When the Eastern Conference finals open tonight, James will play his 19th career playoff game against Boston Celtics future Hall of Famer Paul Pierce. For the 19th time they will likely be each other’s primary defender. For the 19th time there’s probably going to be some hard stares, complaints to the officials about the other and perhaps even a few borderline dirty plays. "Oh, we know each other," James said. "More than any other matchup in the league. We know each other’s likes and dislikes."
As the author states, there have been manufactured "rivalries" between James and Carmelo Anthony or Kobe Bryant, but the one with Pierce developed over time naturally. And when James finally got past the Celtics last year, he and his mates celebrated joyously. It was as if James thought he was playing the role of his own personal Pistons getting past the Celtics of the 80's.
Well, that didn't work out so well in the Finals last year and here we go again, with Pierce standing in his way.
"[Pierce] is the closest thing to a rival, if LeBron has one," Wade said. "They make it tough on each other."
"I don't think it is like or dislike, it is what it is," Pierce said. "He's been on some great teams, I've been on some great teams and we've had to face one another. After awhile it became a mutual respect for the things he's done in this league and the things I've done in this league."
James is the league MVP and he has Wade on his side, but Pierce has the ring from 2008 and he's got a 3 stars on his side. They are ready to write another chapter in this rivalry.