ESPN’s Decision to Fire Paul Pierce Is So Over the Top: TRAINA THOUGHTS

Author:
Updated:
Original:

1. Talk about a ridiculous overreaction.

A couple of days after Paul Pierce went on Instagram Live while enjoying the company of some scantily clad women showing off their twerking skills, ESPN fired the NBA analyst who had worked on NBA Countdown and The Jump.

It goes without saying that what Pierce did was beyond dumb. The guy worked for Disney and had to know the company wouldn’t be happy about a host representing them that way.

But Pierce didn’t break any laws; he didn’t harm anyone; and he didn’t do or say anything offensive. A suspension would’ve been more than sufficient. The rush to ax him over a social media blunder—albeit an embarrassing one—seems way over the top. Firing someone should be a last-resort measure.

I know Pierce, like all talent, has a morality clause in his contract, so obviously ESPN can cite that as its defense, but terminating Pierce screams of, “We don’t want to deal with this,” more than, “We can never have this guy on air after what he did.”

The thing with these social media flare-ups, which is all the Pierce incident was, will go away within 24–48 hours when the news cycle changes. All ESPN had to do was either suspend Pierce or wait out the social-media storm for a day or two and this entire issue would be over. (He also should’ve gotten some credit for his tremendous reaction to this entire mess.)

The firing also calls into question ESPN’s confusing standards. This is the same company that hired Alex Rodriguez, a known cheat who was suspended for an entire season by Major League Baseball, and has made him the face of its baseball coverage.

ESPN’s response to that would be, “When Alex used PEDs, he wasn’t an ESPN employee. Pierce embarrassed ESPN while working for ESPN.” My response would be to compare the infractions.

There’s also a little bit of “Jordan Rules” going on here. If Pierce were a top ESPN talent, he would’ve been suspended. Remember when Tony Kornheiser criticized Hannah Storm’s wardrobe choices? That got Tony a suspension. One ESPN personality personally attacking another ESPN personality seems much worse than a guy doing an R-rated Instagram Live.

At least Pierce didn’t seem too upset about losing his gig with the World Wide Leader.

2. The Astros played the Angels Sunday night and a couple of fans brought garbage cans to taunt Houston players. This triggered Astros manager Dusty Baker, who made this absurd statement after the game:

"You can tell the amount of hostility and the amount of hatred in the stands,” Baker said. “How many in the stands have never done anything wrong in their life? We paid the price for it. How many people have not cheated on a test, or whatever, at some point in time. I mean it’s easy if you live in glass houses, but I don’t think anybody lives in glass houses.

“I think that sometimes we need to look at ourselves before you spew hate on somebody else. It’s a sad situation for America, to me, when you hear things—I mean what are the kids supposed to think in the stands? And some of them are kids that are following their parents. It’s sad to me. People make mistakes. We paid for ours, and I wish they’d leave it alone.”

Dusty, your players cheated. They got caught. And fans didn't have the chance to mock them for it last year, so they're making up for lost time. This has nothing to do with the sad situation in the U.S. It's a stupid baseball thing. You gotta deal with it.

3. Brandon Marshall was trending on Twitter all morning because of this clip in which he goes ballistic about NBA players not having guaranteed contracts, which, of course, is not true.

4. Sometimes players are bummed about getting traded. Sam Darnold, though, seemed more than happy to get away from the Jets.

5. The season is young, but this has been my favorite highlight of the 2021 MLB campaign. 

6. The latest SI Media Podcast features an interview with WWE superstar Edge.

Topics covered include his main-eventing this year's WrestleMania with Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan, coming back 10 years after retiring, the importance of humor as a wrestler, his best friend Christian leaving WWE for AEW and much more.

You can listen to the podcast below or download it on Apple, Spotify and Stitcher.

You can also watch the SI Media Podcast on YouTube.

7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: In honor of WrestleMania week, let's remember the time fans in the arena were in tears when "Macho Man" Randy Savage reunited with Miss Elizabeth.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on AppleSpotify or Stitcher. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.