In 2004, Celtics forward Paul Pierce got fined for spitting at the Cavaliers bench during a preseason game.
Why did Pierce do that?
Apparently, LeBron James.
Kendrick Perkins, via ESPN:
When LeBron was coming into the league, he was getting a lot of heat from players. “Oh he’s not going to do that to us. The Chosen One. Wait til he play against grown men.”
So, Paul is talking noise to the bench, right? He’s talking big noise to the Cavs bench. And they’re sitting over there. Bron and them, they’re all sitting over there.
Paul actually spits over there at the bench, right? The ultimate disrespect, OK?
It ended up turning up. After the game, both teams were meeting in the back. Guys was ready to fight. We had to hold people back. It went up from there.
Ever since that moment, LeBron James and Paul Pierce hate each other. They don’t speak to each other.
This was entering LeBron’s second season, not his rookie year. But Pierce was still the established star, LeBron the riser trying to prove himself. As we’ve seen since, Pierce is very protective of his place in the game.
The feud deepened over the years as Pierce’s Celtics battled LeBron’s Cavaliers and Heat in the playoffs. Pierce took other shots at LeBron, even indirectly. Most recently, Pierce named a top-five list that didn’t include LeBron.
But spitting? That’s low.
There’s just something about Boston players from that era.