Paul Pierce once again insists he had a better career than Dwyane Wade

Say this for Paul Pierce, he is persistent.

You might remember from a few years ago a very odd and one-sided debate in which the Boston Celtics Hall of Famer went on ESPN and insisted he had a better career than Dwyane Wade. The most entertaining moment was when Jalen Rose went to the numbers and rattled off a series of numbers that took the air out of Pierce’s argument, to Pierce’s face.

That was in 2019. Now, in 2023, Pierce had no problem banging that drum again during an appearance on Cam’Ron’s “It Is What It Is” talk show. He threw out his familiar arguments, that Wade benefited from having multiple Hall of Fame teammates — Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James and Chris Bosh — in their primes and wasn’t as good a shooter as Pierce.

Pierce’s argument:

“Put Shaq on my team. Put LeBron and Bosh with me. I’m not gonna win one? You put me, LeBron and Bosh, we not gonna win one? We not gonna win a couple? Who’s the better 3-point shooter? Is he a better scorer? OK, he averaged more points than me career. I can shoot the 3. I can mid-range. I can post up. I can get to the line. Who a better scorer?

“For a long time, my skills went unappreciated because I didn’t get to play with a lot of great players,” Pierce continued. “And then I got to play with KG and Ray [Allen] past their prime. Four years earlier, you put me, Ray, and KG together, you think we ain’t walking away with three ‘ships?”

Obviously, this is a silly argument, just conceptually. Both Wade and Pierce had great careers, are in the Hall of Fame and can enjoy the life that comes with that status. It is Pierce, however, who needs to poke this again, so let’s once again look at the numbers, though even that is still a limited viewpoint into what makes a “better career.”

The case of Paul Pierce v. Dwyane Wade

We’ll do this lightning round style, with all stats coming from Basketball Reference.

  • Championships: Wade 3, Pierce 1

  • All-Star nods: Wade 13, Pierce 10

  • All-NBA (first team): Wade 2, Pierce 0

  • All-NBA (any team): Wade 8, Pierce 4

  • All-Defense (any team): Wade 3, Pierce 0

  • Scoring titles: Wade 1, Pierce 0

  • Games played: Wade 1,054, Pierce 1,343

  • Points per game: Wade 22.0, Pierce 19.7

  • Total points: Wade 22,365, Pierce 26,397

  • Rebounds per game: Wade 4.7, Pierce 5.6

  • Assists per game: Wade 5.4, Pierce 3.5

  • Steals per game: Wade 1.5, Pierce 1.3

  • Blocks per game: Wade 0.8, Pierce 0.6

  • Field goal %: Wade 48.0, Pierce 44.5

  • 3-point shooting %: Wade 29.3, Pierce 36.8

  • True shooting: Wade .554, Pierce .568

  • Playoff games: Wade 177, Pierce 170

  • Playoff wins: Wade 105, Pierce 87

  • Playoff points per game: Wade 22.3, Pierce 18.7

  • Win shares: Wade 120.7, Pierce 150

  • Win shares/48 minutes: Wade .162, Pierce .157

  • Box plus/minus: Wade 5.0, Pierce 3.7

  • VORP: Wade 62.8, Pierce 65.5

That should hopefully give a somewhat detailed picture of what we’re talking about here. It seems undeniable Wade saw more success, both in the win column and in recognition from his peers and observers. There might be something to Pierce’s “better scorer” argument judging from his shooting percentages, but also a lot of his better numbers come from just playing three more seasons.

Paul Pierce is once again matching up with Dwyane Wade. (Photo by Stuart Cahill/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images)

The beauty of this argument is it’s so subjective, so it’s impossible to snuff out. If you want to argue Pierce’s own Hall of Fame teammates were past their prime, and grant him hypothetical championships if he had Shaq or James, and decide that counting stats matter more than per-game stats or playoff success, then more power to you.

You, in this case, clearly being Paul Pierce.

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