Longtime rivals Paul Pierce and LeBron James will get re-acquainted Friday night in Washington, and as always, Pierce is looking forward to the matchup.
The veteran Wizards forward maintains an old school view on NBA rivalries, and says it’s a product of desperately striving for the same championship goal.
Pierce was asked to compare LeBron’s Cleveland Cavaliers to his own super-team in Boston.
Per the WaPo:
“I really think a lot of it is misunderstood,” Pierce said. “If I see LeBron walking down the street, it’s not going to be no fistfight. I got a lot of respect for him. It’s just the competitive nature of both of us, being at the same position, being on top teams for the same trophy year in and year out. That’s where that comes into play. It’s like fighting for the same girl. Why do I want to be cool with that guy? But I got total respect for him as a person. It’s just the things we go through is all on the court and that’s where we leave them.”
Pierce, in his 17th season, views James as his top individual rival and admitted he was stunned when James left Miami to return to Cleveland over the summer. […] “I was definitely surprised,” Pierce said. “I thought with the run that they had in Miami, going to four straight NBA Finals, that that wouldn’t deter him, losing in the Finals [to the San Antonio Spurs]. I thought they built something special there, but obviously Cleveland has a special place in his heart and he felt like he left something behind. But it’s good for him, it’s good for the game of basketball. It shifts the balance of power. We all know how tough it is to put together a team and try to win a championship that first year. Which makes the Eastern Conference that much wide open.”
“Our situation was just totally different,” Pierce said. “It was just like pieces to the puzzle all fit together perfectly, the chemistry on and off the court. And we came together and didn’t even think it was going to happen so quickly the way it did. And most instances it doesn’t. […] Cleveland, they have the great talent and as I always say, great players always figure it out. They got together in Miami, they figured it out. Cleveland’s going to figure it out. Ninety-nine times out of 100, the great players do. I guess you could say the one case scenario is the [2012-13] Laker team, maybe, with Dwight Howard and Kobe [Bryant]. Everybody kind of pegged them as being the champions. But overall, when you get the great players of that caliber together, they — most of the time — figure it out.”