Unlike the general populous, I’m very lucky to be able to express my opinion for a living. Be it on television, radio, podcasts, on stages, in classrooms, on panels, or even as a consultant, I’m compensated rather nicely to basically say, “This is what I think.” After a decorated 19-year career in the NBA, future Hall of Famer Paul Pierce is now able to do the same.
In both instances, our opinions are formed from personal experience. So when I say, “Fuck LeBron!” it’s because I’ve spent the last 17 years watching him obliterate my team, the Orlando Magic, and some of my favorite players along the way with relative ease. (I felt the exact same way about Kobe, y’all—I’m consistent.) But Paul Pierce is part of the NBA’s fraternity, so even though he might hop on Blue Ivy’s internet and say “Fuck Lebron!” behind a burner account, or randomly mumble it under his breath at a Spice Girls concert, he can’t say it with his chest without incurring the wrath of the NBA community. So instead, he’s taken veiled shots at LeBron throughout the years or will say something completely outlandish—but seemingly innocuous—like King James “isn’t a Top 5 player of all-time,” like he did Wednesday on NBA Countdown.
On the surface, Paul’s reasoning is sound: Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant will tear any player in any era a new asshole or twelve. But LeBron’s omission isn’t based on merit, it’s very much personal (Remember what I said about personal experience?)—as revealed by Paul’s own former teammate, Kendrick Perkins, on ESPN’s Hoop Streams.
“Paul Pierce’s list is personal because—and we don’t talk about this enough—but Paul and Bron have never liked each other since Bron’s rookie year,” Perkins said.
He then goes on to explain how a 2004 preseason dust-up between Paul’s Boston Celtics and LeBron’s Cleveland Cavaliers almost erupted into a good ol’ fashion, passionate ass whooping.
“Paul is talking noise to the bench, right?” Perkins recalled. “He’s talking big noise to the Cavs bench, and they’re sitting over there, Bron and them, they’re all sitting over there. [...] Paul actually spits over there at the bench, right? The ultimate disrespect.”
He continued, “It ended up turning up. After the game, both teams were meeting in the back. We had guys ready to fight. We had to hold people back. Guys were ready to fight. Ever since that moment, LeBron James and Paul Pierce hate each other. They don’t speak together, even now today.”
So now that we have proper context—more of which you can find here—let’s close our eyes, hold hands and sing it together, y’all: Paul Pierce is a fucking hater.
As a card-carrying member of Team Biggie, I was never particularly fond of 2Pac. Even as a teenager, I thought he unnecessarily provoked his peers and conjured up chaos for no reason whatsoever. But to say he isn’t an all-time great would be preposterous, and Paul’s lying ass is doing exactly that—even though our very own Managing Editor Genetta Adams co-signed that foolishness once upon a time herself.
Never in the history of the NBA have we seen a player with Karl Malone’s size, Michael Jordan’s athleticism and explosiveness, Kobe’s guile and Magic Johnson’s otherworldly passing ability all crammed into the same DNA strand. This nigga is a literal cheat code who Skynet sent from the future to destroy the hopes and dreams of opposing teams and NBA coaches. I hate his ass for a reason and apparently, so does Paul Pierce. The difference is only one of us will openly admit it.
There are a few other reasons why The Truth has such an aversion to his own namesake, and because I’ve got time today, let’s deduce together.
Being a writer means I’m bad at math and numbers make me break out in hives. Thankfully, Pro Basketball Reference is really good at each of the above and the receipts aren’t particularly pretty.
In 39 regular season matchups throughout the course of their careers, Bron gave Paul that work, outscoring him by an average of nine points per game. And in the playoffs, shit only got uglier, with LeBron averaging 12 whole points-per-game more than his hating ass counterpart in 30 contests. And before you say, “But Paul won 21 of those games in the regular season!” Okay, sure. He did. But LeBron has the superior record in the playoffs and two more rings sooooooo...
Look, I get it. I was well into my 30s before I realized that I could even grow facial hair myself. But much like Beyoncé’s baby daddy, the verdict is still out on whatever hopes and dreams have been attempting to sprout on Paul’s face, since apparently prayer has changed everything but his chin. Meanwhile, say what you want about LeBron’s hairline, but his beard game is mean. So because feuds have been born from much less, it’s quite possible that beard envy is the source of Paul’s ire. Has he tried castor oil?
Look, man. Throughout the course of his career, Paul was a prolific scorer who gave just about any defender you put in front of him the business. He was also extra as hell, and we all remember the time that this dude crumpled to the floor and grabbed his knee like he just got shot in the 2008 NBA Finals. As he got wheeled off the court in a fucking wheelchair we all watched in horror and immediately assumed the worst. Did he tear his ACL? Rupture his Achilles? Is his career over with?
Then the most insane thing happened: minutes later, this dude comes jogging his ass back onto the court to raucous applause and proceeds to give the Lakers the business. What in the hell? Fam, wasn’t your leg about to get amputated? How in the hell did Iyanla fix your life so fast?
As it turns out, Paul just needed to take a piss.
“I have a confession to make,” he told Jalen Rose and Michelle Beadle during an episode of ESPN’s NBA Countdown last year. “I just had to go to the bathroom.”
LeBron would never.
In making his case that LeBron isn’t a top 5 player of all-time, Paul argued that King James has never built an organization from the ground up.
“Bill Russell built up the organization in Boston,” he said. “He should get way more credit than we give him, a lot of times he’s left out of the conversation. So in saying that, Kareem, look at some of the names I said, Kareem, Magic, Jordan, Tim Duncan, Kobe, Bird, these guys are all top-10 players who either helped build up their organization or continued the tradition.”
Yes, this came from the same guy who didn’t win jack shit until the Celtics acquired two first ballot NBA Hall of Famers in Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, but that’s beside the point. As a basketball player, it’s not Lebron’s job to build a damn thing. That’s what general managers are for. Bron’s job is to take whatever roster the front office has assembled and lead them to an NBA title—which he’s done three times so far.
More importantly—and unlike Paul—Bron never allowed some pretty abysmal rosters to preclude him from getting to the playoffs. We’re talking about a dude who routinely dragged dilapidated parts like Anderson Varejão and The Ghost of Deron Williams to the promised land, and willed the Cavs to two wins in the 2015 NBA Finals despite teammates Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love wearing street clothes.
Meanwhile, Paul put up plenty of numbers, but his Celtics weren’t exactly world-beaters prior to Garnett and Allen’s arrival. So what the fuck is he talking about?
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, Paul Pierce is a hater.
I would slam my gavel, but even he knows this already.
I rest my case.