by Chris Camello (@ccamello1)
LOS ANGELES – While on a recent edition of “NBA Countdown,” former Celtic Paul Pierce shared his list of the top-5 players of all-time, conveniently leaving off longtime rival LeBron James.
Pierce’s list included fellow Celtic legend Bill Russell, Michael Jordan, and ironically enough three Hall of Famers from the Lakers in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, and Kobe Bryant.
This certainly was more than a respectable list, however, his reasoning for leaving off King James didn’t make much sense and felt very personal.
“What has LeBron done to build up any organization from the ground up,” Pierce told the NBA Countdown crew. “When we talk about these great players, and the great players I said they’re all top-flight players…who helped build up their organizations or continued the tradition.”
“We haven’t seen that from LeBron,” Pierce continued. “He went and put together a team in Miami, he came back to Cleveland to put that team together…then he went to the Lakers, where a tradition has already been made, and that’s still to be determined.”
Where Pierce’s argument falls off is through the first seven years of his career, James single-handedly put a cellar-dwelling Cavaliers team on the map and made them a contender. Despite playing for a cheap owner, James carried Cleveland to the NBA Finals in 2007 with no second star, and in his final two seasons led them to consecutive 60-win seasons.
One could make the argument that the Celtics’ Big Three era, which included Pierce teaming up with All-Stars Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, mapped out the blueprint for James to bolt the Cavs and join up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami.
For Pierce to criticize James for joining up with other stars via free agency instead of through trades is hypocritical. A similar path led Pierce and the Celtics to be crowned champions in 2008.
Even after James and the Heat won championships in 2012 and 2013 and later in Cleveland in 2016, he always cited that 2008 Boston team for empowering him to join other stars in competing for titles. He has built up those organizations and provided championship windows even if it wasn’t organic.
Maybe The Truth is jealous of the King’s admiration from fans and media and felt slighted through the years. To leave James off the top-5 is understandable, but the reasoning is just disrespectful and flat-out salty