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Paul Pierce has some strong points about ESPN, apologizing and Jiri Welsch

Dennis Young, New York Daily News on

Published in Basketball

Paul Pierce enters the Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday, an honor he correctly bet he was far too deserving to beg for. That’s just one of many delightful parts of a Sports Illustrated profile of Pierce that was published Tuesday morning.

Pierce was fired by ESPN in April for an Instagram live video with smoking, gambling and stripping that he insists, perhaps unconvincingly, was accidental.

“I was done with them, anyway,” Pierce told SI about his ill-fated TV career. “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.”

After the video, Pierce’s agent Jeff Schwartz and Hall of Fame chairman Jerry Colangelo tried to get him to apologize to smooth things over with the small and anonymous group that elects Hall of Famers.

Pierce recounted those conversations to Chris Mannix with an all-time rant.

Later in the interview, Pierce got off an tremendous shot off at Jiri Welsch, the obscure guard who appeared in 247 NBA games from 2002 to 2006. “They were always telling me how to play,” Pierce explains of his initially rocky leadership with Celtics bosses Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge.

 

“They wanted me to pass the ball more. Well, who did they want me to pass it to? Jiri Welsch? S---, I’d rather take a bad shot than pass it to Jiri Welsch.”

But Mannix and Pierce make it clear that the NBA legend is a true optimist at heart. The 43-year-old Pierce is determined to meet his father, who he says never contacted him after his 2000 stabbing or 2008 Finals win over the Lakers.

“What happened? I think that’s every kid whose father isn’t around. What went wrong? I’m not going to judge you for it. He’s older now. I mean, I don’t have any hate for him. ... “When this pandemic lifts,” Pierce said of meeting his father, “I’m going to do it.”

Most optimistic of all, Pierce believes he can smooth over the resentment Rajon Rondo and his best friend Kevin Garnett have for Ray Allen, who left for the Heat in 2012. Pierce dreams of all four (plus Kendrick Perkins) reuniting at a Celtics game. “I’m going to keep talking to everyone,” he told SI. “What a moment that would be.”

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