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Paul Pierce is now a LeBron James fan

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There is no question that Boston Celtics legend Paul Pierce is the number one LeBron James hater. Since his playing days and in his new career as a broadcaster, Pierce has hurled all sorts of criticism towards the Los Angeles Lakers star forward. So when Pierce shared what he liked about James' evolution, almost everyone was caught off guard by it. Can we now call Pierce a LeBron James fan?

In the duel between the Lakers and the Celtics on Friday, Pierce gave an honest-to-goodness assessment of how James has tweaked his game as he's gotten older. Pierce even shared what he believes makes a player great — a requirement that James ticks.

"You know what I like? As LeBron got older, he's gone to the post a lot more, and that's what you saw with Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. As you get a little older, you can't be on the ball as much, and that's a true sign of greatness that he can just change his game and find other ways to be effective."

Paul Pierce, NBCS Celtics Twitter

These are unexpected words from Pierce's mouth. Not too long ago, when he was still with ESPN, The Truth declared that James isn't in his top five all-time list. Before the season kicked off, he said that if the Lakers fail to win it all this year, James should be booted out of the GOAT conversation. 

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It's easy to trace the root of Pierce's hatred for James. In James' first stint in Cleveland, Pierce's Celtics were their main archenemies. James was already on top of the NBA world then. He single-handedly turned the Cavaliers into a legitimate title contender, answering to all the hype that had been surrounding him as a high school kid. All he needed was a championship ring. But Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen had other aspirations. From 2007 to 2010, the Celtics booted out the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals twice. 

According to analysts, these heartbreaking playoff exits were the deciding factors that led James to take his talents to South Beach — a move that didn't sit well with Pierce. After all, the powerhouse Miami Heat squad kicked them out in the playoffs two consecutive times. This time around, the Celtics were forced to break up their Hall-of-Fame trio. 

Pierce wasn't able to escape James' wrath though., as he met the mighty Heat squad in the 2014 Eastern Conference Semifinals in his lone season with the Brooklyn Nets. Pierce wanted vengeance and so he approached then Nets coach Jason Kidd to match him up with James. It was a valiant effort by the former NBA Finals MVP, who was 36-years-old then. For all his efforts, not only were the Nets eliminated in five games, James also dropped a 49-piece on him in Game 4. Pierce found himself a casualty to James' legendary NBA Finals streak. 

And so the question now is, why the sudden turn of events? Why is Pierce suddenly salivating at James' evolution? The answer is simple. We have to remember that these NBA players are competitive by nature. Even after their playing career, there's still an immense desire to win — whatever field it may be. But at the same time, they are ultimate fans of the sport. And there's nothing better than seeing basketball and its players grow. 

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