WFNY NBA Banter: Paul Pierce’s Worth, Dwight Howard’s Elbow, and More

Followers of WFNY may not know how we put some of our best ideas together. Normally each day, we have a round of group emails discussing what is on tap for that particular day. Most days are straight “WWW at 9am, Tribe at 10 am,” etc, etc. But from time to time these email sessions spark some great debates.

This morning, Craig let off a rant on the Celtics SF Paul Pierce that got us talking NBA. A spirited debate ensued. We thought you’d enjoy reading this back and forth banter.

pierceCraig: ESPN front page reads “Truth Hurts” and shows Paul Pierce…

Dude is a member of a group called “The Big 3.” He scored 26 points in FIFTY ONE MINUTES. He was 50% from the field and only 1-6 from three. He missed a crucial free throw before intentionally missing the second to let the clock run out.


Dude is part of an ensemble cast. He is Potsy to KG’s Fonzy. He is weak sauce. I hope they beat the bulls because I want LeBron to have a chance to show “The Truth” just exactly what he is worth when he doesn’t have KG on the court.

TD: Craig – you are way off on this. Pierce is the best player on that team and the most clutch. KG or no KG. Don’t forget he took them to the East Finals with nothing next to him in 2002.

Craig: I respectfully disagree TD. That is part of the darkest years in the history of the Eastern Conference. They fought tooth and nail with the Nets and then the Nets lost big time to the Lakers. Only in the last few years with Wade, Lebron and KG’s defection to the east coast has the East become even remotely respectable. He has ability for days, but he doesn’t have “it.” He needed KG to bring that.

And I can’t stand him, so I might be guilty of hyperbole, but still. I stand by the basis of my rant.

TD: you are CRAZY. Paul Pierce, if he retired today, is a Hall of Famer. Who single-handedly beat the Cavs in Game Seven last year? Was that the great KG? I seem to remember him taking and making every big shot and going toe to toe with Lebron, while KG was being stymied by Ben Wallace and Joe Smith and Ray Allen completely disappeared. Last night, did he not hit three huge shots to bail out the C’s?

disclaimer: I went to KU and was there during his three year career and he’s one of my all-time favorite players (I’d put him behind Billy Thomas, Darnell Jackson, and Wayne Simien).

Craig: He hit the shots, but that team never would have been in that position without KG’s angry demeanor and ability to lead the team and focus it on defense. Pierce has skills for days, but I don’t think he has those leadership abilities. And full disclosure I can’t stand Paul Pierce since he spat at the Cavs bench during a preseason game I think in LBJ’s second year.

Rock: I agree with Craig, to an extent. I always give Pierce credit as LeBron’s only true rival at SF in the NBA. Pierce has had SOME big games in the postseason. But in general, Craig is right in how Pierce acts all tough and bad now that he has KG and Allen on his team and he can hide behind his teammates and just step out and occasionally hit a shot. I know he has a tendency to step up when the game is on the line, but for whatever reason, he just doesn’t scare me by himself. His team is fighting tooth and nail with the #7 seed in the playoffs. If you compare LeBron’s performances by himself against tougher playoff opponents in his playoff career, there’s no comparison. Then again, you could say that about everyone else in the NBA, so I suppose the point is moot.

If I was starting a basketball team, I would take a LOT of players before I would take Paul Pierce.

TD: Next to Kobe, for sure clutch play, he is the best in the NBA. Obviously, Lebron is the far superior player, but to me, this is crazy talk to down-play the guy. Ball in his hands at the end of the game, I’ll take him over anyone else in the NBA not named Kobe. That includes LBJ.

Also Rock, Pierce is 32 at this point and has taken a pounding, same thing for college. Lebron is 24.

Rock: If I’m picking a team of players in their prime, I would take a LOT of players before I would take Paul Pierce. And yes, I see through your Kansas bias!

“Hey, good for you. You were on a team with 3 Hall of Famers and won a championship. Bark, bark, bark. Superbad. We get it already. And we know who you are. So sit down, shut up and show some respect for the opponent. You know, the young team in red that has been mostly beating your team up and down the court, when they have no business doing it.”

Rock: Haha, love it. I can’t recall a team with more fake moxie than the Celtics. I’m so sick of the act.

