Paul Pierce doesn’t see Lakers as ‘legit’ contenders due to LeBron James’ age

Brad Sullivan
3 Min Read

Hall of Famer Paul Pierce is dismissing the Los Angeles Lakers’ title chances for the coming season, citing LeBron James’ age and other factors in his assessment.

Pierce appeared on former teammate Kevin Garnett’s podcast and explained (at the 16:00 mark) his thoughts on the matter.

“I’m not seeing the Lakers as a legit contender,” Pierce said. “For one, LeBron is a year older. Yeah, he averaged 30, but how much longer can he do that? And now you’re gonna put that pressure on him at the age of 37, 38 to go out there and help carry A.D. (Anthony Davis). He can’t stay healthy. But then who the other moving pieces? Who your role players?”

James will turn 38 around the end of December and has struggled with injuries in three of his four seasons with the Lakers. In two of those three seasons, the Lakers failed to reach the postseason, and they made a quick playoff exit during the other campaign.

However, when healthy, James can still make major contributions on the court. In 56 games for the Lakers last season, James averaged 30.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.1 blocks per game.

Numbers like those offer a major boost to the Lakers, especially if James is able to avoid the injury woes that have kept him off the court at times.

Besides James’ injuries, the Lakers’ success during the past two seasons has been severely compromised by injuries to Davis. Like James, Davis has put up numbers over the course of his career that will likely eventually lead to induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Back in 2020, a healthy James and Davis helped lead the Lakers to the franchise’s first NBA title in a decade. James’ efforts on that behalf resulted in his selection as NBA Finals MVP.

It’s also not terribly surprising to learn that Pierce believes the Lakers’ supporting unit will be an issue as well this season.

A Contentious Past

Those with a knowledge of the past between Pierce and James may attribute the Hall of Famer’s comments as a way to take a jab at James.

Back in 2004, James and Pierce nearly engaged in a fight after a preseason game. More recently, Pierce criticized James during the 2020 postseason, which led to a rebuke from James’ former teammate Kendrick Perkins.

With regard to James, he’s not likely to respond to Pierce’s comments. In the past, he’s used these types of remarks as motivation, a strategy that’s served him well.

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Brad is a freelance writer for, who can clearly recall watching Lakers games in 1972 as they captured the first of their 11 Los Angeles-based titles. The franchise's evolution into a beloved and iconic franchise among its fan base since that memorable year allows for a wider perspective to be a part of his writing about the team's current fortunes.