COMMENTARY | If anyone knows about the limits of loyalty, LeBron James does.
Some call LeBron's recent comments a jab at the future Hall of Famers. And that might be, but I can think of three reasons why the drawing of first blood is good for the game:
"No love-fests" sell tickets
The back story about this war of the words involves ex-Celtic Ray Allen, who defected to the Heat last season. His departure was soon followed by cries of disloyalty, similar to the hoopla LeBron James received, although less benign, when he left the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Garnett said he "lost" Allen's telephone number and Pierce downplayed the significance of Allen's departure. And get this: Both veterans, in a show of loyalty, suggested they were Celtics for life.
Fast forward to Wednesday, James chatted with Brian Windhorst at ESPN and didn't mince his words over a bit of hypocrisy.
"I think the first thing I thought was 'wow, Ray got killed for leaving Boston and now these guys (Pierce, Garnett and Jason Terry) are leaving Boston.
"I think it's OK, I didn't mind it. But there were a couple guys who basically (expletive) on Ray for leaving and now they're leaving. That's the nature of our business, man. I don't know what Boston was going through at the end of the day. I know Ray had to make the best decision for him and his family and his career. Doc, KG and Paul did that as well. You can't criticize someone who does something that's best for their family."
Pierce later cosigned Garnett's stance on the matter and was astounded that word on the street is he bailed on the franchise. Instead, both he and KG -- who says LeBron should " worry about Miami" -- suggested their departures were a combination of things, mostly out other control, which led to them being dealt to the Nets.
One thing that directly benefits from a verbal skirmish in teams and players with notable histories is the franchise they're loyal to.
I've not heard of a department head whose sole purpose is to orchestrate feuds between players, but I wouldn't be surprised if a VP of Animosity exists.
It's Marketing 101.
All the while this back and forth over Ray Allen and badges of honor gibberish is going on, it reminds me of how boxers stand nose-to-nose after weighing in and try to intimidate one another.
I don't know about you, but for a moment, I got old school and acted like the kid in the crowd trying to egg two people to duke it out, bracing for Garnett and James to knuckle up.
LeBron James and trash-talking a must to "Be Like Mike"
That said, coming to blows in the literal sense may be good for boxing, but it has no place in the NBA. However, the element of trash-talking is right at home. In fact, who was among the best trash-talkers in the NBA during his prime? Here's a guess: first name Michael, last name Jordan.
MJ would not only beat his opponents on the court with moves that left them babbling, but he'd also annihilate them by getting in their heads.
Except for his brawl with Reggie Miller in 1993 -- and maybe a few other tiffs -- His Airness let his game do the talking. In other words, he was a scorer, not a fighter. However, a good brouhaha can spice things up every now and then, right?
I'm not suggesting players result to dirty play, but talking smack sure gets the party started and can elevate one's game.
Jordan did it back in the day and Kobe Bryant is carrying the torch. Ironically, LeBron James is not known for talking smack. But if he is really chasing MJ's legacy and desires to get " closer to Michael Jordan," he has to raise his verbal fisticuffs game.
The Case for the better "Big Three" gets settled
Before Boston's reorganization -- and that's putting things lightly -- Garnett, Pierce and Rajon Rondo were considered the Celtics' Big Three.
Now, Miami faces two of its Boston nemeses with Pierce and Garnett joining forces with Deron Williams, compliments of the major moves the Nets made in the offseason.
LeBron has reason to have disdain for the former Celtics players. They bumped heads with James on many occasions and the lack of love between them is now part of the Miami Heat franchise.
The polarizing attacks among the players this season gives fans a chance to settle the score over what team has the better Big Three.
Assuming Williams stays healthy, Jason Kidd loses the battle with KG over limiting his minutes and both Wade and Bosh overcome their leg woes, I'd say the battle is set and time will tell.
Pierce and Garnett have a lot riding on denying Miami another championship and getting one of their own in the wake of the Boston breakup is priceless.
Let the lip-smacking begin.
Bradley is a professional writer, journalist, sportswriter and avid fan of the NBA, NFL, NCAA, PGA and tennis. He keeps a watchful eye on Miami Heat and Miami Dolphins developments.
- Sports & Recreation
- LeBron James
- Kevin Garnett
- Ray Allen
- Miami Heat
- Paul Pierce
- Boston Celtics