Paul Pierce better not be going anywhere. This rivalry is just getting started.
As LeBron James pursues a second title after a season and playoff run in which he’s further solidified his place atop the game, one of the few questions remaining is whether the king has a true rival in the game. While a few individual stars or lone teams have held their own against James and the Heat, it’s hard to pick one who’s stood out above the rest — unless James does it for you.
When asked by NBA TV’s Ahmad Rashad who his biggest rival in the game is, James went with the team and the player who have always been there in the Eastern Conference in recent years.
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The Celtics were James’ chief foil during his most memorable tries at an NBA title, including last year, when James finally fought past them to advance the finals. Pierce, who is always in the middle of the gutsiest Boston wins, would make sense as James’ biggest foe.
James and Pierce didn’t even get to see each other in the playoffs this year, though, as Pierce and the Celtics were bounced in the first round by the Knicks. Now the Celtics are trying to figure out whether they need to ditch their aging core and rebuild, or whether Pierce and Co. have enough juice in them to challenge James and the Heat a few more times.
Either way, it appears that what looked to be a burgeoning rivalry over the past few years was, at least in the eyes of James, just that.