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5 Most viral Paul Pierce controversies of the 21st century

Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce
Kunal Sethi
ANALYST
Modified 07 Apr 2021
Top 5 / Top 10

Paul Pierce is known for his days with the Boston Celtics and more recently his stint as an NBA analyst on ESPN. He appeared in famous segments such as NBA Countdown and The Jump. Pierce was also an occasional guest on First Take.

Within the NBA fanbase, Paul Pierce is infamous for his questionable opinions and habit of making unusual predictions. Pierce has been in the limelight of late after he parted ways with ESPN following a controversial Instagram Live session.

Top 5 occasions when Paul Pierce went viral

Paul Pierce has always been subject to criticism and censure for his actions both on and off the court. He made controversial statements during his time with ESPN and often went viral on social media, with fans mocking him for his takes. Let's take a look at the five occasions when Paul Pierce went viral in the 21st century.


#5 Chaos surrounding his jersey retirement ceremony

Paul Pierce speaks during his jersey retirement ceremony Paul Pierce is wheelchaired off the court
Paul Pierce speaks during his jersey retirement ceremony Paul Pierce is wheelchaired off the court

Paul Pierce's jersey retirement ceremony on February 11, 2018 didn't go as planned. A day that was supposed to be remembered for greatness and celebration turned into the mess we know now.

Initially, the Boston Celtics were going to show a tribute video for Isaiah Thomas. Thomas wasn't fit to play on his first return to Boston, so he requested for the tribute to be played on his next visit, which happened to clash with Paul Pierce's jersey retirement day.

Pierce didn't want the Celtics to interrupt his ceremony to show the video because he didn't want to share the stage on his big day. Pierce faced backlash but the kerfuffle resolved itself when Isaiah Thomas was traded to the LA Lakers before the event. The Truth wanted a special day for himself as he had special guests in attendance, including Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Doc Rivers.

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The cherry on top of the chaotic events leading up to the night was the presence of his perennial rival, LeBron James. LeBron spoiled Pierce's night as the Cleveland Cavaliers went on to beat the Boston Celtics 121-99 at TD Garden.

The Boston Celtics decided to keep his retirement ceremony at the end of the game instead of halftime so the fans. Pierce and his guests had to sit through a blowout. It led to hundreds of memes being flooded online with fans having fun at Pierce's expense.

#4 Wheelchair incident and subsequent confession

Paul Pierce is wheelchaired off the court
Paul Pierce is wheelchaired off the court
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In Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals, Paul Pierce drove to the basket against the LA Lakers, took a hit and fell to the ground. The crowd in Boston fell silent as their leading scorer appeared to have been seriously injured and was eventually taken to the locker room in a wheelchair. However, just two minutes later, he returned to the court and helped the Celtics win 98-88.

His supposed super quick recovery from an injury that seemed severe led to fans theorizing whether he hurt himself at all. LA Lakers fans were extremely pissed at the whole escapade.

Paul Pierce put an end to the mystery a decade later and confessed that he wasn't actually hurt and just needed to go to the bathroom. Chauncey Billups asked him about the incident before Game 2 of the 2019 NBA Finals and he said:

"I have a confession to make. I just had to go to the bathroom"

#3 Not including LeBron James in his top 5 players ever

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Paul Pierce with ESPN
Paul Pierce with ESPN

This incident is a more recent one as it took place just last year. During a quarantine edition of the ESPN show NBA Countdown, Paul Pierce named his top 5 players of all-time and left out LeBron James from the list.

LeBron James is arguably the greatest player of this generation and is brought up in the GOAT (Greatest of All-Time) debate constantly alongside Michael Jordan. James usually makes any top 5 list in the NBA but Pierce leaving his former rival came off as spiteful.

Everyone from former players to professional analysts scoffed at Paul Pierce's comments. NFL Hall of Famer and sports analyst Shannon Sharpe called the move "petty" while other analysts like Stephen A. Smith and Kendrick Perkins called it "excessive" and "personal."

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Everyone remembers the on-court battles between the two stars and how James got the best of Pierce several times. People refused to take his comment seriously as everyone felt Pierce left James' name out due to bitterness.

#2 Saying he had a better career than Dwyane Wade

Miami Heat v Boston Celtics
Miami Heat v Boston Celtics

During another edition of ESPN's NBA Countdown, Paul Pierce made a bold claim stating that he felt he was a better player than Dwyane Wade and had a better career than him. He faced instant backlash as several fans and analysts mocked his statement. From ESPN's very own shows to Reddit threads and podcasts, everyone was quick to point out the opposite.

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Paul Pierce appeared on the ESPN show After the Buzzer and the topic was brought up. Former NBA player Jalen Rose decimated Pierce's argument in front of him saying:

"Since Dwyane Wade isn't here to defend his honor, I'm here...[Wade has] made All-NBA First Team twice, Paul hasn't done it. He made All-NBA 8 times to your 4. He's made All-Defensive Team 3 times to your 0. He's won one scoring title, you weren't able to win a scoring title. He has 3 rings, you have 1 ring."

In addition to all the achievements mentioned above, Dwyane Wade also has a higher career scoring average of 22 points per game compared to Paul Pierce's 19.7 per game.

#1 Racy Instagram Live session

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Paul Pierce was in the news the last week for crossing a few boundaries
Paul Pierce was in the news the last week for crossing a few boundaries

A few days ago, Paul Pierce hosted an Instagram Live session in which he was surrounded by scantily clad women who could've been strippers.

While some humored themselves, many didn't receive this video well. He was the subject of scrutiny on online platforms all around the world. In the aftermath of the incident, Paul Pierce was fired by ESPN.

Putting fuel to the fire, Paul Pierce did not issue an apology for his actions. Instead, he uploaded a video on Twitter and later on his Instagram Stories suggesting that bigger things were coming soon.


Also read: "I wish I had taken just 5 mins" - Michael Rapaport shares his side of the story from the bust-up with Kevin Durant


Published 07 Apr 2021, 12:08 IST
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