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Is Paul Pierce Morphing Into Larry Bird?


I naturally ask that question tongue-in-cheek, but nonetheless couldn’t help but be reminded of Bird after witnessing a couple gems from Pierce during last Sunday’s win over the Bucks. For some fun, I give you the side by side comparison to let you be the judge before we head into tonight’s rematch.

1) The Falling Forward Three-Pointer

Bird definitely gets the edge in the degree of difficulty and clutch columns, but still two tough shots.

2) The No-Look Over The Shoulder Pass

Bird really has an endless barrage of these plays, so let’s just take a look at all of them while we have a good excuse to.

It’s safe to say Paul has some work to do….then again Larry could never do this…..

  • MikeD

    Great post, thanks!!

  • Celtics Freak

    No disrespect, but Paul Pierce wil never be like Larry Bird, Larry Bird can be considered one of the top 50, probably even 20 greatest players. Paul Pierce on the other hand is maybe in the top 100

    • Celtics Freak

      Maybe unless pierce loses weight and starts to run faster nd get more athletic nd shoot the ball alot more

      • PortugueseCeltic

        Paul is in better shape this year than he has been in the past 3-4, he looks younger, and his stats show he's only getting better. He doesn't need to shoot the ball more if the celtics are healthy.

        • Celtics Freak

          But to be as good as Bird he does

          • MikeD

            I know it is just one man's opinion, but Bill Simmons has Bird ranked 5th all time and Pierce ranked 47th on his pyramid. And I don't think the point of the article was to say Pierce is as good or better than Larry.

          • Celtics Freak

            You have a very valid point @MikeD

    • alex

      "probably top 20"?

      • ElRoz

        a guy who hasn't studied or watched basketball outside of last few year obviously.

    • Batman

      Uh Bird is usually considered a Top 5 Player

    • jasonritz

      are u serius? paul pierce is right behind bird in celtics scoring, he is tha captain like birds was, he can shoot mid range long range, he won a three point shoot out like bird did, he's hit so many game winning shots like bird, and ta most of he's got a ring like bird, he was mvp finnals like bird. dont get me wrong im a huge bird fan, but pierce is my idol from comin back from 11 stabb wounds in 02 , and never gave up hope and stayed witt boston his whole carrer{ like bird} pierce34 all day!:) go celtics

    • isla

      I'll put Bird in the top 3 of all time…Pierce top 20 of all time

  • dslack

    I think you slightly undervalue the Celtics guys.

    Bird is, by almost any reasonable metric, one of the top 15 players of all time. basketball-reference.com computes "Hall of Fame Probability," a kind of funny metric for guys who are already in the Hall, but it's still reasonable – If you knew a player's stats, and you knew what stats the Hall values, but you didn't know whether the player in question was in the Hall, how would you use the player's stats relative to what the Hall values to estimate the player's chances of making it to the Hall of Fame? Bird has the 10th highest "Hall of Fame Probability" of all time. (The players ahead of him are, in order, Russell, Wilt, Kareem, Jordan, Havlicek, Cousy, Kobe, Magic, and Shaq.) This isn't the only reasonable metric, but no matter how you count I don't see how Bird could end up out of the top 20.

    By the same metric, Pierce is #47 all time, and #7 on the list of active players. He comes in slightly ahead of Dirk despite Dirk's being a better player because Pierce because Pierce has won a championship. So, this metric isn't perfect. But to say that Pierce is "maybe" in the top 100 is being overly pessimistic on him. He's definitely in the top 100, arguably in the top 50, and by the end of his career will probably be solidly in the top 40 of all time by this metric.

    • MikeD

      Dirk is not a better basketball player than Pierce. People think scoring means everything. Pierce is a better all around player, and better defender by a wide margin.

  • Celtics Freak

    Right now, out of all the active players Pierce is definitely in the top 50/100 but I'm saying throughout the years, there have been so many players better than him. On the list of active player Paul is like 21 on that last. Don't get me wrong he's good but definitely can't carry a team on his back.

    • Celtics Freak

      Like a lot of active players do

    • MikeD

      Pierce actually has carried a team with players like Kenny Anderson, Keith Van Horn and Rodney Rodgers to the eastern conference finals

      • Celtics Freak

        That was when he was younger. A hot shot out of Kansas great young player who kind of just one day slowed down his game.

        • Bob

          Hey, you're a fucking idiot. Paul Pierce carried many teams in the playoffs. No one can win a championship by themselves jerk off.

    • dslack

      What? On the list I mentioned, Pierce is #7 among active players. You're saying that he's the 21st best player in the NBA this year? That's not crazy, but I think again it's a bit pessimistic. I still think he's the 3rd best SF in the East, and was 2nd best until Carmelo showed up. I'd rank as follows:

      1. LeBron
      2. Wade
      3. Howard
      4. Kobe
      5. Rose
      6. Durant
      7. Chris Paul
      8. Deron Williams
      9. Amare
      10. Pau Gasol
      11. Dirk
      12. Carmelo
      13. KG
      14. Rondo
      15. Ginobili
      16. Bosh
      17. Pierce
      18. Westbrook
      19. Duncan
      20. Griffin

      I don't feel particularly strongly about this order, but it's roughly right in my opinion. I think Pierce falls pretty solidly in the 12-20 range.

      • billybridge

        Bosh ahead of Pierce?

