Deron Williams on Paul Pierce's criticism: 'I got pretty thick skin'

ByOhm Youngmisuk ESPN logo
Thursday, April 16, 2015

NEW YORK -- Contrary to what Paul Pierce might think, Deron Williams says he's mentally tough enough to shrug off criticism.

Responding to Pierce's comments to's Jackie MacMullan about how pressure got to Williams and "really affected" the point guard, Williams said he's "not bothered at all" by the assessment from his former teammate.

"Being here, I got pretty thick skin," Williams said Wednesday night after the Nets defeated Orlando 101-88 at Barclays Center. "He has his opinions, and that's fine."

"It's what it is. I can't change his opinions. So just leave it at that."

Pierce reflected on his one season in Brooklyn by describing his Nets experience as "horrible." Currently with the Washington Wizards, Pierce said he was stunned by "guys' attitudes there" and that "they were vets who didn't want to play and didn't want to practice."

"If me and Kevin [Garnett] weren't there, that team would have folded up," said Pierce, who wasn't re-signed by the Nets as a free agent in the offseason. "That team would have packed it in. We kept them going each and every day."

Pierce's most candid comments were about Williams, the former All-Star point guard. Pierce and Garnett often said they needed Williams to perform at a high level for them to reach their lofty goals in Brooklyn, but the Nets started 10-21 before making the playoffs and losing in the second round to Miami last season.

"Before I got there, I looked at Deron as an MVP candidate,'' Pierce said. "But I felt once we got there, that's not what he wanted to be. He just didn't want that.

"I think a lot of the pressure got to him sometimes. This was his first time in the national spotlight. The media in Utah is not the same as the media in New York, so that can wear on some people. I think it really affected him.''

With the Nets needing a victory and an Indiana loss to make the playoffs Wednesday night, Williams missed all five of his 3-point attempts but had 10 points, seven assists and five rebounds to help Brooklyn overcome a 12-point third-quarter deficit to beat Orlando.

Pierce also said swingman Joe Johnson was "quiet'' and "doesn't want much attention. He doesn't say much."

"He's probably right. ... He's right about me," Johnson said with a chuckle after scoring seven of his 16 points in the fourth quarter and adding seven rebounds and six assists.

Pierce said he and Garnett were hoping the Nets' stars would help push them at this late stage in their careers, but many of the Nets were "secondary guys" who needed the former Celtics leaders to push them.

"He's right; he and KG were the leaders," Johnson said. "They led us through the good and the bad. So I don't have nothing negative to say; that's kind of how it is."

"Honestly, it doesn't bother me. I have been criticized before. That's not the first time; it definitely won't be the last. It doesn't bother me one way or another. I swear to you. If that's how Paul felt, that's how Paul felt. He's entitled to his opinion."

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