Celtics Legend Speaks on LeBron Rivalry: ‘Somebody Gotta Be the Villain’

Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics

Getty Paul Pierce at the TD Garden

It’s no secret that Paul Pierce and LeBron James have no love lost between them on the basketball court, as the pair faced off for numerous battles when the Boston Celtics faced the Cleveland Cavaliers in both the regular season and in the playoffs.

However, regardless of the pair having numerous heated battles, Pierce believes their off-court rivalry has been blown out of proportion. Speaking to Michelle Beadle on the What Did I Miss? podcast, Pierce explained how his negative comments are the only comments people remember.

“People just hear the some of the negative things I have said about LeBron, but they don’t hear the positive things I say about LeBron because, you know, negativity sticks. Negativity always going to stick. I already said he’s second behind Jordan, but people don’t hear that.”

Despite Pierce’s previous comments on the self-proclaimed king, the Celtics legend maintains that he’s always respected James off the court, “They look at the battles we had, so what? Am I supposed to like a guy—no, I didn’t like nobody on the court. Do I respect him? Of course, I respect what he’s done for the game, the longevity he has been able to provide and the shows he’s been able to give us, the spectacular athleticism over the years, of course, I respect that, and I honor that.”

Pierce Sounds Off: ‘No One Likes the Boston Celtics’

It’s true; the Celtics aren’t everybody’s favorite team. In fact, most people take great pleasure in watching them struggle. When you’ve got a history as dominant and illustrious as Boston’s, people prefer to see you fail than succeed; Pierce understood this and embraced his role as the villain in the eyes of most NBA fans.

“Listen, no one likes the Boston Celtics, anyway, and I’ve been the face of the Boston Celtics all these years, one of the most hated franchises, the most respected. Yeah, of course, America’s teams have always been like Lakers, San Antonio, and Bulls. They got mad respect. Somebody gotta be the villain if you’re gonna have all these superheroes,” Pierce told Michelle Beadle.

While Pierce can understand being disliked for his comments on James or being one of the greatest players in Celtics history, he feels that the current generation of NBA fans is giving him some unfair treatment.

“This new generation is pretty dumb. They don’t do their research. They listened to some of the stuff I said on ESPN about LeBron and Dwyane Wade and all that, and they don’t understand that’s just TV. I got a lot of hate off of that. If they really did the research, they would know. But it’s just this new generation getting caught into hot topics and Internet and TV talk and all that stuff. They hate you, but whatever, I’ve always been the villain. I can live with that.”

Pierce & LeBron Went to Battle 69 Times

According to StatHead, Pierce and James have done battle 69 times, with 30 of those games being in the playoffs. Of the 39 regular-season games the pair faced off, Pierce won 21 of them while averaging 20.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 3.9 assists. On the other hand, James had 29.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 6.5 assists over the same stretch of games.

Despite Pierce’s favorable regular-season record against James, the playoffs tell a different story. Over a 30 game period, Pierce won 13 times while averaging 17 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.8 assists on shooting splits of 39.2% from the field, 33.3% from deep, and 82.4% from the line. Whilst James dominated, winning 17 contests on 29.1 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game.

It’s pretty clear which player has had the better career between these two stars, yet, it would be shocking to hear that they don’t respect each other off the court. After all, game recognizes game.

LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers recently fell to defeat against the Boston Celtics, with Pierce watching from the stands at the TD Garden. The Celtics will be in action again on Wednesday, November 24th, when they face off against the Brooklyn Nets as they look to keep their current win streak alive.

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