What's with the animosity between Paul Pierce and LeBron James?
We know Pierce's Boston Celtics had some heated playoff battles with James' Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat back in the day and that Pierce doesn't consider LeBron a top-five NBA player, but is there more to the story here?
According to Kendrick Perkins, there certainly is.
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Perkins, who played with Pierce in Boston and James in Cleveland, joined ESPN's "Hoop Streams" on Thursday to reveal that the Pierce-LeBron beef goes all the way back to the preseason of James' rookie year, when the Cavs opened against the Celtics.
"When LeBron was coming into the league, he was getting a lot of heat from players. ... 'The Chosen One?' Wait 'til he play against grown men,' " Perkins recalled. "So, his first preseason game is against Paul Pierce."
"Paul is talking noise to the bench, right? 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."
Needless to say, James didn't appreciate being spit at.
"It ended up turning up," Perkins said. "After the game, both teams were meeting in the back. Guys was ready to fight.
" ... Ever since that moment, LeBron James and Paul Pierce hate each other. They don’t speak to each other even now, today.”
Pierce and James met in four playoff series over a five-year span between 2008 and 2012, which surely added fuel to their rivalry. (The Celtics went 2-0 against James' Cavs but 0-2 against James' Heat.)
But Perkins' insight explains why there's a different level of hatred between The Truth and The King -- and why Pierce and his ex-Celtics teammates still hold a grudge against Ray Allen for joining James in Miami in 2012.