There aren’t going to be many people that can argue that Miami Heat forward LeBron James is not the best basketball player in the world. After coming off his second championship season with a couple MVPs thrown in for good measure, James seems to be the most driving force in the league, both now and for years to come. Just because he’s the best, doesn’t mean he is invincible, however.
This isn’t some theory I personally formulated for myself. Ask James, and he’ll tell you. For all the accolades and awards the man has racked up, he still doesn’t like to deal with Brooklyn Nets forward, Paul Pierce. While never really thinking of himself as one rival, James said if he had to have one, it’s Pierce. When a rookie James was trying to drag the Cleveland Cavaliers to some sort of relevancy, it was Paul Pierce who shooed him from the playoffs, often scoring ridiculous numbers to match LeBron’s.
Their battles continued from James’ rookie season until this very day. After Pierce won a championship in 2008, some say LeBron left for Miami in order to get past Pierce’s Boston Celtics. James’ departure from his former team proved to be the turning point in his career. He blew past the Celtics in 2011, and squeaked by in a controversial 7 game series in 2012.
It seems as though history repeats itself. Unable to get the upper hand on his rival’s excellent new team, Pierce was traded to the Nets over the summer.
Anyone else see a pattern?
Pierce’s team was too much for LeBron until he left to join some other stars. Pierce was then overwhelmed by the super group and with no end in sight, was traded to Brooklyn with — you guessed it — some other stars.
After all the struggling over the years, it seems as now that the dust has settled, Pierce and James are eye to eye, both headlining their star studded teams for control over the East. At first, James needed stars to get past Pierce. Then James needed youth to get past James. Both men have their wish and are situated on teams that some say are primed for an unforgettable playoff battle.
Should all come to fruition and the Nets not end up like the Los Angeles Lakers 2.0 by actually working as a group, and the Heat maintain their success in the East, we are in for some of the best LeBron-Pierce battles we’ve seen in a while. The trash talking that has been done lately, subtle or otherwise, has only added more fuel to the fire.
Had Pierce not joined the Nets, he may have had to fade off into obscurity, only to watch James tear through the season yet again. He wouldn’t be the wily vet that gets the upper hand, but the washed-up star on a team with nothing that could be done to help him.
However, now that Pierce has maintained competitiveness with Brooklyn, the final chapter in a compelling rivalry is about to be written. When Pierce and LeBron play, anyone watching wins.