Tell that to Paul Pierce, he’s persistent.
You may remember a very strange and one-sided debate years ago in which a Boston Celtics Hall of Famer went on ESPN and insisted that he had a better career than Dwyane Wade. The most interesting moment was when Jalen Rose went to the numbers and blurted out a series of numbers that deduced from Peirce’s argumentin Pierce’s face.
This was in 2019. Now, in 2023, Pierce hit the drum again without issue during an appearance on the Cam’Ron talk show That’s What It Is. He put forward his familiar arguments that Wade benefited from having several Hall of Famer teammates — Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James and Chris Bosh — in his prime, and that he wasn’t as good a shot as Pierce.
“Get Shaq on my team. Get LeBron and Bosh with me. Am I going to win none? If you put me, LeBron and Bosh, we won’t win any? We won’t win a pair? Who’s the better three-pointer?
“For a long time my skills weren’t valued because I didn’t get to play with a lot of great players,” Pearce continued. “And then I had to play with KG and Ray. [Allen] past their heyday. Four years ago, when you brought me, Ray, and K.G. together, do you think we won’t leave with three ships?
Obviously this is a stupid argument, just conceptual. Both Wade and Pierce have had illustrious careers, are in the Hall of Fame and can enjoy the life associated with that status. However, it’s up to Pearce to point it out again, so let’s take another look at the numbers, although even this is still a limited view of what makes a “better career”.
Case of Paul Pierce v. Dwyane Wade
We’ll do this lightning round with all the stats taken from the Basketball Reference.
Championships: Wade 3Pier 1
All-Star nods: Wade 13Pier 10
All-NBA (first team): Wade 2Pier 0
All-NBA (any team): Wade 8Pier 4
All-Defense (any team): Wade 3Pier 0
Honorable titles: Wade 1Pier 0
Games played: Wade 1054, Pier 1343
Points per game: Wade 22.0Pier 19.7
Total points: Wade 22,365 Pier 26 397
Rebounds per game: Wade 4.7 Pier 5.6
Assists per game: Ford 5.4, Pier 3.5
Steals per game: Wade 1.5Pier 1.3
Blocks per game: Wade 0.8Pierce 0.6
Field goal %: Wade 48.0Pier 44.5
3-Point Shooting Percentage: Wade 29.3 Pier 36.8
Real shooting: Wade .554, Pierce 0.568
Playoff games: Wade 177Pier 170
Playoff wins: Wade 105Pier 87
Playoff points per game: Wade 22.3Pier 18.7
Winning shares: Wade 120.7, Pier 150
Win rate/48 minutes: Wade 0.162Pierce .157
Box plus/minus: Wade 5.0Pier 3.7
VORP: Wade 62.8, Pier 65.5
Hopefully this should give a more detailed picture of what we’re talking about here. It seems certain that Wade did better, both in the win column and in recognition from his peers and observers. There may be something to Pierce’s argument that he’s the “top scorer” in terms of his shooting percentage, but also a lot of his best numbers come from playing three more seasons.
The beauty of this argument is that it is so subjective that it cannot be refuted. If you want to argue that Pierce’s Hall of Famer teammates are past their peak and give him hypothetical championship titles if he had Shaq or James and decide that stats count is more important than stats per game or playoff success, then you’re more powerful.
You, in this case, are clearly Paul Pierce.