A wild night at a home poker game and the decision to stream parts of it on social media cost NBA legend Paul Pierce his job with ESPN.
The 10-time NBA all-star who retired after the 2016-2017 season is an avid poker player. The 43-year-old competed in many high-stakes poker tournaments, including events at the World Series of Poker and the $25,000 PokerStars Players Championship in 2019.
Last Friday, however, Pierce played in a home game. He posted videos to his Instagram account that showed the 43-year-old smoking what appeared to be marijuana, being entertained by scantily clad women and drinking alcohol. While he didn’t show any actual footage of a poker game, there was an empty poker table in the background and he was clearly sitting at a table with other people.
Clips of the videos made their way around other social media platforms and the story picked up steam as they were constantly shared. (Warning: some of these images are very NSFW)
Paul Pierce had the best IG live of 2021
I cried man pic.twitter.com/OypnmNmiYd
— – (@THVMOE) April 3, 2021
For the last several years, Pierce has been one of the rotating hosts on ESPN’s “NBA Countdown” and “The Jump.” On Monday, ESPN announced they would be parting ways with the 2008 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player.
According to a report from the New York Post, the decision had more to do with the fact that Pierce himself shared these videos. If they were leaked by someone else, the company would have continued to employ him.
Despite his enthusiasm for poker, Pierce doesn’t have a recorded tournament cash on his resume. He built a huge stack in the 2013 $10,000 pot-limit Omaha championship at the WSOP, but busted before the money. He also fell a few spots shy of a cash in the 2014 WSOP main event. He also took part in a 2019 “Poker After Dark” cash game on PokerGO.
Last month, Pierce was named as a finalist for induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He will likely be voted in later this year. Pierce played 19 seasons in the NBA and had his #34 retired by the Boston Celtics. He married his wife, Julie Pierce, in 2010.