Paul Pierce and LeBron James shared good battles on the court. The Boston Celtics with the Big 3 gave James some bitter lessons about losses, but LeBron finally got over the hump and has since had Pierce's number in the playoffs. The two registered virtually the same numbers in their rivalry, and it's closer than most people think.
LeBron James-Paul Pierce rivalry
Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers met in the 2008 NBA finals. Pierce, together with Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, and Ray Allen, handed James a devastating loss. In 2010, the Celtics would again deal the Cavaliers a postseason defeat in the Eastern Semifinals.
In 2011, James took his talents to South Beach and merged forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The Heat went on to beat the Celtics in 2011 and 2012. As a member of the Brooklyn Nets in 2014, Pierce also succumbed to James in the playoffs.
Per Land of Basketball, the L.A. Lakers star enjoys a slim advantage in career head-to-head in the regular season over Pierce with a 35-34 win-loss record, while in the playoffs, James also leads with a 17-13 lead all time. This probably explains why the former champion remains bitter towards LeBron and constantly throws shade at him whenever there's an opportunity.
Paul Pierce questions LeBron James' legacy
In September 2020, Pierce commented that players today were afraid of James. Paul retired in 2017 but remained active on T.V. as an ESPN analyst. As an analyst, part of his work was to make controversial calls and opinions that would create debates and discussions online. But he also threw shade at James whenever he got the chance. In a now-deleted Tweet but published by CBS Sports, you can feel the distaste below:
My era is out of the league. We weren't afraid of LeBron, but these guys today, he strikes fear in these guys. I can see it.
Via CBS Sports
Even Nikola Jokic called James a "mismatch" whenever the Denver Nuggets play against the point forward, who many consider the GOAT. Meanwhile, Draymond Green, who was LeBron's nemesis in the Golden State-Cavaliers playoffs classics, shut Paul up with his take via an Instagram story:
You still fear Bron. ... Shut up already! We get it!
Via CBS Sports
Still, the soon-to-be Hall of Fame inductee lambasts James and questions his legacy as a Laker. With all the acquisitions the management of Lakers have done in recent seasons, it would be a hit on LeBron's legacy should they fail to add more titles, per The Truth.
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What Pierce said is not entirely wrong. Part of James' task is still to lead the team to win more titles given that ample support was given to him season after season. But, if Los Angeles does not wing a ring anymore, it does not mean that James' failed. It's a team effort, after all. Plus, health factors should also be considered. The Lakers suffered various injuries in the playoffs, which affected their title chances. If everybody's healthy and focused, the Lakers are as good as anyone to win a ring.
For critics of Pierce, some claim he used the platform as a T.V. analyst to attack James. The bashing added up to his antics, which he broadcasted live on social media. But The Truth remains adamant and defiant.
I was done with them, anyway. It wasn't a great fit. There's a lot of stuff over there that you can't say. And you have to talk about LeBron all the time.
The James coverage of ESPN is not connected to what he has done outside his job. Posting videos of him smoking and dancing suggestively with dancers will not do good things for him as a retired basketball professional who kids still look up to for inspiration.
For James, it's a good thing he has not responded to Paul Pierce's comments. He does not have to. Pierce can air his opinions on James or any other player he wants to comment on, but making illogical statements would only get him more bashing from fans. He should start criticizing a player based on facts and numbers and not just from personal feelings to make it more objective.