Former Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce faced heavy criticism on social media after he opted to leave out Lakers star LeBron James from his list of the top five greatest players in NBA history. Pierce claimed LeBron James was never around when building an organisation and needs stars to help him win championships. Known to be hated rivals when Pierce was still in the NBA, the rivalry between Pierce and LeBron stems from the infamous spitting incident from 2004.
Former NBA star Kendrick Perkins, who played with both LeBron James and Paul Pierce, delved into some of the details of the 'Paul Pierce spit at Cavs bench' incident and how it bred an intense hatred between the two. Speaking to ESPN, Kendrick Perkins said, "Paul (Pierce) is talking noise to the bench, right?. He’s talking big noise to the Cavs bench, and they’re sitting over there, Bron (LeBron James) and them, they’re all sitting over there. Paul actually spits over there at the bench, right? The ultimate disrespect.” Kendrick Perkins believes Paul Pierce omitted LeBron James from his list out of personal bias. "Ever since that moment, LeBron James and Paul Pierce hate each other," he added." They don’t speak to each other. Even now, today.”
The infamous incident took place during a 2004 preseason game between Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics. LeBron James, who just came off his rookie season with the Cavaliers, was pitted against Pierce for much of the game. Paul Pierce mostly enjoyed a great game going up against a young LeBron James. However, LeBron was equally adept in the game, which soon turned into an aggressive face-off. The Celtics star appeared to be furious with LeBron and started screaming at him. He went on to spit at the Cavaliers bench, which almost resulted in a physical altercation between LeBron James and Paul Pierce. The NBA fined Pierce $15,000 for his actions.
While the incident was resolved in the court itself, till date Paul Pierce and LeBron James harbour hatred for each other, which Perkins confirmed. Here's how Perkins reacted to Pierce omitting LeBron James from his list of the greatest NBA players of all time.
Paul Pierce my BROTHER I love til the Casket close and I can understand if LeBron James is not your GOAT but for him not to be on your Top 5 All-Time list is just Blasphemy!!!!— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) May 20, 2020
Paul Pierce picked Michael Jordan as his greatest of all time with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant rounding off the top five.
After posting his top five on Instagram, the former Celtics star further added salt to the wound when he named Shaquille O'Neal and Tim Duncan in his top seven.
All the people I named where part of a dynasty 🤷🏾♂️#6 Shaq #7 Duncan— Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34) May 20, 2020