Saturday marked a day in NBA Twitter that no one saw coming. If you were scrolling through the thread at all, you had to have noticed a weird theme in all the tweets. Saturday was the day that the entirety of Twitter turned on Paul Pierce. It started this past week when Pierce was asked on ESPN who he thought had a better career between him and Dwyane Wade, and without any hesitation, Pierce said himself.
“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?”
After this statement, Pierce had to sit on a talk show on ESPN live television while Jalen Rose seemed to list every stat he could find to prove that Wade in fact had a better career. Pierce has fewer All-NBA selections, fewer points per game, fewer championships and fewer All-Defensive team selections. To be fair, it could just as easily be flipped with other stats to say that Pierce has more total points, more total rebounds and a higher true shooting percentage, but that isn’t the narrative that Rose wanted to tell.
Fans across Twitter and other social media platforms attacked Pierce. Wade’s son Zaire Wade came to his dad’s defense with an Instagram story, and Wade’s wife Gabrielle Union spoke out with a tweet, seemingly making the comments more serious than they were. It was an onslaught of attacks that made you hope Pierce doesn’t actually go on Twitter.
Before anything else, I’ll just say that Dwyane Wade is definitely better than Paul Pierce, but why do people expect Pierce to say anything else when asked who is better between them? He is an all-time Celtics legend who won a championship for Boston in 2008 and definitely deserves to have confidence and pride in his own legacy. This situation was just about Pierce having confidence in his own game, but people have turned on him faster and more aggressively than they turn on athletes that face allegations of domestic violence or other crimes.
Union’s tweet said that Pierce’s comments were wrong and troublesome because they were trying to “diminish” Wade so that Pierce could shine brighter, but the comments weren’t that serious. We debate player legacies constantly; you almost can’t go a week without seeing something about LeBron James and Michael Jordan on Bleacher Report. There shouldn’t be an issue with Pierce saying he is better than Wade. Pierce didn’t even bring the topic up on his own — he was prompted to speak about it. There are plenty of stories in the sports world, so things like this shouldn’t be what motivate and anger people above anything else.