. I feel like it's hard for certain people to be able to coach me because of that. If you have a guy that just can score, you almost want, everybody has to be inserted in different roles. Sometimes I feel like my defense is so elite that sometimes my offense gets put on the backburner. Boston was a good situation for me, but I think it was over time they were able to understand what they had.
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