The Celtics Didn't Break LeBron James, But They Helped Make Him Who He Is Today

Liam McKeone
Paul Pierce and LeBron James
Paul Pierce and LeBron James / Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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There's a whole lot of hubbub on the Twitterverse today about Kevin Garnett's comments to Bill Simmons on the BS Podcast that released earlier today. For those of you who have better things to do than stare at Tweetdeck all day, Garnett said the Celtics "broke" LeBron James.

"We broke LeBron. So get your ass out of here with that," said Garnett. "You remember how he got to Cleveland, how he got to Miami, Bill? You remember that? So stop bringing that up."

Now, claiming you broke the greatest player of this generation en route to a Finals loss to the Lakers is quite the statement. It's not like LeBron went home a shattered man after losing to Boston in the playoffs again.

HOWEVER. I don't think it's crazy, by any means, to argue that version of the Celtics transformed LeBron into the player he is today, both in 2010 and 2012. Garnett's tone when talking about how LeBron ended up in Miami indicates he does not think highly of the move, but Garnett waving his no-trade clause to end up in Boston is what allowed Danny Ainge to execute the Ray Allen trade to create the first modern Big 3, a concept that came to define the next decade of NBA basketball. Without that Celtics team, does LeBron even consider the idea of forming his own Big 3? He might, but it's no sure thing-- especially since his path to the Finals with the Cavs was blocked by those Celtics time and time again.

Nobody can say anything about LeBron's clutch factor and ability to win championships now, but back in the early 2010s, that's all anyone talked about. This was especially the case leading up to the 2012 season, when LeBron folded in the 2011 Finals and everyone was starting to wonder if he just wasn't made to win on the biggest stage, even with all the help he had.

That noise was never louder than when the Celtics went up 3-2 against Miami in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals. Boston, once again, pushed LeBron to the brink, daring him to prove everyone wrong. He didn't in 2010. But, as we all know now, he did in 2012, going Zero Dark LeBron and giving us one of the more frightening images in recent NBA history.

It was the moment The King finally responded to the adversity. Would LeBron have the resume he has now without those Celtics playing the perfect foil? Almost definitely. His talent and skill is far too high to say that he wouldn't have achieved these same heights. But in every origin story for all superheroes (and, love him or hate him, LeBron is indeed a superhero), they have to overcome the big baddie to realize their true potential. Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen were the big baddies.

So, no. The Celtics did not break LeBron James. Sorry, KG. But without them, LeBron may not have traveled the path he did.

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