Former 10x All-Star slams Thunder guard: 'I don't think Shai's a superstar'

Oklahoma City Thunder v Toronto Raptors
Oklahoma City Thunder v Toronto Raptors / Cole Burston/GettyImages

The OKC Thunder have become arguably the biggest surprise of the 2023-24 campaign, as they've ascended from being a consistent lottery team to a legitimate threat to claim the number one seed in the Western Conference standings heading into this year's postseason.

Spearheading the charge for the ball club has been guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who, through 68 games played, finds himself encroaching on historic statistical territory and is soundly in the running for league MVP alongside the likes of Nuggets All-World talent, Nikola Jokic.

Yet, despite his stupendous production and impact through this point, some are still reluctant to give the 25-year-old his proverbial flowers, as former 10-time All-Star and basketball Hall of Famer Paul Pierce recently went on record to argue that SGA has yet to thrust himself into "superstar" status during a recent episode of Ticket and the Truth.

Paul Pierce says Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander isn't a superstar

"I don't think Shai's a superstar yet. I think he's on the verge of it... Because [the Thunder] aren't on national TV every week. He's not in the commercials. I don't even know if he's got a shoe out... That's why I say he's an emerging superstar. He has everything, the ingredients. He's in the oven right now, he's in the oven. He ain't came out of the oven yet. He's an emerging superstar."

Paul Pierce

Pierce's main qualification for what makes an NBA superstar seems to be popularity outside of the game and within the mainstream, thus leading to his case regarding lacking shoes and broadcast time.

However, his co-host and former Celtics teammate, Kevin Garnett, seems to disagree completely with the former star, as he used Pierce's baking reference by saying the Thunder star is "on top of the stove cooling off."

Pierce would even go as far as to say that he believes "James Harden is still a bigger superstar" than SGA, a sentiment the Big Ticket shot down almost instantaneously.

Though there's an argument to be made that Gilgeous-Alexander is not currently one of the most influential players from a cultural perspective, as far as game and on-court play is concerned it's undeniable that he's become one of, if not the best player in the entire association this year.

Putting up numbers not seen from a talent outside of the legendary Michael Jordan, the guard finds himself posting sensational averages of 30.8 points, 6.4 assists, 5.6 rebounds, 2.1 steals, and just shy of a block all while shooting 54.2 percent from the floor and 37.2 percent from distance.

Simply put, there seems to be no true weakness within SGA's game.

Take away driving lanes and he'll splash jumpers home from mid-to-long range. Force the ball out of his hands and he'll drop an absolute dime. Catch him on a mismatch while playing defense, and see him use his length and high-end IQ to his advantage.

Superstars are not molded by merchandise sales -- after all, rarely will one find people rocking Joker's 361's -- but, rather, their on-court play and overall contributions. From this standpoint, it should go without saying that the Thunder guard is a legitimate superstar.

Someone should let Pierce know and help him get out of this fantasy that he's currently living in.