Denny: I’d take Pierce first only if I was drafting an ‘uncoordinated by still somehow good’ team. I’d have to think long an hard about it but I think I take him over dirk. Or if I was drafting an all-NBA stab-proof team. He’d definitely be on that.

DP: I hate Rondo and Perkins and how “great” everyone thinks they are.

TD: You guys are insane….I wish you could have seen him regularly as a freshman-junior the way I did. He was so good. 1998 draft. Michael Olowokandi was the #1 pick. Pierce went 10. Dirk Nowitzki went nine.

Rock: If I was picking a team of players, and they would magically be back in their prime, I’d have Shaq, Duncan, Grant Hill, Vince Carter, and on and on. I mean, I’d take Yao before Pierce too. I’d take Rose before Pierce, too, to be honest. Derrick, not Jalen.

TD: Vince Carter and Grant Hill? Come on Rock. Yao? How many playoff series has that guy won besides ZERO? Shaq and Duncan are no-brainers. KG too because he is a big man. Derrick Rose? Dude is a stud, but who knows.

Rock: Well, my team still needs to play 82 games in the regular season as well. I know VC isn’t a postseason player, but in his prime, VC was an insanely good basketball player in the regular season. And Grant Hill, when healthy, is still one of the best basketball players I have ever seen. That guy was so smooth and so good. He was just amazing.

Anyway, I don’t want it to seem like I’m totally downplaying Pierce. If you’ve ever read any of my previews whenever the Cavs play the Celtics, I also give Pierce a LOT of credit and respect. He truly is LeBron’s only rival at his position in the NBA. But he’s not as good as he seems to think he is.

TD: As for Pierce, while I may be clouded by the KU connection, you are all clouded by your hated for the Celts.

Rock: I suppose you’re right. I can’t deny I hate the Celtics.

Rick: How lucky are the Magic right now? Howard should have been kicked out of that game yesterday. With Lee out and Howard ejected no way they beat Philly last night, and after Howard is suspended, they could have been eliminated. Now, they have the a game to throw away…

TD: Extremely….that team is weak. Can’t believe i was so scared by them a month ago.

Rock: No kidding. Jeff Van Gundy was on Mike&Mike this morning and he said he doesn’t think Howard should be suspended because he’s a superstar. Give me a break. I like Howard as a player a lot, but he has a little punk in him that everyone overlooks because of how good he is.

Scott: Didn’t Amare get suspended a few years ago?

TD: Right on Rock – exactly why Howard won’t be suspended. The difference with Amare is that he broke a rule that everyone has to abide by. This is more of a discretionary call.

Rick: He HAS to be suspended for that shot. It doesn’t get much clearer. What I want to know is did the refs review the tape to determine if that was a flagrant or not?

Rock: Exactly. Van Gundy also said Rondo’s foul was flagrant, but it shouldn’t have been called that way because it was the 4th quarter of a close game. He said refs shouldn’t decide the game. Funny, I would have thought it was Rondo, who decided to swipe at Miller’s head, who decided his team’s fate. If you ask me, the refs decided the game by NOT calling it flagrant.

DP: What would have sucked worse is if they hadn’t been able to get Miller’s bleeding stopped in time for him to shoot. I did not know the rule is that DOC RIVERS would get to choose who shot in place of Miller.

Granted, Miller bricked it anyway, but still…

Rock: I love that rule. So much better than the college rule, which lets you sub in whoever you want to shoot it, AND you get to bring the guy right back into the game after that.


And there it is… Now talk amongst yourselves….

  • Hoy

    During the half time show last night Barkley was ripping into Pierce for his “i’m the best player in the world” comment. Pierce certainly hit some big shots last night, although if they would just quadruple team Ben Gordon they wouldn’t be in that position anyway,seriously, don’t cover anyone else when Ben has the ball, he isn’t passing it.

    @Rock: agree completely on both of the fouls. The phrase “don’t let the refs decide the game” is such crap, how about don’t make a punk foul when you have no shot at a legit D or deal with the consequences of knocking someone’s tooth out from behind when he had a clear lane to the rim. Howard not getting ejected was the biggest joke of the year. Yea its the playoffs, but blatantly dirty play has no place in the playoffs.

    Ray Allen was suspended for elbowing Andy in the crotch, no way Dwight should get away with not being suspended for an elbow to the head after play was over.


  • DJ

    I’m guessing it’s not possible to suspend Howard TWO games for the elbow shot (to make up for the fact that the refs missed it last night)?

