LeBron James could sip Sam Adams with a big bowl of clam chowder while wearing a “BOSTON STRONG” T-shirt, and his reception from Celtics fans still would be antagonistic — at best.
That’s OK with the two-time defending NBA champion, though, because while he may not like Boston’s rabid fans, he does respect them.
Unlike his teammate Dwyane Wade, who said in training camp that the Heat’s rivalry with the Celtics will “transfer well” to the new-look Brooklyn Nets, James thinks Miami’s rivalry with Boston had to do with more than just the presence of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. There is no Heat-Nets rivalry like the former Heat-Celtics rivalry, according to James, until the Barclays Center crowd matches the intensity of the TD Garden inhabitants.
“[W]ith the Boston rivalry, not only were you playing against those guys [Pierce and Garnett], you were playing against their fans, too,” James told NBA.com’s David Aldridge. “And there are not too many fans that can compete with Boston — probably the Palace of Auburn Hills when it was rocking, as far as animosity or hatred.
“Brooklyn doesn’t have that. Obviously, they have great fans, but Boston has that hatred. You kind of inherit not only going against those guys, but you inherit going against those fans as well.”
The only thing better than a rocking Garden, James said, was a Garden seized in stunned silence.
“Absolutely,” he said. “It’s great when you can silence them. It’s hard to silence the Garden, I’ll tell you that.”
For one of the few times James has silenced Celtics fans, check out his unforgettable dunk on Jason Terry below.