Every NBA legend has a nemesis. Bill Russell had Wilt Chamberlain. Michael Jordan had the Detroit Pistons. And LeBron James had the Boston Celtics. Before he won his first championship, the Celtics beat his Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2008 and 2010 playoffs. In the eyes of many, this is what pushed James to join the Miami Heat. Among those who believe that? Former Celtics forward Kevin Garnett.
On an appearance on "The Bill Simmons Podcast," Garnett delved into Boston's rivalry with James and claimed that they were the reason that he landed with the Miami Heat in 2010. He argued that Boston "broke LeBron" in the 2010 playoffs, forcing him to join up with more talented players. The Celtics "didn't fear LeBron, and we didn't think that he could beat all five of us" according to Garnett.
From there, things get even wilder. Garnett goes on to suggest that the league had an agenda during the 2012 Eastern Conference finals, which led to Miami winning that series. He claimed that Dwyane Wade "tried to" break Rajon Rondo's elbow in the 2011 series between the two sides, and that relations between both teams are still frosty despite Garnett interviewing Wade on TNT in February.
As crazy as some of this sounds, it is a fairly accurate representation of what seemed to be going on between James and the Celtics on the court when the rivalry was active. It was one of the last rivalries in the NBA in which there was true animosity on both sides. While Garnett denied this, Simmons even argued that Boston pushed LeBron too far with their trash-talking during the 2012 Eastern Conference finals, and that ultimately led to the Game 6 explosion that swung the series in Miami's favor.
Ultimately we'll likely never know how true that is. If Boston did indeed break LeBron, he hasn't exactly been chatty about it, and he has little incentive to be moving forward. The Celtics wound up becoming a footnote in his story, and he has achieved so much since that revisiting the period in which he couldn't get over the hump probably doesn't make sense. We'll probably only hear Boston's perspective on this matter, but you couldn't ask for a more honest assessment of the rivalry than what Garnett provided.