It looked like a good time, at least
This shouldn’t need to be said, but if you are married with children and have, say, a good job, perhaps it is a bad idea to live stream yourself intoxicated at a home poker game surrounded by strippers. That’s exactly what former NBA star and soon-to-be Hall of Famer Paul Pierce did Friday night, resulting in his ouster from his NBA analyst job at ESPN.
It was an interesting choice. Broadcasting on Instagram, Pierce was clearly in a jovial, relaxed mood as he played in an Omaha cash game in what looks like a very nice house (we don’t know if it is his home). The poker setup is plush, as one might expect in that environment – the full-size table had a built-in autoshuffler and it looked like there was a professional dealer.
A big reason Pierce was in what some say was a “jovial, relaxed mood” (that some is me, in the paragraph above) is because he looked quite high and was drinking, as well. On top of that, he was getting a massage from an exotic dancer while other nearly-nude women tended to other men in the room. At one point, Pierce adjusted the angle of his self-facing camera to show dancers twerking behind him.
Not the image ESPN seeks
Now, what someone does with their buddies is fine. Smoke up, drink up, hire some exotic dancers to give massages, whatever. But there are a couple problems here. First, Pierce is married and has three kids, so this is a bad look. Of course, maybe his wife was totally cool with it, maybe she told him to go out and have a blast. But he streamed it on Instagram. Again, just an awful look. Second, he worked for ESPN, which is owned by Disney. Disney does not take kindly to things that are contrary to its family-friendly image.
Nobody was wearing a protective mask in the video, either, which may or may not have contributed to Disney’s ire. Pierce did mention that he had been vaccinated.
According to the New York Post, there was a possibility that Pierce could have kept his job even with the video, but because he streamed/posted it himself, ESPN was put it a tough position. Had someone else videoed Pierce and posted it, it might have been a different story.
On Monday, Pierce put out a short video, telling people to “smile” and saying that “big things coming soon.”
Not a massive loss for ESPN
Pierce served as an NBA analyst on both ESPN’s “NBA Countdown” and “The Jump,” reportedly making $1.5 million per year, though the network does not publish salary data. He was not known as a particularly great analyst, though he certainly could provide good insight drawn from his illustrious career.
One of his more infamous studio moments came during the 2019 NBA playoffs semifinals after his former Celtics handily defeated the top seed Milwaukee Bucks in the first game of a best-of-seven series. Pierce declared the series “over,” saying the Bucks had no chance to come back from simple 1-0 deficit. The Bucks proceeded to blow the Celtics out of the water for four consecutive games.
Image: Boston Foundation via Flickr