Wild poker game involving strippers leads to ESPN firing Paul Pierce

Jon Sofen
Published by:
Posted on 04/06/2021

Paul Pierce, the soon-to-be basketball Hall of Famer, was fired from ESPN over a racy video involving strippers in a poker game. The retired Boston Celtics star recorded the video while on Instagram Live.

Since retiring from the NBA in 2017 after 19 seasons, 15 of which were in Boston, Pierce began playing poker more regularly. He’s even appeared on popular PokerGO shows such as “Poker After Dark” and has competed in a few World Series of Poker events. In 2015, he even ran fairly deep in the WSOP Main Event, and finished just shy of the money.

Last weekend, the poker-playing hoopster competed in a controversial poker home game in Southern California, presumably at his house. The game turned out to be quite costly for the former Celtics forward, and not because he lost a ton of money during play.

Pierce recently became a basketball analyst on two ESPN NBA shows, “NBA Countdown” and “The Jump.” He wasn’t doing so hot in his role and was said to be already on thin ice with the higher ups at ESPN. In a recent appearance, he reported the wrong team had won a game. So, he couldn’t afford further missteps or he’d likely be out the door.

Paul Pierce crosses the line

ESPN, the nation’s leading sports television network, has a strict code of conduct for its employees. Quite simply, if an ESPN representative acts in an uncivil manner or behaves in a way that may make the network look bad, they’re gone. Pierce chose to ignore the latter.

The former Kansas Jayhawk All-American forward live-streamed bits of a poker game, presumably at his mansion, which involved strippers and the basketball star smoking weed. He shared the brief clips of the wild night on his Instagram page, and then thousands of viewers shared it with their audience. The video is now available for viewing on YouTube.

Shortly after the videos were exposed, he was promptly fired from his basketball analyst position at ESPN. The sports network refused to comment on the firing but is moving forward to find a replacement. The New York Post reports that the incident alone isn’t what bothered the higher-ups at ESPN the most.

“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,” the New York Post reports.

In May, Pierce will most certainly be voted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the crowning achievement for every basketball player. He will join the late Kobe Bryant, who is eligible for enshrinement this year, in the elite group of highly-acclaimed players

Pierce hasn’t directly commented publicly on the firing. But he did post a brief video, presumably laughing about the situation.

“Big Things coming soon stay tuned make sure u smile,” Paul Pierce promises his Twitter followers.

Featured image source: Flickr