NBA NOTEBOOK: Boston's Pierce saving money at All-Star game

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Paul Pierce is glad to be back home for the All-Star game, even though the Boston Celtics star is hearing some boos.

"To come back here for a second time and play in an All-Star game really means a lot - just to save money on plane tickets and hotels for my mom and my aunts," he said, laughing.

Pierce is from nearby Inglewood, where he used to sneak into the Forum growing up to see the Lakers play.

The boos Pierce has heard are reminiscent of Kobe Bryant getting booed when the All-Star game was played in Philadelphia, where he was a high school star.

"When you play for L.A.'s biggest rival, it's tough getting booed by the fans. But I'm sure if Kobe Bryant was from Boston, he'd get booed, too, if he went back there," Pierce said.

"It's something you get thrown into once you become a Celtic or a Laker. It's automatic, regardless of how you used to feel about the Lakers or Boston. Once you put on one of the uniforms from either side, you automatically inherit the rivalry."


JAZZ FALLOUT: Deron Williams says his final argument with Jerry Sloan "wasn't a big deal" and that the two had had worse clashes before.

Sloan abruptly resigned Feb. 10 after 23 seasons as Utah Jazz coach, a day after he and Williams argued during halftime of a win against Chicago.

"What it was, we have a play called 22 that starts on the left side of the floor," Williams said. "I just told everybody let's try it on the right side of the floor. That's it. He got a little upset with me."

The Jazz is 0-3 under new coach Ty Corbin.

Since Sloan's departure, Williams has been accused of repeatedly disregarding Sloan's playcalling, a charge he denies.

"No, no. If coach Sloan has a play, I'm going to run it," he said. "I did what coach Sloan said. Sometimes we disagreed on things and we'd have an argument, but I never broke plays or he called something and I said 'No, I'm not running that.' Never."

Williams said he was caught off-guard by Sloan's departure.

"I figured he'd retire sometime, he's 69, but not in the middle of the season," he said.


KINGS HOLDING COURT: LeBron James and Jay-Z held court together Saturday at the Los Angeles Boys & Girls club.

The Miami Heat superstar and rapper/entrepreneur/minority owner of the New Jersey Nets visited with kids and attended the groundbreaking ceremonies for the completely renovated gymnasium as part of the Sprite Spark Parks project.

Sprite is investing $2 million this year in renovating more than 150 parks, athletic fields and playgrounds across the nation. From now until April 8, people can log onto to nominate a court in their neighborhood that needs to be renovated.

This is the third straight year James and Jay-Z have attended a charitable event during NBA All-Star weekend. The two friends formed their own 2 Kings collaboration so that they could use their influence and resources to benefit kids.

"LeBron and I grew up with a lot of love in our home, but not the best of circumstances," Jay-Z said. "So we relate to a lot of people in these areas.

"We just want to provide some sort of opportunity so that people who have that talent or have that drive, but just don't have that opportunity based on where you grew up."

Having grown up in the Marcy Housing projects in the Bedford Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn, N.Y., Jay-Z remembered not having many role models who he could look up to.

"For myself, I've always made a promise because people have always left Marcy projects and we never saw them again," he said. "They never came back to share that story, how'd they do it?

"I've always said to myself as a kid, if I ever had a chance to be successful then that would be the thing that I would do."

James, the spokesman for the Sprite Spark Park program, relayed a statistic that impacted how he wanted to help kids. Though basketball was an outlet for him to stay out of trouble, James wants to encourage kids to engage in any positive activities.

"Between the times from 3 to 6 in the afternoon, that's when a lot of kids get in trouble as far as gangs and drugs and doing bad things," James said. "So we support anything for after-school programs. "It could be basketball. It could be a book club, it can be anything to just try to keep them off the streets between those times or just having a park or a social group."


BIG OPPORTUNITY: Chris Bosh went to Miami in part for some bigger opportunities.

He found one 10-feet tall.

Bosh appears with a baby giraffe in a new "Got Milk?" ad that was unveiled during All-Star weekend. He said one of the benefits of his offseason move from Toronto was the chance to get more recognition that he wasn't afforded north of the border.

"I've got to meet a lot of cool people, I've done a lot of cool things and just had a lot of great opportunities," Bosh said. "I knew that was a plus coming into this situation. It can be a gift and a curse, because you're under the microscope."

Bosh remembers wishing the Raptors were on TV more when he played there, and laughs sometimes when he's complimented for having a good game by people who don't realize he used to have plenty of them without the fanfare.

"You have to be on a big stage, that's what guys told me. You want to play on the big stage, that's what it's all about," he said. "You want to be in the finals, you want to compete for a championship. And these are guys that don't play anymore, so I kind of took that to heart."

Bosh wears his U.S. Olympic jersey as he appears next to 1-year-old Mainard in the ad encouraging teens to drink milk. Though it's often believed it was during the 2008 Olympics that Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade hatched their plan to play together, Bosh denies it.

"No, for one, I think it's illegal. And two, we were just hanging out," he said. "We had our stresses with our team and we were beginning to get questions about free agency. That's when they first started and it was such a mind-boggling topic.

"I wasn't even thinking about that at the time. But time happens and we all chose the same spot so it worked out. I can see why people would think, 'Oh, they decided that a long time ago,' but man, we had our respective teams. Our minds were in totally different places at the time."


AP Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney and freelancer Victoria Sun contributed to this report.


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