ESPN and Paul Pierce have decided to part ways, Ryan Glasspiegel and other sources reported on Monday. The decision comes after Pierce shared an Instagram Live video that was deemed inappropriate. Pierce seemingly confirmed the news on social media with a pair of videos, one with him laughing into the camera and a second thanking his supporters and his haters.
The video in question featured Pierce partying with several half-naked women dancing in the fashion of a gentleman's club. The clip caused a stir on social media over the weekend, with many questioning how Pierce's employer, Disney, would respond and also mentioning his co-host Rachel Nichols.
Pierce was an in-studio analyst on NBA Countdown, taking the position in 2017 after his 19-year NBA career came to an end. He also appeared on Nichols' own program, The Jump, as a guest. The news also comes on the heels of Pierce becoming a finalist for the Basketball Hall of Fame earlier in March.
The former Boston Celtic followed his initial laughter video with a message promising there would be positive news in the future. "Big Things coming soon stay tuned make sure u smile," Pierce wrote and included the hashtag, "Truth shall set u free."
Nichols inclusion may have played a part in the ouster, with the mention leading to speculation on social media and had the ESPN host trending on Twitter. While rumors and gossip persisted online, the connection between Pierce, ESPN's parent company Disney and the content of the video was enough for the dismissal.
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Pierce is an NBA legend, winning a championship with the Boston Celtics, earning a spot in the All-Star game ten times and averaged 19.7 points per game to hold the sixteenth sport on the all-time scoring list.
Former ESPN host Michelle Beadle commented on Pierce's later Instagram post, poking fun at the incident and pitching a new series between the pair. "Looks like our cooking and dance show can finally happen. You book the dancers. I'll grab some grub. Boom. Emmy," Beadle wrote.