DORCHESTER — Paul Pierce spent his Saturday morning leading exercise sessions with local kids at the Salvation Army Kroc Center, part of his program for childhood fitness, and he was expected to participate in tonight’s Rajon Rondo-organized all-star game at Harvard.
Pierce is ready to return to the court for the Celtics, but the four-month long NBA lockout that has now become a legal battle prevents that. Pierce was linked to a player uprising that was prepared to decertify the players’ union for a better advantage against the league’s owners.
While the NBPA did disband this past week, Pierce said he only viewed decertification as an option and denied that he was encouraging fellow players to dissolve the union.
“I never told nobody to decertify,” he said. “That’s not something I was (doing). A lot of players around the league have respect for me and they call me in the summer because they know I got an understanding of what’s going on with the negotiations and a lot of players asked me about decertification. And all I did was bring the information to them. I didn’t push it one way or another.”
Pierce said players began calling him about their options.
“It was like they wanted to know so we got a conference call with a lot of the guys that was interested in it, talked to a lawyer about the ins and outs about it and that was pretty much it,” he said. “At the end of the day, it ain’t Paul Pierce saying this is what the guys are going to do. I’m only one vote. It’s got to be decided by everybody.”
The first six weeks of the NBA schedule have been wiped out by commissioner David Stern, including the first 20 Celtics games. If the schedule was intact, Boston would host Golden State on Sunday at TD Garden.
“I’m very disappointed. I should be playing today,” Pierce said. “Who’s on the schedule? I think there’s disappointment on both sides. I was in here in ’98, who knows how many records I would have broken if I hadn’t gone through two lockouts?”
The kids at the fitness event cheered vigorously when Pierce entered the Salvation Army gym and he walked through the groups of kids, slapped hands, took pictures and participated in the exercise programs.
“It’s hard when you see the fans and you go out in the community and they ask you what’s going on and you can’t really give them an answer,” he said. “It’s like a stalemate and I feel bad because these are people that are really our big fans who really enjoy watching us play. We’re depriving a lot of people. I hope it doesn’t go through full litigation but that’s the route the players have chosen and I am sticking with that route.”