Wade Doing His Part for The Culture. Paul Pierce Doing His Part For the Ego

A couple days after Dwyane Wade admitted he intends on consulting a therapist, his family (and Wade from afar) supported his middle son Zion in Miami’s Gay Pride Parade. It was a family affair with Gabrielle Union leading the cheers and Zion having a throng of supporters expressing their love for him. Zion is 11 years old and a dead ringer for his father. He was clearly overjoyed that the people who care for him the most came out to represent. Both his father and stepmother have a public profile. That they openly supported and were ecstatic of their son’s participation in a parade that celebrates lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender as well as intersex identity is an important cultural moment. Neither Wade nor Union were running away from what the parade represents but rather the opposite. It was full on embrace.

Even though Zion has not revealed his sexual orientation to his parents, the desire to participate in a parade knowing such a loving village is behind him and accepts his identity without regret or repudiation puts him way ahead of peers whose families are distant, critical, unloving and cruel.

Earlier in the week, Wade told Rachel Nichols he was going to consult with a therapist once his career is over. It was a shocking statement. First, he didn’t have to tell Nichols something so personal. Secondarily, it was an admittance that he was entering a world he wasn’t sure of and needed guidance to handle the transition from pro player to human citizen.

Other stars of Wade’s caliber were fully vested in the next path immediately after retirement. His buddy LeBron is making movies before his career is over. But Wade isn’t sure yet how to proceed and consulting with a professional is the best way to begin the rest of his life. Admitting it to ESPN, only gives the green light for other players to do the same.

There is nothing wrong with seeing a therapist and many well balanced people have used therapists to help with situational issues they are having in their life. It doesn’t mean they are weak just because they seek an impartial professional. Actress Taraji Henson of Empire fame told Vanity Fair she goes to a therapist routinely because they help her with stress and anxiety and give her exercises to help her anxious mind get settled.

Wade and Henson, in the same week, de-stigmatized mental health practitioners and services and by their example others will follow their path without shame.

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Not since Paul Pierce was wheeled out of NBA Finals Game 1 in a wheelchair has he been so into his feelings. Wade is getting a lot of love because it is ending and, you know, that’s what we do. When we sense the end is the end and it is finally here we get all sentimental. Pierce was denied this love fest because he wasn’t a player of Wade’s caliber. Draymond Green famously told Pierce, “You can’t get no farewell tour. They don’t love you like that.” It was funny and true and Pierce just can’t get over Wade, probably because the Big Three of the Heat kept the Celtics from adding to their NBA championship count. Maybe that is why Pierce said he had a better career than Wade.

Better?

I think Michael Jordan would say 3 is greater than 1. But let’s start here. Paul Pierce could smell title number 2. In the 2010 NBA Finals, the Celtics were up 3-2, one win away. Before leaving for Los Angeles to play the last two games Pierce famously said we “have two games to get one.” Umm…wrong mindset. Anything can happen in a game 7.

The Celtics were blown out in Game 6 and Kendrick Perkins blew an ACL. In the anything can happen in a game 7 department, the C’s were up by 13 points. Metta World Peace, guarded by Paul Pierce, drained a 3 to give the Lakers the lead and they never looked back. Pierce would never have another opportunity to get a second title. All Pierce and Garnett and Ray Allen could manage was one title.

Pierce’s ego is talking. He didn’t dominate the league in a 10 year span the way Wade did. He wasn’t All-NBA repeatedly or All-Defensive. He was a great player, a phenomenal scorer, a tough end of game competitor. But he was the best player on a team that lost 18 games in a row, and 22 losses out of 23 games, and was close to being traded before the blockbuster pieces of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen rescued him from purgatory. Wade won a title with two different teams and Pierce won a title only after Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen arrived in Boston. After Allen left, there wasn’t much title competing left for Pierce.

His ego wants to believe he was the best player ever and it must be salty for him to see what he was denied as far as player appreciation. But he didn’t have a better career than Wade. At moments, it was exciting, thrilling and sensational, but over time Wade was a more elite player.

This is how you know Wade’s career is better after you look at the numbers that heavily tilt in Wade’s favor. Wade is considered third, perhaps fourth best, shooting guard of all time after Jordan, Kobe and Jerry West.

Paul Pierce is not considered third, perhaps fourth best, small forward of all time. Not with a crew like Dominique and Larry Bird and James Worthy and LeBron James and Kevin Durant and Dr. J. and Elgin Baylor and Scottie Pippen and John Havlicek. Good is not great and great is not elite.

Stay in your great lane PP and stop trying for elite.