Earlier in the year, LeBron proclaimed himself the greatest that ever played the game. We covered the not-so-classy moment here. The majority of league responded negatively about such a statement, agreeing you should let others judge your work and historical importance — some more than others.
Danny Ainge is no LeBron fan; we know that by now. The Celtics GM spent the majority of his GM career building teams with the intention to defeat LeBron. The way to the Finals in the East meant you have to beat LeBron. So when Danny Ainge criticized LeBron for calling himself the GOAT, nobody was surprised. What did surprise everyone was his choice of words, explicitly comparing LeBron to Donald Trump.
"His career's not over," Ainge told 98.5's "Toucher & Rich" on Thursday. "I'd just like to ... why he's saying that, I don't know. Maybe he thinks that that sells. Maybe he's taking the Donald Trump approach and trying to sell himself. I don't know.
"Obviously LeBron is in every conversation with who is the greatest player of all-time. But time will tell. I don't know if anyone knows who the greatest of all-time is, because the years are so different."
The comparison had to have been an intentional low blow from Ainge. A little extra you know would sting more than the mainstream criticism. Trump is the last person LeBron wanted to be compared to and this one he won't forget.
Ainge has been one of the best GM's in his era, building championship teams and winning most trades he makes. But, acquiring players and making them happy also has a political aspect to it. You have to understand the pecking order and politics of the NBA not to stop over certain lines. It is very possible Ainge did just that.
Anthony Davis is a Rich Paul client, as is LeBron. LeBron's connection to Klutch Sports is very well documented and he uses that power to get other Klutch clients huge contracts (Tristan Thompson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope). It can also be used to get back at people. As Amin Elhassan pointed out in the latest episode of The Jump, his comments about LeBron can be one of the reasons Davis doesn't want to play in Boston (via The Jump):
You're playing with fire there because, beyond it wasn't an apt comparison, and also it was a topic completely Celtics-free, you know there is a very strained relationship between The President (Trump) and LeBron James. You know you are insulting LeBron James when you say that. You know his influence on the agency (Klutch Sports) and who they represent. This was Danny Ainge's "PosseGate". Phil Jackson said "posse" and that's it, the Knicks were of the LeBron list. Now Danny Ainge said that stuff and Boston's off the list for Anthony Davis.
We can't be 100% certain this is what sealed the decision, but add the Daivs Sr. comments on the Isiah Thomas trade, and it is clear that as much as the decisions Ainge made for the Celtics improved the team, players have taken notice and are finding it more difficult to trust him.