A few days ago, Kendrick Perkins revealed the incident where Paul Pierce spit on the Cleveland Cavaliers bench during a 2004 pre-season game. Perkins termed it as 'disrespectful', stating that is when the LeBron James and Paul Pierce rivalry began. While James is yet to comment on the incident, Pierce confirmed the incident during an ESPN interview.
"I'm glad social media wasn't out then because I spit at they bench. I probably would've got fined." @paulpierce34 confirms @KendrickPerkins' story that him spitting toward the Cavs bench started his beef with LeBron. pic.twitter.com/k1DbLKhcQq— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) May 22, 2020
Talks about James and Pierce's rivalry began again when he left out James in his all-time NBA list. Pierce revealed that he did not think James built an organization from the bottom and had 'put together' teams in Cleveland and Miami. While their rivalry was public for a long time, but Perkins' reveal gave fans a proper timeline.
The spit incident is the earliest evidence of the Paul Pierce vs LeBron James rivalry. Perkins revealed that James was getting a lot of attention during his rookie NBA season and played one of his first games against Pierce and the Boston Celtics. Pierce was apparently talking trash to the Cavaliers bench and ended up spitting at them. Perkins referred to it as the 'ultimate disrespect' and players were ready to fight after the game. Perkins stated that from that game, both James and Pierce hated each other.
Pierce confirmed the story later, saying that it happened during a pre-season game, which did not mean anything. He remembers the trash talking with James and the bench, but was not sure if he hit someone when he spat in their direction. He only recalls meeting them in the hallway where things were about to 'go down' as everyone's tempers flared, saying it was the 'basis of everything'.
Pierce's rivalry with James went on till his retirement, where both players tried to beat each other. Initially, the Celtics beat the Cavaliers, but James joined the Miami Heat in 2011, winning the Championship and defeating Pierce.