LeBron James finally is ready to speak his truth about Paul Pierce now that they’re finished battling on the court.

The Cleveland Cavaliers superstar hailed Pierce on Monday following the former Boston Celtics forward’s retirement from the NBA, calling him a “champion” and a soon-to-be Basketball Hall of Fame inductee.

“He put his mark on this game,” James said, per Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon. “Somebody I’ve had a lot of battles with, somebody I’ve always respected and competed against and pushed me in the Eastern Conference for quite a while. A champion. His numbers and what he was able to do out on the floor speaks for itself. So I would say his next stop is the Hall of Fame. Great ride. He had a hell of a ride for sure.”

Pierce and James were fierce rivals since their teams were competing for NBA titles. In fact, Pierce’s Celtics were the last team to prevent James’ Cavaliers or Miami Heat from reaching the NBA finals, having done so in the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals.

Pierce, 39, retired Sunday after the Los Angeles Clippers lost Game 7 of their NBA playoff series with the Utah Jazz. Athletes and celebrities immediately paid tribute to Pierce for his 19-year NBA career.

James’ tribute to Pierce might be short, but his kind words prove old foes often become friends in the end.

Thumbnail photo via David Richard/USA TODAY Sports Images