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Poker blunder cost Paul Pierce ESPN job

PAUL PIERCE made the mistake of airing a poker home game on Instagram Live that went viral. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF POKERNEWS.COM

Retired Boston Celtics legend Paul Pierce opened up on the All the Smoke podcast about why ESPN fired him in 2021 from his role as an NBA analyst, and it turns out the reason stems from his behavior during a poker home game.

In April 2021, the poker enthusiast and Basketball Hall of Famer hosted a poker game that would inevitably cost him a high-profile sports media gig, which he admitted in a brief X video.

The poker game in question involved strippers and marijuana, which isn’t anything out of the ordinary among celebrity home games. But the NBA champion made the mistake of airing the festivities on Instagram Live, and it went viral.

Pierce, who made over $100 million in salary during his 19-year NBA career, had a controversial exit from ESPN three years ago. He was quickly fired after a viral racy video showing the hoops legend smoking weed during a home poker game surfaced on social media.

It was clear at the time that ESPN canned Pierce over the video. But now he’s finally opened up publicly about the firing, and he admitted that he didn’t even know that Instagram viewers could record a video when a user goes live.

“The day I got fired, it was all going down, it my boy’s birthday. Poker game. He has some girls there, and I’m feeling good, you know. I’m enjoying retirement, it’s poker night, my boy’s birthday, come on, now,” Pierce said.

Pierce was having a good time playing poker, getting a massage at the table, winning some money, and celebrating his friend’s birthday. What could possibly go wrong? Well, he decided to go live on Instagram from inside the house hosting the poker game and made a costly mistake.

“Then I decided to pull my phone out. Boom! I thought I had some good visuals. The girls were having some fun. They were dancing, I’m getting a massage. Look, you don’t understand, if you ever play poker and you win all the money, you feel good. I wanted to see the moment. I was caught in the moment,” he continued.

He did perhaps get a bit caught up in the moment and decided to share that moment with his social media followers. The only problem for him was that some viewers recorded it and then posted it on their social media accounts. ESPN, which has some strict code of conduct policies for their employees, saw the video and fired the basketball star.


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