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Pierce wants to play but wouldn't take latest deal

November 19, 2011

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BOSTON—Celtics captain Paul Pierce isn't ready to take the latest deal from the NBA owners to end the lockout and sated his desire to play basketball in the Boston Charity Classic on Saturday night.

"If I had a vote would I take the deal now?" Pierce said of the offer the players' union rejected Monday. "You know what? I don't think the deal that's on the table now is a deal I would take."

Pierce was one of 11 NBA players in the game hosted by Celtics teammate Rajon Rondo at Harvard, where Rondo's green team took on a white team coached by Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch.

After the game, the attention turned to why they aren't playing NBA games.

"Right now I want to get a deal. I want to play," Pierce said. "I don't have too many years left. But it has to be a fair deal. I think that's the most important thing."

Pierce said he spent time in some of the meetings and has handled calls from other players.

"They really discussed their options," he said. "That's all I've been doing during this course, going to the meetings and listening to what the deal is. A lot of players looked at me for that role in leadership when they talk about negotiating and they talk about their options. A lot of guys asked me. When I deal with that call all I do is give them the information."

The game to benefit three local charities also featured former Celtics Kendrick Perkins and Leon Powe, as well as Jajuan Johnson, Boston's first-round draft pick out of Purdue last spring. Rudy Gay, Josh Smith and Jeff Green also were on hand.

The players were introduced by their former colleges, or in Perkins' case high school. Perkins got the loudest ovation.

"I still am," Perkins said when asked if he was hurt over being dealt last season.

"Both sides need to just sit down and get it done," he said of the labor problem.

When asked if he thought both could put pride aside at this point, he smiled and said: "I don't know."

As has been the case in the games staged by players during the NBA lockout, most of the action featured alley-oop dunks, trick passes that led to slams and long-range 3s. The players tossed T-shirts to the fans at the end of each quarter.

Pierce arrived about 2 minutes into the game and -- along with Rondo and Perkins -- received a standing ovation from the soldout crowd of approximately 2,000 fans, many wearing Celtics' garb.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino sat courtside and posed for pictures with Pierce, who later sat in the stands and took pictures with fans.

The most recent round of labor talks broke down Monday, and Tuesday was the first day players missed a twice-a-month paycheck.

"There are a lot of players that are not happy with how the negotiations are going and a lot of players that are talking about the situation of decertification," Pierce said.

Though he doesn't think the season will be canceled, he knows it's not looking good right now.

"I think both sides want to play. I think both sides are equally losing," he said. "I believe (the owners) want to be on the court and we want to be on the court. I really don't want it to go to court, but that's a real possibility right now."

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