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Paul Pierce rips Nets, singles out Deron Williams

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Paul Pierce (l.) claims ex-Nets teammate Deron Williams (r.) crumbled under the pressure of playing in New York.LARRY W. SMITH/EPA

Paul Pierce (l.) claims ex-Nets teammate Deron Williams (r.) crumbled under the pressure of playing in New York.

As he left Brooklyn for the Washington Wizards last summer, Paul Pierce said things that suggested he may not have been happy with his time in New York.

He called the franchise “New Jersey” and said the club was more interested in cutting costs than winning a title on his way out.

Now, in comments he made to ESPN on Tuesday, it’s clear there was much he didn’t like with his time in Brooklyn, starting with Deron Williams.

“Before I got there, I looked at Deron as an MVP candidate,” Pierce told ESPN. “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.”

When his contract demands weren’t met in Brooklyn, he bolted to Washington, where he is gearing up for another post-season run while the Nets are trying to make the playoffs.

“I’m much happier,” he said. “It was a tough situation (in Brooklyn) last year. Horrible, really.

“It was just the guys’ attitudes there. It wasn’t like we were surrounded by a bunch of young guys. They were vets who didn’t want to play and didn’t want to practice. I was looking around saying, ‘What’s this?’ Kevin (Garnett) and I had to pick them up every day in practice.

“If me and Kevin weren’t there, that team would have folded up. That team would have packed it in. We kept them going each and every day.”

Pierce also critiqued Joe Johnson, describing him as pleasant but not exactly a leader.

“Joe is quiet,” Pierce said. “He doesn’t want much attention. He doesn’t say much.

“There’s a lot of secondary guys on that team. KG and I went there looking at them as the main guys who would push us, because we were advancing in years. But we ended up doing all the pushing.”

Brooklyn sacrificed its future to acquire Pierce and Garnett from the Celtics, giving up its 2014 pick and unprotected picks in 2016 and 2018. Instead of a deep playoff run, the Nets faltered in the second round of the playoffs, losing to the Heat.

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