    And yes, Rondo should have been called for a flagrant as well. That was a panic play after he got toasted by Miller.

  • AMC

    As much as I had to admit it because I think he’s a punk, Paul Pierce as an extremely clutch player. I was screaming at the TV for the Bulls to bring the double team down the stretch last night – make anyone besides Pierce and his patented fade away at the elbow beat you. That said, he seems to have a tendency to get lost in the shuffle in many games, and before he caught on fire in the late fourth quarter, he was having that type of game last night.

    As for Howard, he should have been tossed immediately. The only reason he wasn’t was because he was Dwight Howard. I think the NBA HAS to suspend him for a game just because it was so blatantly obvious. Still, if I’m the Sixers I’m pretty pissed because not having Howard in Game 5 would have likely altered the outcome, and that was a crucial game for Philly on the road with the series tied. If the NBA suspends Howard, Philly gets the Magic at home sans Dwight, but even with a win, they then have to go back to Orlando with Howard back on the court. They needed Howard off the court for the remainder of Game 5 so they could close out at home. I’ve been very surprised by the Magic’s collapse down the stretch. They seem like a very mentally fragile team to me, especially when their shots aren’t falling. The Magic are example A of how a jump shot-reliant team cannot succeed long term in the playoffs. I hope the Cavs are paying attention…

    As for the Rondo foul, I think it’s closer. When you look at it on replay, you can at least see they he MIGHT have been going for the ball, though if I had to guess, knowing what punks the Celtics are, he was just trying to stop Miller from scoring. It’s a tough spot for an official to be in, but I’m not even sure they looked at the replay there, which they should have done. Not calling a flagrant there with the game on the line and it being somewhat questionable is defensible in my opinion though.

  • Kory

    if I had to pick a player from history to build a franchise around, I would pick bill russel and win 11 titles in 13 years, since, you know, he did

  • Lyon

    Pierce can be clutch, no denying that. But I’ll stand by this till the day I die. If you take away that weak little step back Jumper, he can’t beat you. If you saw any of the Cavs series last year, that’s how he beat us in the 4th Qtr. Pierce will not beat you off the dribble, so just play up on him and he won’t make that step back jumper if you actually are guarding him.

    Putting Salmons on him last night in the clutch time was a terrible mistake. Wouldn’t you rather have Tyrus Thomas guarding him? Dude’s more athletic than Salmons, longer, taller, and can block shots. What part of that does Del Negro not understand?

    I guess I really hate the Celtics and it pains me to see them pull that game off.

  • Denny

    I have two main issues with the Celtics/Bulls game, that I didn’t really get into the mix with because I was commuting while most of the argument was going on.

    1) If that’s Tyrus Thomas instead of Brad Miller, it’s a dunk. Miller moved sooooo slowly from the top of the key to the hoop it was almost unbearable to watch. That being said, Rondo was beat and did what he could. He clobbered Miller in the dome, and it should have been a flagrant IMO. Because Brad Miller is a man (see what I’m implying, LeBron?) he didn’t throw his hands up or anything like that. He just went to the bench, stopped the bleeding, and went to shoot his FTs.

    2) Paul Pierce (he of Truth-ish status) hit THE SAME JUMPER OVER SALMONS THREE TIMES IN A ROW. How do you not adjust to that? It was pretty much the same play 3x. Ray Allen wasn’t on the floor. Perkins was exhausted. Davis was dreaming of cupcakes. Eddie House was pulling his socks up. Everybody in the building (except Del Negro, apparently) knew it was going to be Pierce with the ball. DOUBLE HIM. Do something to stop him.

    Damn C’s.

  • Chris M

    No way Pierce handles a series this year against this team. Lebron will break him down like a shotgun. That dude will be tired enough after this series, let alone playing 5-7 against Orlando / Philly.

    If the Celts even make it out of the first round.

    At any rate, he lost me the moment he spit at the Cavs’ bench a few years ago. Eff that guy, and this H.O.F. nonsense. The guy was garbage prior to last year, if only because he didn’t care about tanking the season for a shot at the #1 lottery pick.

    In 06-07. they had Al Jefferson and Delonte West and a few that they still have on their team, and they managed 24 wins? Yeah, he sounds like a leader to me.

