Richard Jefferson says he would fear Paul Pierce more than Dwyane Wade with a game on the line

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Richard Jefferson was in plenty of last-shot situations during his 17-season NBA career, and if faced with defending that situation, the current ESPN analyst said he would fear Paul Pierce more than Dwyane Wade.

“I will say this,” Jefferson said. “Ball in the hands for a last-second shot, I would probably fear Paul Pierce more than D-Wade.

“And I’m not talkin’ ’bout 3-point shot, but if you’re like, ‘Give me — I need a bucket.’ Down by one, I need a two. Down by two, I need a three, y’know, tie game. I’m taking Paul Pierce in that situation over D-Wade.”

Jefferson, Wade and Pierce each had lengthy NBA careers and competed against each other throughout the 2000s and 2010s. All three became NBA champions, with Wade capturing three titles and Jefferson and Pierce winning one each.

Wade this month was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame, joining Pierce, who was inducted in 2021.

Pierce’s Hall of Fame bio describes him as “innately calm even in the most pressure-filled situations,” a fact which when combined with his shooting talent can explain why Jefferson would fear him in a clutch game-deciding situation.

The 19-season NBA veteran had five buzzer-beating shots in the regular season and two more in the playoffs to rank among the all-time best in those categories.

Wade may have had a different way of clutch scoring, with his trips to the free-throw line helping the Miami Heat win the NBA title in 2006. A prolific scorer in his own right, the guard put up 42, 36, 43, and 36 points in four straight wins against the Dallas Mavericks to win Finals MVP.

Jefferson got the better of Pierce in some memorable battles between the New Jersey Nets and Boston Celtics in the 2002 and 2003 playoffs. Wade then helped the Heat defeat Jefferson’s Nets in the 2005 postseason.

Wade and Pierce also had their share of playoff showdowns, with the Celtics defeating the Heat in the first round in 2010 and Pierce contributing a buzzer-beater that won Game 3 of the eventual five-game series.

Wade and the Heat got their revenge in 2011 and 2012. In 2012, they won a seven-game Eastern Conference Finals series on the way to the championship.

The debate over the clutchest players in NBA history certainly has to include Pierce, and the conversation surrounding the best players of all time could include Wade, who believes his status would be even higher if not for the injuries he suffered during his 16-season career.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. His introduction to the business included the legendary Heat-Knicks rivalry from the 1990s.