The former Celtics Big Three of Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce have each left Boston, but the trio is still involved in a war of words. On Thursday, LeBron James defended his Miami Heat teammate Allen while calling out Garnett and Pierce, who have since been traded to the Brooklyn Nets.
UPDATE: Friday, Oct. 18, at 12:40 a.m. ET
ESPN's Mike Mazzeo has Pierce and Garnett's response to LeBron's comments:
"Tell LeBron to worry about Miami. It has nothing to do with Celtic business," Garnett said in response to James, who previously expressed thoughts that KG and Nets small forward Paul Pierce should apologize for hypocritically criticizing Heat sharpshooter Ray Allen for leaving the Boston Celtics when they departed for Brooklyn.
"I left Boston?" Pierce said when asked of James' comments, clearly noting he'd been dealt by the Celtics and didn't leave as a free agent.
---End of update---
James made some strong comments, per ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst, before Thursday night's preseason matchup between the Heat and Nets in Brooklyn:
In short, James seemingly thinks a couple of Allen's former Celtics teammates in particular owe Allen an apology. Here is what James had to say, according to Windhorst:
I think the first thing I thought was, 'Wow, Ray got killed for leaving Boston, and now these guys 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.
Fellow Heat superstar Dwyane Wade, meanwhile, took a different tone with Windhorst when discussing the situation, saying, "We all know the world, how it works. The biggest thing is Ray is happy [in Miami]. If they're happy in Brooklyn, then let them be happy."
After spending five seasons and winning a title in Boston, Allen jumped ship to the rival Heat in free agency before the 2012-13 season. The move came just months after Miami knocked Boston out of the Eastern Conference Finals en route to winning the championship. With Allen reportedly taking less money to join the enemy, his move wasn't welcomed by the Celtics.
Garnett claimed to lose Allen's phone number, while giving him the cold shoulder in their first meeting as adversaries last season:
Doc Rivers, meanwhile, expressed great frustration after Allen's departure.
But unlike Allen, Garnett and Pierce didn't necessarily choose to leave Boston. They were traded away as part of a massive overhaul to the Celtics organization, while joining a Nets team with Deron Williams and Brook Lopez to form the latest "superteam" in the East. Rivers, too, was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers as part of Boston's offseason changes.
It's understandable that James is sticking up for his teammate and pointing out the perceived hypocrisy in the entire situation. But while Garnett did waive his no-trade clause to move to Brooklyn, Allen made a conscious choice to leave Boston. So the circumstances are slightly different.
While James' comments might reignite a dying flame, it does make for some interesting storylines heading into the season. The Heat and Nets have the makings of an instant rivalry—one fans get to watch on Nov. 1 when the two teams first face off in the regular season at the Barclays Center.