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Op-Ed: Don’t Paul Pierce yourself on the net

I am not a fan of Paul Pierce.

If you know me, that’s not a secret. Every single time Pierce’s face appears on my television screen, I want to throw my remote right through it. As a young fan of the Detroit Pistons and the Los Angeles Lakers (sue me, I loved Kobe Bryant), “The Truth” created some dark memories. Those moments still haunt me to this day. However, my disdain for Pierce only involves him in basketball.

After all, I have no personal relationship or connection to him.

Over this past weekend, I felt like Pierce was one of my best friends. On Friday night he began to post his wild night of fun on Instagram. It’s the type of fun that one would witness in the “Close Friends” category on Instagram. I thought I made it. I have several friends who work at Fortune 100/500 companies, and when it’s time to unwind, they’ll post some crazy stuff for the “close friends” to see only.

He didn’t do that. Instead, he did something worse.

Pierce went LIVE on Instagram for the whole world to see. During his shenanigans, he was presumably drinking alcohol and smoking weed. Along with that, he had some adult entertainment in his background, twerking and gyrating for the world to see.

Now let’s be clear on one thing. No one should judge Paul Pierce for doing any of the above antics in his spare time. Heck, there are people probably reading this who do a lot worse. So passing judgment on him because of is out of bounds.

Despite that, judging Pierce’s decision to record his antics and post them on social media is in-bounds. At the time of the now well-known post, he was still an employee of ESPN. However, as of Monday evening, reports began to surface that ESPN decided to part ways with the Boston Celtics legend.

Immediately after the news broke, there was a firestorm on social media.

Supporters of Pierce feel that Disney/ESPN went too far. In their opinion, parting ways with him over “living his life” off the clock is stupid. Another group of Pierce’s supporters feel what he did was intentional so ESPN could fire him, clearing the way for a bigger move.

Both theories are pretty mind-boggling and lack the common sense one needs to understand why Paul Pierce is no longer at ESPN.

First off, the world is still in a pandemic. Social distancing is still effect. People are still dying from COVID-19 daily. People may read this story and think of a loved one or acquaintance who died from the virus. In Pierce’s video, there was not a mask in sight. For a man with his platform and his job title, it was not a bright idea to record himself in that manner.

Jul 10, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Former basketball player Paul Pierce arrives on the red carpet at Microsoft Theatre. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Secondly, as mentioned above, he was working for Disney/ESPN at the time. If anyone knows anything about Disney, that company is all about protecting its image. Pierce made the mistake of embarrassing the Disney brand. I was a Disney employee over a decade ago. Although it was on a much lower level than Pierce (I was a College Program Participant), I still worked there for two separate six-month stints. I learned while working there to smile at all times and uphold the family-friendly, happy image of Disney. More than anything, I learned to not make Disney look “goofy”

Pierce didn’t do that.

Smoking, alcohol, and strippers do not make Mickey Mouse a happy camper.

Lastly, there’s the role model aspect of it. When Paul Pierce joined the NBA, becoming a role model may or may not have been a priority. And while I don’t know anyone personally who looks up to him, I am sure some do.

And quite frankly, how could you not?

Pierce is not only a champion on the court, but he’s a champion in life. Think about this. Several months before the start of the 2000-01 NBA season, someone stabbed him 11 times in the back, neck, and face. To top it off, someone cracked a bottle over his head as well.

And he didn’t miss a single game of that season.

He’s also been open about his battles with depression since that stabbing incident. Professional athletes, current or former, rarely speak out about their battles with it. Those reasons alone are enough for him to consider Pierce to be a role model, which is why this situation he’s in is disappointing.

There is no telling how quickly his public image will recover from this. So far, he has been the subject of many social media jokes and memes. In the end, Pierce represented a brand and made it look bad. And when you make a brand look bad, they’ll teach you a valuable lesson. It’s a lesson that Draymond Green tried to teach him years ago regarding something else.

When you make a brand look bad, they’ll show you very quickly that “they don’t like you like that”.

And that’s the REAL truth.

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