In the spring, Pierce said he doesn’t think James should be in the running for the greatest player of all time next to Michael Jordan. Pierce also said he doesn’t believe James is one of the five best players in NBA history. “I go back and I ask myself, ‘What has LeBron done to build up any organization from the ground floor?” Pierce said back in May.
Pierce is brutally honest and critical of James, the Akron, Ohio, native and first pick in the 2003 NBA draft out of St. Vincent-St. Mary’s High School. Some might argue that Pierce might be sometimes overly critical of the two-time NBA champion.
Antoine Walker: ‘I Don’t Think He Hates LeBron’
Million Dollar Question: Does Paul Pierce hate LeBron James? “No I don’t think he hates LeBron,” retired NBA All-Star, Antoine Walker told me on today’s episode of Heavy Live with Scoop B. “I think he respects LeBron.”
Pierce and Walker were Boston Celtics teammates in the late 90s and the early 2000s.
Walker thinks that Pierce is very underrated and often doesn’t get mentioned in the same breath as players like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and, James, and that he should be.
For four out of five seasons from 2008-12, Pierce’s Celtics went toe-to-toe in the NBA playoffs against James when he was with both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat. James’ Heat got past Pierce’s Celtics in 2012 and it’s believed by some that is when James earned Pierce’s respect.
“That was our championship to walk away with,” former Celtic Ryan Hollins told me on the Scoop B Radio Podcast earlier this summer. “Until then, LeBron was seen as soft. We thought he wouldn’t show up in fourth quarters.”
Paul Pierce Would Love to Play LeBron James 1-on-1
Walker gives the James-Pierce dialogue a different spin, however.
You ready for it?
“Me knowing Paul’s competitive drive, Paul doesn’t believe LeBron’s that much better than him,” he said. “And I do believe that.”
Paul would play him one-on-one every day of the week; I guarantee you that and that’s just the competitor in him. You couldn’t tell me Kobe Bryant wouldn’t play Michael Jordan every day of the week. You know what I mean? It’s kinda that type of thing. I think sometimes with Paul, the way it comes out on TV it seems that way because I remember him commenting about [Dwyane] Wade and people got mad because of what Paul said about D-Wade. Paul believes that he’s in that category. For whatever reason he doesn’t get that notoriety that those guys get. He’s not celebrated like those guys. He is that guy.
A 10-time NBA All-Star, Pierce was the Celtics’ 10th overall pick in the 1998 NBA draft out of Kansas. Although he had stints later in his career as a member of the Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Clippers and Washington Wizards, Pierce will forever be known as a Boston Celtic. Pierce averaged 19.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game during his career and won an NBA championship in 2008 against the Bryant-led Los Angeles Lakers.
“People gotta go back and look at prime Paul Pierce,” said Walker. “And I think because he won it with KG [Kevin Garnett] and Ray [Allen] he doesn’t get the same credit as other guys. But if I remember, Paul Pierce was the MVP of the Finals, Paul Pierce was still that guy when those guys came on that team.”