(CBSLA) — Paul Pierce is an NBA legend known best for his long tenure with the Boston Celtics. During those 15 seasons, he was an NBA All-Star 10 times over and led the Celtics to an NBA Finals win in 2008 (over the Los Angeles Lakers), taking home the series MVP in the process. Pierce left Boston in 2013 and bounced around to a few teams before retiring four years later.
However, the surefire Hall of Famer actually grew up a Lakers fan who hated the Celtics. Coming out of Kansas, Pierce would have much preferred to play in LA. He discusses all this (and so much more) on Episode 20 of Showtime Basketball’s video podcast All The Smoke With Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson.
Pierce moved to Inglewood as a teenager and attended Inglewood High School. Believe it or not, he didn’t make the school’s varsity basketball team initially. But he went on to be the team’s leading scorer and a McDonald’s All-American.
“I have a Lakers sweater I used to wear everyday to school,” Pierce remembered. “It was a hoodie. Who could not be a Laker fan? I grew up right down the street from the Forum, right there in Inglewood, watching Magic. I hated the Celtics. You from LA, let alone Inglewood, where the Forum is, of course you’re a Laker fan. How could you not be? So that’s what makes it real ironic when I was drafted to the Celtics.
The Lakers and Celtics split their NBA Finals matchups during Pierce’s time in Boston. The Lakers won 4-3 in 2010, while the Celtics won 4-3 in 2008. The Lakers racked up seven NBA Finals appearances during that time (winning five), while the Celtics managed only two.
That particular era of Lakers greatness can be credited, in part, to Kobe Bryant. The 18-time NBA All-Star and two-time Finals MVP recently passed away in a tragic helicopter crash. Bryant and Pierce had a unique relationship, as the former Celtic saw it.
“I played mad against everybody, but him,” said Pierce. “We always just had a different type of relationship. I think it was more out of respect too. Everybody else, I pretty much couldn’t care less about. It seemed that way, off the court. Just to have the opportunity to match up with him, know him on-and-off the court was special. It made me who I am, pretty much.”