    Besides the Eastern Conference Finals that they limped into, He has done absolutely nothing with this team until they rented 2 future hall of famers nearing the end of their careers for a championship.

    Good Luck with KG’s extension Boston, that should only hurt until 2012.

    /end rant

  • Clown Baby

    I have mixed emotions. As a Cavs fan, would it bring me more pleasure to see the Celts lose in the 1st round or see the Cavs take them out in the Eastern Conference Finals? Also, if anybody here thinks that we aren’t in for a mugged up KG triumphantly charging out of the tunnel if the Celts make it to the ECF’s you’re in for a surprise.

  • Clown Baby

    Also, Rondo looks like a tranny.

  • shaff

    guys like pierce finish games for you, and that’s 90% of what the nba is about. the last 5 minutes is everything. that makes him more valuable than most of the people in your list ahead of him. i’d put shaq on my team first in his prime anytime but you need someone at the end to finish the game. no post players can anyhow but especially when they develped the hack a shaq defense. that’s why guys like pierce have alot of value. they can take the ball out top or on the wing and get off their own shot. shaq, garnett, and howard cant do that. even ray allen needs someone to penetrate and kick it to him. everyone is a role player, even superstars have a role they play.

    i like how one day if you one a championship ever in your career you are great and cant be argued with, then the next time someone makes excuses why someone won like it shouldnt count. and worse yet talk down about some player cause they never won a championship. i guess gervin, barkley, ewing, and karl malone were all overrated

  • Zoner

    Thanks for the link love. As for the comment about Salmons guarding Pierce, he did a great job in the previous game when Pierce had 6 turnovers. Plus Tyrus would likely foul in a situation like that.

    What a series though!

  • Windy City Wahoo

    Rondo looks like one of the zombies from “I Am Legend”. Seriously.

  • buu

    rondo is bizzaro boobie (i wonder how that sentence looks to someone who has no idea about basketball).

  • mike

    grant hill in his prime = better than paul pierce, and THATS the truth! i think everyone has forgotten how amazing grant hill was. in his prime, he was without a doubt one of the top 3 in the league. the same cant be said for paul pierce now or ever.

  • marco



    KG will be back if the Celts last.

  • Harv 21

    Pierce is a Garnett psych job. OK, last year he won game 7 almost by himself with his passion. Anyone remember him ripping a crucial loose ball right out of LeBron’s arms as he fell down? But while he can do everything on the court but has wasted his talent, sometimes spending entire SEASONS disinterested and sulking. Hall of Fame level skills, yes, but he’s a pouter with no leadership skills.

  • bridgecrosser

    Paul Pierce looks like a nasty Lake Erie catfish.

  • The East Coast

    Ok — In true discolusre, my good friend lives in Cleveland and forwarded me this site today to let me know about how annoying Boston Fans are, and they are becoming “like Yankee fans.”

    First off — don’t confuse people who are at the game as “fans.” They are typically drunk and spent way too much money to watch a sporting event. They aren’t fans, they love the winning bandwagon and make very team look bad.

    Second off — I tried reading all of the conversation from above, but reading what the first “dude” wrote — Craig — it’s funny, or is it ironic, that someone who “hates Boston” would try so hard to write in the voice of Boston’s most notorious (and overplayed and mostly annoying) writer — Bill Simmons.

    Guys I’m trying to read the site, because different views are good — I’ll keep reading, maybe I’ll find something … but really … this is boring

  • Rick

    Please…don’t let us bore you. And by all means, please judge the site based on one post that really was a bunch of emails between some of the writers.

  • The East Coast

    What’s boring is “Bill Simmons Speak”.
    What’s boring is disliking a player, so twisting your argument to make it make sense.

    I’d draft Rose before Pierce. That doesn’t make sense.
    With that logic you’d choose Zuckerbburg (the facebook kid) over Jobs (the Apple guy) to run your company.

    Yeah the young guy is talented, but the old dude has proven over years.

    Now — in full disclosure. I dislike Paul Pierce more than anyone. It dates back to 1999 — the displeasure with him is really animosity. It’s personal. He was a terrible teammate when the team was bad — but he’s still a good basketball player.

