I get that Pierce is a bit cocky on TV and isn’t exactly the humblest guy you’ll ever meet, but can we put all that aside for now and actually examine who had the better career?
Dwyane Wade is adored and always has been throughout his career for obvious reasons too. He’s a cool guy, a natural role model for kids, and even made people’s magazines top 50 most beautiful people in 2005. Pierce, on the other hand, is almost the complete opposite, the younger generation of players never looked up to him, or respected him for that matter, Pierce, however, didn’t care. Paul never seemed interested in post-game handshakes or jersey swaps, was never one to compliment an up and coming player, and by all accounts was far less approachable then D-Wade. In other words, Wade was friendly and Pierce was not.
Right now the debate about who had the better career is so lopsided in the public’s eye, that if you even dare to suggest that Pierce had the better career you are in danger of being cussed at, laughed at, ridiculed or mocked. But since this is a safe space (literally my website) I’m going to say it right here “Paul Pierce had a better career then Dwyane Wade!”
I know I might have just triggered you, but please bear with me.
Both of them started to show signs of declining at age 31, so let’s take a look at what they both did from ages 31-37 (not including Pierce’s time with the Clippers.)
Wade, from the 2012/2013 season up until his final season had a total of 7079 points. Pierce totalled 8954 points from the 2008/2009 season to the 2014/2015 season.
I could argue too that Pierce had a better prime too. Let’s assume both of their primes were from ages 24-30. Take a guess who is who below.
Wade’s on the left and Paul is on the right. Wade had 12,145 points, Pierce 12,656. The comeback argument for Wade is that he was often injured and if he didn’t get injured he would of have blown Pierce away. But you can’t really say that because Pierce missed some time too, during the 2006/2007 season Paul missed 35 games.
Both of them have three impressive 2000 point seasons and I’m not going to argue that Pierce had a better single season then Wade. But what I value the most is consistency. In all but one of Pierce’s prime years did he have less than 1500 points. Wade failed to score more than 1500 points 3 times during that span. Remember the question is who had the better career not who had the better season.
Pierce is from the pre-digital era, his game was never flashy, and he never had the opportunity to play with a hall of Famer early in his career. Unlike Pierce Wade inherited Shaq when he was just 23, and yes Shaq was still Shaq, particularly in his first year with the Heat. Shaq narrowly lost out on the MVP that season to Steve Nash, Averaging 23 and 10. When Shaq joined the heat the media followed him and as a result, the media took a liking to the outgoing D Wade.
If you follow the NBA, you’d know that the NBA media really only follows a handful of teams. I’ve always felt like some players become overrated because they play for teams that are always in the spotlight. Would Nick Young have been this popular if he never played for the Lakers? What about Lonzo Ball? Or JR Smith? When Wade’s teams were in the spotlight they did well, meaning when he had other good players around him he was able to succeed and do well in the playoffs. But people often overlook the fact that Wade only won two playoff series without James or Shaq. In fact, Wade lost three straight first-round series during his prime. One of Pierce’s greatest accomplishments in my mind was reaching the Eastern confrence finals in 2002.
I don’t care so much about who had more rings, because rings are a reflection of who your teammates are. I could argue in 2010 that the Celtics were only one or two plays away from beating the Lakers in game 7. I could also make the case that the Heat got lucky against the Spurs in 2013 and had it not been for Ray Allen D Wade would be sitting with only 2 rings instead of 3. If the Celtics were to have won in 2010 Pierce would of most likely won finals MVP. But that’s enough of the “what if’s” because I know you guys don’t like what if’s.
Pierce shouldn’t have to defend his career his numbers should speak for themselves, but unfortunately having good numbers is not enough, you have to be likeable to the public. Kareem Abdul Jabbar reminds me of Paul Pierce. Young people in particular actually think Magic Johnson was the best player on the Lakers. Even though Kareem literally has the most points scored in the history of the NBA, he’s ahead of everyone MJ, Wilt, Lebron you name it. But people like Magic Johnson more because he’s charismatic, he’s flashier, he’s cooler. Magic represented everything about LA. So guess who was the first to get their own statue outside of Staples center? Of course, it was Magic. As a result, Kareem took to Twitter to voice his displeasure with the Lakers saying that he had felt slighted and mistreated by the organization for years. I don’t think Kareem first response was to lash out right away I believe he had been holding things back for years, and this finally did him in. He had finally had enough, he was tired of being disrespected because he wasn’t cool enough, tired of not being mentioned in the same category as MJ or Wilt, tired of being an afterthought.
I see the same thing happening right now with Pierce right now. Paul’s been posting highlight videos from his earlier playing days on his Instagram. Hoping people will see just how great he truly was. Is it working? No not at all it’s coming across as petty. But if you were an NBA champion, 15th all-time in scoring and someone asked you if you were better than D Wade what would you do?
You would tell the Truth.