Since joining ESPN as an NBA analyst, Paul Pierce has made a name for himself for all the wrong reasons. He’s ruffled the feathers of former players. Plus, NBA fans and the media always scrutinize his hot takes. The former Boston Celtic is disliked by many, but which of the NBA’s best players hated him the most? Has anyone stood up for this polarizing player?
Hates: Joakim Noah
When Joakim Noah played for the Bulls, Chicago had an intense rivalry with the Celtics. Although the two teams faced off in multiple playoff battles, their biggest dustup came in a 2014 preseason game. Pierce’s trash-talking led to Noah poking him in the forehead. Then, Chicago head coach Tom Thibodeau had to separate them. It made for entertaining video footage.
Hates: Kobe Bryant
The summer after the Celtics beat the Lakers in the 2008 NBA Finals, a reporter asked Pierce if Kobe Bryant was the best player in the game. Pierce replied that he was the best player and showed it during the finals.
Anyone who knows Bryant understands that his competitive intensity is beaten only by Michael Jordan, so Kobe took Pierce’s words to heart. Using the statement as motivation for their 2010 rematch, the Black Mamba easily dominated Pierce on both ends of the floor.
Hates: LeBron James
LeBron James and Pierce had plenty of heated battles while in the Eastern Conference. One memorable moment between the two players occurred during a Cavs preseason game. Pierce allegedly spit at the Cavaliers bench. A post-game incident was only avoided because Pierce’s teammates carried him out of the arena.
James and Pierce also faced off in the 2008 playoffs, when a hard foul forced both athletes into the stands and lead to a skirmish between the two. The Celtics continually got the best of James’ teams, which played a part in his classic move to Miami.
Hates: JR Smith
When Pierce was traded to the Brooklyn Nets (along with Kevin Garnett), he made a bunch of cheap shots at the New York Knicks, his hated division rival during his time in Boston.
This led to J.R. Smith firing shots back at Pierce. Smith told him that he didn’t know anything about New York City while playing in Boston his entire career. Pierce responded by calling Smith a “nobody.” The two still despise each other to this day.
Hates: Ray Allen
Following an early exit in 2012 playoffs, Ray Allen left Boston for the Miami Heat. This caused a rift between him and Pierce. The disgruntled forward stated that Allen was never a part of the Celtics “Big Three.” Pierce noted that Sam Cassell was the real third member of the trio, which critics viewed as highly disrespectful.
Hates: Deron Williams
When he arrived in Brooklyn, Pierce immediately took shots at Deron Williams. The point guard was viewed as an MVP-caliber player during his time in Utah. However, when he got to the Nets, he lacked the drive to become great.
Williams told reporters he was thick-skinned and didn’t worry about any negative comments from teammates. But you could tell the two did not get along on the court as the Nets struggled at times during Pierce’s lone season with the team.
Hates: Quentin Richardson
The person who probably hates Paul Pierce the most is former NBA player Quentin Richardson. During the 2010 NBA Playoffs, Richardson and Pierce had an alteration that involved other players. He called Pierce and Garnett “actresses” when speaking to ESPN after the game.
Loves: Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett actually met Pierce during a basketball game while they were both in high school. He’s always respected Pierce’s game, so when the two joined up in Boston, it was clear the Celtics would become a title contender.
Pierce admired Garnett’s intensity on and off. “I’ve said it a hundred times. Kevin Garnett and I were meant to be together,” he told ESPN. Not only did they win a championship, but they enjoyed a playoff berth after both players moved to the Brooklyn Nets. Their friendship is still strong to this day. Pierce and Garnett were neighbors for a time, and their kids go to the same school.