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Paul Pierce Opens Up About ESPN Exit and Infamous Instagram Live

Liam McKeone
Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce / Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
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It's been about five months since Paul Pierce decided to go on Instagram Live, which resulted in him parting ways with ESPN. In those five months, Pierce was voted into the Hall of Fame and started up his own "Truth" marijuana brand. But both he and the network have been quiet about the divorce that ejected Pierce from the sports media world.

That changed today as Sports Illustrated released a profile with Pierce in which he directly addresses what happened that fateful night in early April. To put it simply, he doesn't regret a thing. Pierce firmly believes he didn't do anything wrong and feels no need to apologize. But first, he provided some context to SI's Chris Mannix.

Here’s what happened: In April, Pierce was playing poker at a friend’s house in Los Angeles. There was drinking. And smoking. And strippers. And after a little too much drinking and smoking, Pierce decided to start an Instagram Live and, well, show off the strippers. He went on for a few minutes, riffing, he thought, for a couple hundred people. When he finished, he deleted it. He didn’t know IG Lives can be recorded (they can) and reposted (it was). Pierce went home that night thinking no one noticed. He woke up the next day and discovered everyone had.

Still . . . sorry? “For what?” asks Pierce.

Mannix revealed that the relationship between Pierce and the Worldwide Leader was already on thin ice; Pierce "hated" the travel that came along with being a regular NBA analyst for ESPN and the network itself did not think Pierce was working very hard in his role. Thus, when Pierce went viral for his late-night escapades, ESPN didn't even ask for the Boston Celtics legend to make a public apology. The two sides simply went their separate ways. From what Pierce said to Mannix, he's just fine with that.

“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 not the most popular analyst on ESPN's roster but he certainly knew how to make headlines with strong takes that came back to bite him more often than not. It doesn't sound like he loved the job, although he didn't rule out a return to TV while speaking to Mannix, noting it would have to be "something different."

Perhaps the best quote came from Pierce's place of frustration about a prospective apology and how it related to his HoF case. Pierce told Mannix that his agent still thought he should make some sort of public statement expressing remorse for his actions. Not really to garner goodwill in the eye of the public, but just to ensure his Hall of Fame candidacy wasn't affected by the controversy. Jerry Colangelo told him the same thing. Pierce was strongly against the idea on principle.

Pierce’s longtime agent, Jeff Schwartz, suggested Pierce apologize anyway. Schwartz worried that the video might influence Hall voters. Pierce didn’t. “Come on, I didn’t do anything illegal,” says Pierce. “These motherf-----s in the Hall of Fame, some did [cocaine], f---ing battery. What the f--- did I do? I was just having a good time. All the people coming after me, half you motherf-----s do the same s---. 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.” 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.”

It's rare we get this kind of tell-all from a former employee of ESPN, especially one who left in such a public manner. Interesting stuff.

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