      • Andrew

        did you just name all the players you could think of? Nash, Odom, Love, Deng, Roy all snubbed in favor of Perkins, Rondo, Paul, Bosh, Griffin. all those guys you named are quality players, but to rate them above other standouts simply shows a lack of complete basketball knowledge. gotta stop playing 2K10 and start watching all the teams in the NBA.

        • hdavenport


      • Daniel34BigD

        dude, how bout best all-around players?
        cuz howard, amare, pau, duncan, and griffin just play inside, and dunk
        paul pierce can do that and more

  • ElRoz

    Bird top ten of all time easily in my book. The scoring, tough nosed rebounding, and assists make him rather unique – neither Dirk nor LeBron can rebound the way Bird did.
    And Dirk also does not have the passing-assists. Magic was great, but had the benefit of playing against guys always smaller than he. Bird was inside, banging and fighting for position, diving to the floor for loose balls. If Bird would score 15-20 point, he’d get you 15-20 rebounds and/or 10 assists – few players could contribute in all three categories that way.
    I see the same fighting spirit in Kobe, but Bird was a better passer and averaged more assists while, right now, now Kobe has a better scoring average.

  • dave

    Not a bad list. it gets difficult to rank active players who are clearly past their prime. Not saying I could do it any better than you.

    But KG ahead of Duncan? Seems a little homeristic. No way that history will say from a career perspective KG falls ahead of of Duncan. No possible way!

    • Jmt

      That's a list for this year. Didn't you notice Rondo at 14?

  • Vasilis

    Isn’t the last dunk a clear travel? I count 3 steps after he catches the ball. Seen it called plenty of times

    • Spry

      Must have been on of those Lebron James "crab dribbles!"
      Actually, it was a lazy 1, then two-foot plant. Totally legal, Dominique Wilkins used this move on well over 80% of his dunks.

  • luislandry

    Yea I think dslak's list is not a hall of fame likelihood list, just a top players list. I have the same top 5 in the same order. Only one I'm wavering on there is possibly moving Howard up to number 2, and I think his play this year in particular has been better than James/Wade so I'd give him the MVP. But generally speaking, I like the order of James, Wade, Howard, Kobe, and Rose.

    I'd disagree more outside of the top 5. By the criteria of "which player do I want for one year, given injury risk (no Yao) but not counting age b/c we're not looking at the future (so Kobe still over Durant, etc)", I'd go with:

    1. LeBron
    2. Wade
    3. Howard
    4. Kobe
    5. Rose
    6. Durant
    7. Westbrook
    8. Dirk
    9. Chris Paul
    10. KG
    11. Pau Gasol
    12. Amare
    13. Pierce
    14. Ginobili
    15. Deron Williams
    16. Carmelo
    17. Rondo
    18. Duncan
    19. Griffin
    20. Nash

    I took Bosh out and added Nash, b/c I think if you're going to take a one-sided player (no D) I'd prefer Nash. Not that I'm hating on Bosh, excellent player too. Pierce has been a beast this year, I bump him and KG both up more than some others. KG's defense is still incredible, and Pierce is amazing this year. Of all ignificant usage guys shooting over 60% True Shooting % this year (Truth is at 62%), only Steve Nash and Chauncey Billups have been assisted on fewer of their FGs. Billups is not the crunch time guy for his team, and Nash passes up too many shots, so Pierce really is remarkebly efficient for someone who creates a decent percentage of his own shots.

    But I think the guy you're most undervaluing is Westbrook. If CP3 was fully healthy I'd clearly have him higher, but I can't right now and Westbrook is a beast.

    • Jeff

      Ur nuts, Kobe 4th…………

  • http://twitter.com/jdotd @JdotD

    I'm loving the 2011 Paul Pierce. Best shape I've seen him in for YEARS. Can't remember the last time I've seen him dunk like he is this year.
    On the other hand, maybe its only the against Bucks he's able to perform like this!

    • ElRoz

      I know…he was great tonight at NJ. The "captain" stepped up!

  • Brian

    Pierce is one of the most underrated players in recent history. He's not super athletic like a Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James. So the casual fan looks past Pierce since he's not dunking every night on ESPN's top ten. On the other hand is still putting up great numbers while guys like McGrady and Carter (who have similar years in the NBA) are steadily slowing down. Meanwhile some would say Paul Pierce is better than he's ever been. He's one of the better defenders at his position, he's a terrific slasher and a better 3pt shooter than all guys I mentioned above. The biggest reason why Paul doesn't get his due is because he plays for the Celtics. If Pierce played for any franchise other then the Celtics or Lakers he would be considered their best 1-2 players in franchise history.

  • Max

    Pierce is a very good player, but he can never be compared to Larry Bird, Bird is one of the best players that has ever played this game, he was very smart and he had the abbility to shoot, rebound and pass like no one else, 3 consecutive times MVP and 3 Championships. He is just Larry Legend

  • sonnydc

    Paul Pierce is not even close to Larry Bird…

  • ElRoz

    In his last year, at his worse..at the end of his career..with a hurt back, hampered vision, and weak heels…Bird helped his team in many ways: as a passer with over 6 dishes a game…as a scorer with over 20 points a game…and as a rebounder with over 9 boards a game.

    We see tonight at NJ that if Pierce is not scoring, he is not helping in other ways. And he surely is no leader of this team…this team has no leader – neither Doc, nor KG, nor Rondo…just a bunch of guys on a "one and done" team 2008. The real Big Three won 3 titles.

  • UR AssHole

    FUK Paul The Wheelchair Pierce!! Hes a chump!

  • Guest

    UR AssHole you're talking to yourself with that screen name.

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