Sports network ESPN has ended its relationship with sports analyst and NBA legend Paul Pierce. The news comes just days after the former Boston Celtics player appeared in a very racy Instagram Live session, Michael McCarthy for Front Office Sports reported Monday night, on April 5.
McCarthy revealed in a Twitter post that multiple sources said the partnership ended after Pierce “posted videos of himself with exotic dancers on Instagram Live Friday night.” He added, “Pierce has played a key role on ‘NBA Countdown’ + other ESPN basketball programming.”
Pierce’s live session garnered concern after he was spotted smoking, drinking, hanging out mask-less with barely clothed women and apparently playing poker with his friends. The ESPN network is owned by media giant Walt Disney, notable for its family-friendly television programming and movies. With Pierce’s affiliation to the brand, many would deem his behavior inappropriate. It’s unclear whether Pierce was smoking marijuana, though it is legal for adult use in California. His actions though were in clear violation of COVID-19 safety protocols.
The 43-year-old had been with the sports network since his retirement after the 2016 to 2017 NBA season and, as McCarthy’s post pointed out, has played an integral role on several shows, including “The Jump,” while covering other events in the league.
Though ESPN declined to comment on the situation, Pierce appeared seemingly unbothered by the news of the network letting him go. On Monday evening, April 5, he shared a clip of himself laughing. The former athlete captioned the post, “Big Things coming soon stay tuned make sure u smile. #Truthshallsetufree.”
Later that same day, he shared another post, writing, “I can’t lose even when I lose I’m winning.”
Social media reactions were split, with many finding nothing wrong with the star’s behavior, including one Twitter user who wrote, “I mean he was off work. He did nothing morally incorrect.” That person added, “Had fun at a poker event with exotic dancers that had bathing suits on. Smh so easy to find a way to get rid of a brotha.”
Another person commented, “You got this you made that show watchable. ESPN has nothing without you TRUTH! Bigger and better things coming!”
Meanwhile, others didn’t take it so lightly. “We watching a midlife crisis unfold here y’all, he just lost Disney money and he tryna hold it together,” a third expressed.
A fourth wrote, “I think people forgot that ESPN is not an Adult rated, supported company. These people are representatives of foundations for children, Christians, donors….a whole bunch of folks that will deem his actions “unrepresnetable”. Look up what ESPN is, how it was created, etc.”
There’s no word on if anyone will replace Pierce on ESPN’s NBA programming or if the network will just rotate in other commentators to fill in his spot in the interim.