Remember when Paul Pierce claimed he was better than Dwyane Wade
Paul Pierce is considered one of the all-time greats in Boston Celtics history. He was drafted 10th overall by the Celtics in the 1998 NBA Draft and did not disappoint. He has put his name alongside Larry Bird, Bob Cousy, Bill Russell, Kevin McHale, John Havlicek, K.C. Jones, Robert Parish, the list could go on and on. Pierce retired in 2017 and is a legend in Boston and an NBA all-time historic player.
But in April of 2019, he made one of the boldest claims of his life. Pierce was working for ESPN as an NBA analyst for NBA Countdown alongside Jalen Rose. It was Dwyane Wade’s final season of his career. The regular season was winding down and the Heat was not going to make the playoffs. Naturally, the ESPN crew discussed D-Wade’s place historically.
That’s when Pierce dropped the bomb, captured by CBS Sports.
Paul Pierce Famously Claims to be Better than Dwyane Wade
“That’s easy,” Pierce said. “I could say that off the bat. That’s me. If you give me Shaq, if you give me LeBron, if you give me these guys early in my career … when I was 24 years old, you give me Shaq, when I was 25, give me LeBron … I’d be sitting on five or six championships, easy. I played 10 years with who? With who?”
That prompted quite the retort from Rose, shutting down Pierce in harsh fashion.
Never forget when Paul Pierce said he was better than D-Wade… and Jalen Rose responded with this🤣 pic.twitter.com/A1Yq8sHUS8
— NBA Memes (@NBAMemes) August 7, 2022
“No backtracking. No backtracking. He (Wade) made All-NBA First Team twice, Paul hasn’t done it. He made All-NBA eight times to your four. Wade made All-Defensive Team three times to your zero. He’s won more scoring titles. You weren’t able to win a scoring title. He has three rings, you have one ring.”
It’s certainly hard to argue any of those facts. I don’t think anyone will ever debate who was the better two-way player between Pierce and Wade. Pierce was not bad defensively. In fact, Kobe Bryant often talked about how difficult it was to play against Pierce because of his physicality. Nonetheless, Wade was a premier defender for many years in the NBA.
To combat Pierce’s point of contention of playing with Shaq at 24 years old, he must be forgetting something. Shaquille O’Neal with the Miami Heat was not the same dominant Shaq we saw in Los Angeles. He was still really good, averaging over 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. But he wasn’t the 30-15 behemoth we saw with the Lakers.
But the rest of Paul Pierce’s argument likely holds some water. He obviously did not play with anyone close to as good as LeBron James during his career. The early part of Pierce’s career, Antoine Walker was the only other All-Star he played with. You would be hard pressed to remember another player from those Celtics teams. Walter McCarty comes to mind, supporting his point.
10 years into his career, he finally got elite talent on his team. Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen joined him in Boston. They immediately won the NBA Championship in 2008. They then began an NBA-record 27-2 the next season before injuries marred that season. In 2010, they reached the NBA Finals again, losing to Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in seven games.
Meanwhile, an argument can be made that Wade never won as the best player on his team. Clearly LeBron was the biggest reason for his second and third title. You can debate Shaq or Wade on the first one.
Pierce of course took a ton of flack after making the comment. But in hindsight, the two all-time greats are much closer than people realized.