Paul Pierce disliked working for ESPN: ‘You have to talk about LeBron all the time’

Former ESPN analyst Paul Pierce next to LeBron James cutout
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ESPN fired Paul Pierce after he posted a video to Instagram of strippers at his poker game in April.

Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:

He went on for a few minutes, riffing, he thought, for a couple hundred people. When he finished, he deleted it. He didn’t know IG Lives can be recorded (they can) and reposted (it was). Pierce went home that night thinking no one noticed. He woke up the next day and discovered everyone had.

The relationship between Pierce and the network had become strained over the past two years. Pierce hated the travel. Network executives didn’t think he was working hard enough. The video, industry sources told Sports Illustrated, was the last straw. “I was done with them, anyway,” says Pierce between pulls of lemon mint. “It wasn’t a great fit. There’s a lot of stuff over there that you can’t say. And you have to talk about LeBron all the time.”

If I were the suspicious type, I might wonder whether Pierce – who had a job he disliked and didn’t need – tried to get fired. Is the 43-year-old really so technologically illiterate, he didn’t know his Instagram video could be widely disseminated? But I’d wonder that only if I were the suspicious type.

Pierce certainly isn’t keen on frequently lauding LeBron James, an old nemesis. But LeBron – one of the best and most popular players of all-time – warrants attention. Discussing him is and should be part of the job.

That was only one of many blunt comments from Pierce in Mannix’s article, which I recommend reading in full.

My favorite involves Pierce’s initial reaction to Doc Rivers as Celtics coach, before they grew close:

“People wouldn’t believe how often we argued,” says Pierce. He recalls countless meetings with Rivers and Ainge that led to heated arguments about his shot selection. “They were always telling me how to play,” says Pierce. “They wanted me to pass the ball more. Well, who did they want me to pass it to? Jiří  Welsch? S—, I’d rather take a bad shot than pass it to Jiří Welsch.”

Poor Jiri Welsch.