Paul Pierce is nicknamed “The Truth” but do his words reflect his moniker? It has been over three years since Pierce appeared on ESPN in 2019 and spoke his mind about who had a better career, him or Dwyane Wade?
“That’s easy. I can say that off the bat, that’s me,” Pierce said then. “I’m 24 or 25, and you give me LeBron James and Chris Bosh, I’d be sitting on five or six championships, easy.”
Wade took the high road when asked about Pierce’s comments– showing his respect rather than clapping back at his former Eastern Conference foe. That was the end of it. Or so we thought.
During a recent appearance on IT IS WHAT IT IS TALK, Pierce dug his feelings about Wade out of a shallow grave. His approach to this double-down rendition changed from his previous sentiments– but the point remained the same.
"“For a long time, my skills went unappreciated because I didn’t get to play with a lot of great players. And then I got to play with KG (Kevin Garnett) and Ray [Allen] past their prime. Four years earlier, you put me, Ray, and KG together–you think we’re not walking away with three chips?”-Paul Pierce"
Notice how his comments went from not playing with Wade’s championship teammates to getting his co-stars too late into their careers.
To be fair to Pierce, there is some truth to what he said. The Celtics formed their Big Three in 2007. Months later, the parade happened in Boston, Pierce’s lone Championship year. So let’s look at the four years that led up to it.
Garnett was the MVP for the 2003-04 season, the same year Wade, James, and Bosh entered the league. He led the NBA in win shares from 2003 to 2005 and rebounds per game from 2005 to 2007. Meanwhile, Allen averaged 24.6 points per game, shooting nearly 40 percent from three through those years.
Pierce wasn’t doing too bad himself, averaging 24.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 4.5 assists before Boston got him the help he needed to win a ring. So yes, had they joined forces in 2003, they could have won more championships. You essentially had the centerpiece of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Seattle SuperSonics, and Boston Celtics in one team.
It would have been great before age became a factor and the stars aligned in South Beach. Once both squads were built, they delivered some classics in the Eastern Conference playoffs, with Miami coming out on top each time.
Credits to Pierce for not getting this completely wrong. But at the end of the day, we live in reality and not through hypotheticals. Wade won three rings to Pierce’s one– so the point goes to Wade on this.
"“He got more accolades than me. Yeah, he got three championships, I got one. If you need a bucket down the stretch, who [do] you want– Wade or me? If you wanna win the game down the stretch– who [are] you giving the ball to?”-Paul Pierce"
The answer is Pierce.
The numbers don’t lie, and Pierce has seven career game-winners to Wade’s five. But Pierce answered the overarching question with this statement; who had a better career? He alluded to accolades and championships, which both matter more than game-winners in the long run. Just because Joe Johnson had more game-winners than Pierce, Wade, and James does not make him better than them.
Look no further. Pierce already solved this for us by contradicting himself. But if you want to get specific, Yahoo Sports did a tale of the tape for these two players.
Pierce barely edged Wade in games played, total points, rebounds-per-game, three-point shooting percentage, win shares, and VORP. Meanwhile, Wade leads Pierce in 16 categories, including All-Star and All-NBA Selections, All-Defense nods, scoring titles, and playoff wins.
Both men had spectacular careers. Pierce was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2021– an elite group that Wade will be joining this year. But if we compare one to the other, it’s time to put this one to bed.