Paul Pierce’s bitterness knows no bounds. In May, the former Boston Celtics star refused to include LeBron James, widely considered to be one of the two greatest players in NBA history, in his all-time starting five. Earlier this week, he bemoaned the failings of this generation with another shot at James.
“Players today are scared of LeBron,” Pierce said Friday on ESPN. “My era is out of the league. We weren’t afraid of LeBron, but these guys today, he strikes fear in these guys. I can see it.”
If players are scared of LeBron nowadays, they sure have a funny way of showing it. Nikola Jokic, the star player on James’ current opponent, the Denver Nuggets, recently said that James guarding him was a mismatch. Another player from James’ generation, Draymond Green, jumped to LeBron’s defense.
“Enjoy retirement man,” Green said on his Instagram story. “You still fear Bron. … Shut up already! We get it!”
Green, unlike Pierce, has a positive played record against LeBron. Green’s Warriors beat James’ Cavaliers in the NBA Finals three times in four tries. Pierce beat James in 2008 and 2010, but then lost to him in 2011 and 2012 with the Celtics. A 2014 loss with the Nets pushed Pierce below .500 against James in the playoffs, and the numbers are firmly in LeBron’s favor. James has more 40-point playoff games at Pierce’s home arena, TD Bank Garden (three) than Pierce himself (two).
Yet Pierce has never been able to accept the inevitable when it comes to LeBron. The rivalry from his playing days continues to color his analysis, whereas Green, still a rival to James, is able to be more objective about LeBron’s place in history, especially if he can lead his Los Angeles Lakers to a 2020 NBA title. Combine that with his stellar work on TNT during the bubble, and Green has a bright future in broadcasting.