NBA legend Paul Pierce has absolutely no regrets about his sudden departure from ESPN in April.
Pierce’s exit from the network came after he broadcasted a long video on Instagram live from a friend’s poker game while smoking weed with strippers in the background. That’s normally OK if you’re a former NBA player, but not one who works for Disney.
In a new profile with Sports Illustrated, though, Pierce shed some light on his tenure with ESPN, and it’s pretty clear he didn’t care much for working for the company. Pierce said he never apologized to ESPN for the video and didn’t align with their content focus that centered a lot around a former rival of Pierce’s, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James.
From the story:
ESPN didn’t ask for an apology. 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.”
Pierce was advised by his agent, Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports Management, that an apology could stop his Hall of Fame chances from being hurt. Pierce rightfully still made it in without one and is completely unbothered by the consequences of the video.
“Come on, I didn’t do anything illegal,” says Pierce.
Pierce then launched an expletive-filled rant, implying that other Hall of Fame players use drugs and commit domestic violence, but do a better job of hiding it.
“And you all are married while you’re doing it. I’m divorced. I’m retired. I’m having fun.”
And if Hall voters had held it against him? “Listen,” says Pierce, “if I didn’t make it with this class, it would be the biggest stiff job in Hall of Fame history.”
Pierce is scheduled to be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame this Saturday.
As for what’s next for the former Kansas star? Pierce said he is planning a podcast with former Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets teammate Kevin Garnett.
— Aron Yohannes
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