After nearly a decade of head-to-head battles, there is still no love lost between Paul Pierce and Lebron James. A new report that surfaced today helps explain the bitterness behind their rivalry.
According to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated, sources say Pierce holds a long-time grudge against James for reasons involving former Celtics coach Doc Rivers.
Pierce and James will never work out together like James and Kevin Durant, or discuss teaming up when both hit free agency next summer. James's constant complaining irks Pierce, as does his belief, league sources say, that James once tried to recruit Doc Rivers to Cleveland when Rivers was coaching the Celtics.
The report does not seem farfetched at all. There were rumblings back in 2011 that the Heat courted Rivers to be their head coach. Doc resisted those rumored overtures and instead signed a five-year extension with the Celtics back in May 2011.
If Pierce’s belief is accurate, it would mean Lebron’s recruitment of Rivers dated all the way back to 2010, if not before. Mike Brown was fired as Cleveland’s head coach in the summer of 2010, right before James hit free agency.
Did Lebron want Doc to coach him in Cleveland that year? Was he also trying to pry Rivers away from Boston after the Celtics’ NBA Finals run in 2010 and have him join his newly formed super team in Miami?
There are more questions than answers here, but you can understand Pierce’s agitation with any of those scenarios. Unfortunately, that ill will did not help the former Celtic captain against James last night, as the Miami superstar posted a new playoff-high 49 points in a crucial Game 4 win over the Brooklyn Nets.
The Brooklyn Nets trail the best-of-seven series 3-1 against the Heat, and Pierce is running out of chances to get even with his longtime nemesis.