Dwyane Wade

Paul Pierce doesn't mind debate: 'It doesn’t bother me one bit'

Paul Pierce doesn't mind debate: 'It doesn’t bother me one bit'

Paul Pierce has been in the headlines quite a bit more than a long-retired player usually is during the final stretch of the NBA season.

The Boston Celtics legend caught some flak after claiming that he was a better player than Dwyane Wade during Wade's retirement tour. Pierce sparked an intense debate among sports fans on social media about who was the better player.

Since the debate, Pierce has been ridiculed by fans of the Miami Heat and Wade. At Wade's final game in Miami, the crowd started a loud "Paul Pierce sucks" chant. Recently, Pierce spoke to Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe about the attention he has received, and he mostly brushed it off and claimed that he's used to the negative attention.

“You know I don’t care about stuff,” Pierce said. “I don’t know how this happened. You know me, you know that stuff don’t bother me. As a player I was the same way, that’s what made me who I am. People can say what they want to say but I’ve always been a villain in this league. I’ve always been booed on the road.

“It’s nothing new. It doesn’t bother me one bit.”

This is probably the right attitude to have, especially considering that Pierce is now a prominent NBA analyst for ESPN. He's going to say what he thinks, as he always has, and he won't let the negative attention get to him.

Of course, it does help that Pierce's cause that he does have some positive remarks coming his way. Danny Ainge weighed in on the debate and backed up Pierce's assertation with the use of analytics. And there are plenty of Celtics fans who agree with him as well.

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Danny Ainge "settled" Paul Pierce vs. Dwyane Wade debate in the best way

Danny Ainge "settled" Paul Pierce vs. Dwyane Wade debate in the best way

It was a simple question that probably deserved a short, diplomatic answer.

"Sure," Danny Ainge could have said, "Paul Pierce and Dwyane Wade were both great players, but I'm preferential to my own guy."

But that's not how the Boston Celtics' president of basketball operations chose to handle what's become a hot-button issue since Pierce boldly declared himself better than Wade on ESPN.

"I'm gonna say Paul, because I just went into my analytics group the other day and I asked them that question," Ainge said Wednesday morning during his weekly interview with 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Toucher & Rich."

That's right: Not only did Ainge not dismiss the debate, he enlisted the Celtics' analytics team to settle it. Here's how:

"We have an analysis called Adjusted Plus/Minus," Ainge said. "That's probably the best number you can come up with for a player's impact in the game. ... (Pierce and Wade) were very high in the prime of their career in adjusted plus/minus, meaning they were in the 10-11 range per 100 possessions, which is enormous."

According to Ainge, Wade was "slightly better" from age 20 to 29 than Pierce, with an Adjusted Plus/Minus of 6.4 compared to Pierce's 5.4. But if you look at both players in their 30s...

"Pierce was actually better than he was in 20s," Ainge said. "Pierce was 5.8, and Dwyane Wade was minus-0.4.

"And that was my initial feeling: that Pierce was a little more consistent for longer than Dwyane."

So, there you have it. Ainge and his stat geeks ran the numbers, and they chose the Celtics star over the Heat legend.

"I think everybody came to the conclusion that they would have to give the nod to Pierce, on our staff," Ainge said.

Shocker, we know.

Now is a good time remind you that statistics can prove anything. Indeed, there's a ton of evidence supporting Wade -- some of which Ainge admitted -- like his three first-team All-NBA selections to Pierce's zero, his three rings to Pierce's one and his 2009 NBA scoring title.

But let's acknowledge Ainge and his staff taking the time amid a playoff push to dig up statistical proof that Pierce had a better overall body of work than his Heat counterpart.

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Heat fans start very loud "Paul Pierce sucks" chant in Dwyane Wade farewell

Heat fans start very loud "Paul Pierce sucks" chant in Dwyane Wade farewell

Miami Heat fans had more than just Dwyane Wade on the mind at the team's final home game of the season.

In the final minutes of Wade's last regular season home game, the AmericanAirlines Arena broke in a robust chant:

Yup, that's a "Paul Pierce sucks!" chant at a Heat-76ers game.

The impetus for the chant came earlier this week, when Pierce boldly claimed on ESPN's "NBA Countdown" he had a better career than Wade.

We respect the Boston Celtics legend's confidence, and both Pierce and Wade will be Hall of Famers one day ... but the Truth over the Flash is a pretty tough case to make.

Heat fans obviously sided with their hometown hero, and decided to vocalize that opinion in their last gesture to Wade.

No word on if Celtics fans will respond with anti-Wade chant, but considering Boston's next home game will be a first-round playoff matchup with the Indiana Pacers, we'd imagine the TD Garden faithful has bigger fish to fry.

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