  • ppmvp

    Paul Pierce is the heart and soul of the Celtics. He is the one to step up at the end of big game, and when hes on hes on..You can’t deny the type of teammate he is now, giving props to Rondo as the MVP of the team this season, and he is captain for a reason- no matter if he was pre KG. The guy can take any when it comes to foul line extended jumpers or muscling to the basket and the Bulls can’t touch him there is no way they are losing this serious. So please end all the Pierce bashing because he makes the C’s and will be a hall of famer along with his teammates KG and Ray, and it doesn’t matter who is injured the celts have heart they’ll pull through.

  • bridgecrosser

    The thing with Pierce, is he’s like a weak hall-of-famer. That’s an oxymoron and backhanded compliment I know. But he does things like last year’s game 7 vs the Cavs, and pretty much the whole Laker series while KG was sputtering… you could see him having these epic games… but then he goes away for a while and seems like he’d like to fade into the background.

    Hopefully with KG’s gimpy knees and father time staring down Ray Allen, we’ll see if it’s Pierce or Rondo who will carry things.

  • LOL

    “Countdown to the Title” HAHA! We’ll see.

  • Lyon

    even more reason to hate Boston

  • S-Dub

    I severely disagree with the argument that Pierce is a HOF. Before last year, NO ONE, not even Boston fans, claimed he belonged in the HOF. At least not that I ever heard. Show me his numbers and how they stack up against the HOF’s then maybe you could argue that point.

    He’s a solid NBA All-Star every couple years, but nowhere near a HOF. If he is one then VC is one, because their essentially the same player. In their prime I may even take VC over Pierce because he’s every bit as clutch.

    Every time the camera flashes to KG I really just wanna punch that dude in the F****** face. I tell my roommates that every damn time. Really gets under my skin. Also, Brad Miller is REALLY garbage. He has made 1 positive play all series and that was the tip in at halftime in game 3. I am SO GLAD the Cavs didn’t trade for that guy at the deadline. 3 times last night he left 5 footers clanking off the front of the rim. Just terrible.

  • S-Dub

    Also, after reading the post over at I find great joy in the fact that KG will forever be apart of one of the greatest dunks in playoff history. LBJ owned KG just like he did to Sheed. Think if LBJ drives again KG will be in the lane to “attempt” to block him? No, He’ll cower under the hoop a la Tayshaun in 2007’s Game 5….Check the tape.

  • EDM

    News flash: Howard was suspended. Though Van Gundy saying he shouldn’t be because he’s a star is assinine. I bet if LeBron pulled something like that he’d be kicked out, too. Like Charles Barkley said, if Brad Miller had fouled Rondo in the same way, he’d be kicked out, like Glen Davis (right?) was ejected for throwing Varejao to the floor by the face earlier this year.

    They did suspend Kobe for 1 game on two different occasions a couple years ago for elbowing Manu (and someone else I can’t recall) in the face after a shot, didn’t they?

    I really, really hate the Celtics. They have the typical Northeast arrogance that reeks of the Red Sawx and Yanks. (Cubs fans take second place.)

    Great blog by the Chicago fans, btw. KG may be a great player, but he isn’t carrying a team by himself. His only accomplishment before last year was taking his old team (once) to the WCF before getting destroyed by the Lakers team that was then crushed by the Pistons in 5.

    There are indeed lots of players ahead of Pierce I would pick if starting a team. Again from the TNT team: One can argue that Pierce (or Kobe) may be slightly more deadly when taking a last shot with 0:05 left, but here’s the thing: what about the OTHER 47:55? LeBron rules that argument all the way. LBJ & Kobe are hands-down HOFers, Pierce is not.

  • Denny

    @ East coast: I find that the Zuckerberg/Jobs analogy is absurd.

    Rose is a rookie. Yes, he needs to find a mid-range jumper so that he’s not lost when defenses clog the lane. But he’s a ROOKIE on a .500 team and he’s making the defending champs look like a bunch of chumps. If you’re going to liken him to someone in the tech field, I’d say he’s the like the Twitter guys rather than the Facebook guy – he’s on the up and up, and is gaining steam quickly.

    Pierce is established, yes – but he’s no Steve Jobs. He’s not even Steve Wozniak or Bill Gates, or anybody like that. He’s the guy that starts a company, struggles along until one day serendipity puts him in the same broken elevator as two great CEOs who discuss with him the nuances of business and help him reach new levels he’d never be able to do on his own. If he never got lucky that those two guys were there, he never makes it and lives the rest of his life in relative anonymity.