If Paul Pierce is in the news these days, it's usually for one of two reasons: 1) It's the anniversary of one of his great performances; or 2) He delivered a highly questionable basketball take.
Tuesday night brought us No. 2.
During a spirited debate on ESPN's "NBA Countdown" about the best NBA players of all time, the former Boston Celtics star listed several players who weren't LeBron James.
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"Bill Russell built up the organization in Boston. He should get way more credit than we give him, and a lot of times he gets left out of the conversation," Pierce said. "So in saying that, Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar), Magic (Johnson), (Michael) Jordan, Tim Duncan, Kobe (Bryant), (Larry) Bird. These guys are all-time top 10 players who either helped build up their organization or continued the tradition."
In Pierce's view, James doesn't belong in that same conversation because he loaded his championship teams with stars rather than build them from the ground up.
"He went and put together a team in Miami, and in some ways, he came back to Cleveland to put that team together, and then he went to the Lakers, where a tradition has already been made," Pierce said.
So, is Pierce really saying James isn't one of the five best basketball players of all time? Why yes, he is.
"You wanna hear my top five? You want to hear it again?" Pierce continued. "Jordan, Kareem, Russell. And you know who the fourth one is? Magic. Now you know who’s in my top five? Kobe Bryant.
"That’s my top five. Argue with it."
The internet happily obliged, as professional athletes and casual fans alike ripped Pierce for his anti-LeBron slander.
Someone needs to give Paul Pierce a drug test. They hate on lebron and that’s he’s not top 5 is ridiculous. You can tell he still spiteful— Cam Heyward (@CamHeyward) May 20, 2020
Paul Pierce is like the Ja Rule of basketball, we respect what he did for the culture but he’s a clown https://t.co/755FgK5YsM— Trizz (@Tr1zz) May 20, 2020
Paul Pierce owes his career to Danny Ainge. Bringing in KG & Ray Allen unlocked Pierce.— Jason McIntyre (@jasonrmcintyre) May 20, 2020
3rd team All-NBA 2x before they arrived https://t.co/xCQbbo9i5Y
Paul Pierce says LeBron is not a top 5 player of all-time when he doesn’t even have half of his accomplishments. What makes things funnier is that Paul Pierce, not even a top 50 player of all-time or a top 5 Celtics player of all-time.😂😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/R6fQXfThTa— TheCoolestGuyInSports™ (@AKISNBA) May 20, 2020
Paul Pierce’s opinion on LeBron has changed quite drastically over time... pic.twitter.com/G2aMhuKmfK— 𝓜𝓪𝓽𝓽 🏀✈️🍄 - follow/like limit (@mldiffley) May 20, 2020
Paul Pierce after he gets dragged on twitter for his lebron take pic.twitter.com/D9u5xwoJvX— Philip 👺 (@phrrp) May 20, 2020
As many pointed out, Pierce isn't exactly an impartial observer: His Celtics had several playoff battles with James' Cavaliers and Heat teams, a handful of which LeBron won.
James also effectively broke up Boston's "Big Three" when he scored 31 points in Game 7 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals, as Ray Allen signed with Miami that following offseason.
So, "The Truth" may have an agenda in leaving James out of his top five -- and the internet is letting him have it.