After four and a half years, Paul Pierce is reportedly out at ESPN. Pierce joined ESPN as a studio analyst in September 2017 and has been a key figure there since, particularly on The Jump and on NBA Countdown (he’s seen above on that show in 2017). But he drew a lot of negative attention this weekend after posting an Instagram Live video of him drinking, smoking, and playing poker while women danced in the background. And as per Michael McCarthy and Ryan Glasspiegel, that’s now led to ESPN parting ways with him:
Source: ESPN parted ways with Paul Pierce effective immediately
— Ryan Glasspiegel (@sportsrapport) April 5, 2021
BREAKING: ESPN and NBA Legend Paul Pierce have parted ways, according to sources.
Pierce posted videos of himself with exotic dancers on Instagram Live Friday night. Pierce has played a key role on 'NBA Countdown' + other ESPN basketball programming.
ESPN declined to comment.
— Michael McCarthy (@MMcCarthyREV) April 5, 2021
Here are some stills from the videos in question:
Paul Pierce had the best IG live of 2021 ????
I cried man ??? pic.twitter.com/OypnmNmiYd
— – (@THVMOE) April 3, 2021
Meanwhile, Pierce himself posted this to Twitter Monday night:
— Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34) April 5, 2021
Update: ESPN issued a “no comment” when asked about this. Andrew Marchand of The New York Post also had an interesting note on how this video coming from Pierce’s own platform rather than a third party may have impacted this decision:
According to sources, ESPN was particularly miffed that Pierce chose to put the videos out on his own accord. If he had been filmed doing the same activities and they became public by someone else, he may have kept his job.
It’s certainly notable to see ESPN reportedly move on from a long-established analyst like Pierce over something seemingly pretty minor, especially as many of their past breakups with other personalities only came after repeated issues. We’ll see what’s ahead for Pierce, and we’ll see what this means for ESPN’s NBA programming going forward.
[Ryan Glasspiegel on Twitter]