After a 19-year career in the NBA, Paul Pierce moved to ESPN as an analyst shortly after hanging up the sneakers.
Pierce, who joined the company in the 2017-18 year, was a regular on NBA shows like “The Jump”, which is now canceled after a five-year run, “NBA Countdown” for pregame coverage and other appearances.
But in early April, ESPN fired Pierce after a video he posted on Instagram Live went viral because of the content the video included.
Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated interviewed Pierce in a new story about reflecting on his illustrious career, which included Pierce’s thoughts about leaving ESPN.
Pierce said he isn’t sorry for the video and wasn’t enjoying his role anyways, especially with how much LeBron James was covered, via Mannix:
The relationship between Pierce and the network had become strained over the past two years. Pierce hated the travel. Network executives didn’t think he was working hard enough. The video, industry sources told Sports Illustrated, was the last straw. “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.”
James and Pierce had countless battles in the Eastern Conference for essentially a decade.
Pierce’s prime days transpired with the Boston Celtics while James faced off against Pierce as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Miami Heat. The rivalry between the two spanned 69 games, with James edging Pierce with a 35-34 record (17-13 in the playoffs).
Given James’ stature and prominence on the global basketball stage, it’s not shocking he receives a ton of coverage from major platforms like ESPN. James’ talking points only increased when he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018, coinciding with Pierce’s arrival at ESPN.
Now that Pierce’s time with ESPN is over, he’s preparing for his enshrinement ceremony into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 11.