The reason behind scheduling Monday as the occasion for signing a one-day contract to officially retire as a member of the Boston Celtics was because Pierce is slated to travel south to Bristol, Connecticut, to sign another deal on Tuesday, the future Hall of Famer told ESPN columnist Jackie MacMullan:
“That’s why I signed the contract with Boston today. The minute I sign with ESPN, I’m officially retired.”
Pierce will reportedly serve as a studio analyst with hopes of joining a broadcasting team at ESPN. The company has long coveted Pierce’s services, per Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch. ESPN first approached him about a job last summer, before he returned for a season, and again at the All-Star break in February, after he already announced his intention to retire at the end of the 2016-17 season.
He has worked the Finals for ESPN’s “NBA Countdown” pre- and postgame show the past two seasons and has appeared regularly on Rachel Nichols-hosted “The Jump” during the offseason. Michelle Beadle will reportedly host “Countdown” alongside Pierce, Chauncey Billups and Jalen Rose in 2017-18.
“I can work in L.A., which is where I am from, and I am already used to people at the network after working with them the last two years,” Pierce told SI.com in June. “And Beadle makes everyone feel comfortable. It just feels natural to me talking hoops and analyzing the game. I feel like I have been doing it forever.”
Pierce stole the “Countdown” show last season, when he wore his 2008 championship ring to the deciding game of the 2016 Finals and declared, “What pressure does LeBron have in a Game 7. He doesn’t have to face me tonight.” Pierce and James, of course, split four head-to-head playoff series.
The 10-time All-Star again stole headlines for “Countdown” after Game 2 of this year’s Finals, stating that Kevin Durant, not LeBron, “may be the best player in the world today,” much to Billups’ chagrin.
Meanwhile, Pierce has repeatedly called out the NBA’s younger generation for their lack of competitiveness, blaming computers and video games for the lack of trash talk in today’s league, criticizing Durant’s decision to join the Golden State Warriors and suggesting Russell Westbrook and DeMarcus Cousins are the only players left with “the ’80s, ’90s, early 2000s genes of competitive fire.”
From reacting with complete shock toward Tracy McGrady’s ranking of LeBron ahead of Magic Johnson to properly roasting Brandon Jennings for his playoff performance, Pierce’s truth-telling on the air has regularly made the internet rounds, so it should come as no surprise why ESPN sought his services.
And since it was a 2015 conversation with MacMullan that launched Pierce’s late NBA career push for a post-playing career in commentary — a diatribe that included criticism of almost every point guard he ever played with — it is only fitting that she broke the news of them becoming teammates at ESPN.
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