Former ESPN host Paul Pierce Says He Got Fired for ‘Having a Good Time’

Transitioning from the basketball hardwood to the broadcast booth isn’t always as seamless as it appears. While NBA legends like Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley have made the switch effortlessly, others, like Paul Pierce, faced a rockier road.

On the premiere episode of his new podcast, “The Truth Lounge,” hosted on the “All The Smoke” YouTube Channel, the 10-time NBA All-Star and 2008 Finals MVP opened up about his 2021 dismissal from ESPN.

Why Was Pierce Terminated?

Pierce, whose estimated net worth is $80 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth, attributed his firing to an Instagram Live video from April 2021, which showed him and others enjoying a party with dancers, smoking, drinking, and Pierce himself receiving a massage.

“It was all going down at my boy’s birthday poker game,” the baller, whose nickname is The Truth, explained. “He has some girls there and I’m feeling good, you know. I’m enjoying retirement. It’s poker night. My boy’s birthday.”

“I decided to pull my phone out,” he continues, adding that though he went live and showed his fans his revelry, he did not upload it. While he did not, others tuning in screen recorded the video and by the morning, the baller-turned-analyst had gone viral.

“I go home fall asleep… I slept good that night,” Pierce continued. “I wake up [and my] phone is off the chain. I’m like, ‘Yeah, why is everybody blowing me up? What’s going on?

He said eventually, he received a call from his employer.

“I get a call from this lady. I don’t even know her name, so she probably like the investigator or whatever her role is with ESPN. [She says], ‘So, tell me about what happened that night’ and I’m like, ‘I mean you saw the tape. I mean I was having a good time. I was with my friends. It was some dancing. It was some cards. It was a birthday. I mean y’all act like y’all don’t be hanging out in places where stuff like this is going on.’”

The former Boston Celtic added, “At the same time, I was respectful. It wasn’t like I was doing anything. I was sitting there and there was some beautiful women there. What’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with that? You tell me. Nothing.”

Although nothing illegal was depicted, ESPN saw something wrong with it, and terminated his contract two days later for violating Disney’s morals clause.

What Does Disney Have to Do With ESPN?

ESPN, which is owned by The Walt Disney Company, rigorously enforces morality clauses in its contracts to safeguard its brand reputation. These clauses empower Disney to terminate agreements if a talent’s behavior is deemed inconsistent with public decency or moral standards that it has espoused over more than a century.

These clauses have also been instrumental in several high-profile terminations. For instance, ABC anchors Amy Robach and TJ Holmes were removed after their romantic involvement was revealed by The Daily Mail in December 2022, Atlanta Black Star reported. Despite not breaching any official company policies, ABC opted to part ways with the pair, acknowledging their contributions but ultimately prioritizing the network’s image.

Similarly, actor Jonathan Majors was terminated from Disney/Marvel contract and his $20 million role following allegations of domestic violence.

Gina Carano, another notable case, filed a lawsuit in California federal court after being dismissed by Disney and Lucasfilm for her contentious social media posts.

Her departure in February 2021 followed a series of polarizing statements, including one comparing the treatment of Jews during World War II to contemporary political issues. TV Line reports that Carano’s legal battle is financially supported by X owner Elon Musk, who has pledged to cover legal costs for users claiming discrimination based on their social media content.

How Did Losing His Job for “Having Fun” Impact Pierce?

Pierce, who had been with ESPN for four years, remained unfazed by his departure, expressing that he was ready to leave and was tired of the suit-and-tie routine.

Since his launch of “The Truth Lounge,” the now-podcast host has had 12 episodes. He is in heaven because on this platform he can call the shots and not have to worry about anyone making him hold his tongue.

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