In April, former Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce earned himself an indefinite day off from ESPN’s “NBA Countdown” after the 10-time NBA All-Star uploaded video clips of himself with exotic dancers on Instagram Live. It appeared to be a night of poker, drinking, smoking and hanging out maskless with barely clothed women. The sports network parted ways with Oakland native within days.
In a new in-depth interview with Sports Illustrated in conjunction with his upcoming Hall of Fame induction, Pierce said he refused to apologize for his action — although ESPN never asked for one — claiming the partnership between him and the network was never a “great fit.”
“I was done with them, anyway,” the 43-year-old said, detailing how the relationship had already begun to buckle. The former sports analyst admitted he hated the commute and claimed that network executives didn’t believe he was performing his duties well. However, the now-infamous clip — Pierce maintained he didn’t know he uploaded to the internet — was reportedly the nail in the coffin. “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,” he added.
Despite being advised by his longtime agent Jeff Schwartz to say sorry for fear, should he not, would influence Hall votes, Pierce declined. “Come on, I didn’t do anything illegal,” Pierce said. “These motherf-ckers in the Hall of Fame, some did [cocaine], f-cking battery. What the f-ck did I do? I was just having a good time. All the people coming after me, half you motherf-ckers do the same sh-t. You’re just hiding it. And you all are married while you’re doing it. I’m divorced. I’m retired. I’m having fun,” he continued.
However, Pierce did agree to meet with Jerry Colangelo. Colangelo also doubled as Hall chairman and told the former athlete, “To clear up the circumstances, you may want to come out and say something.” He added, “Don’t leave any doubt in anyone’s mind. Who knows how people are going to be affected by what they saw? I told him he ought to think about [apologizing]. That’s all. And he chose not to. And that’s fine.”
Pierce became an analyst for ESPN’s “NBA Countdown” and “The Jump” after retiring from the NBA in 2017. In August of that year, he became a regular studio analyst before the 2017-18 season.