Paul Pierce was recently minted as an NBA Hall of Famer, a legendary Boston Celtic who was the face of the franchise for more than a decade, finally earning a championship ring in 2008 when the Big 3 Celtics beat the Lakers in the Finals. For many, the indelible image of Pierce is Game 1 of that Finals, when he left in a wheelchair, apparently in agony, only to return later to help the Celtics to a 98-88 win.
For some, it’s a heroic image — Pierce’s Willis Reed moment. For others, it’s one of the NBA’s great conspiracy theories that Pierce’s quick return to the court was because he wasn’t actually injured, but that he was whisked off the court in a wheelchair because he pooped his pants — Lamar Jackson, when accused of rushing off the field for a poop emergency himself, cemented Pierce’s legacy by simply saying “I didn’t pull a Paul Pierce.”
Pierce added fuel to the fire by jokingly admitting that was the case while he worked for ESPN, which didn’t help his case and in the time since he has spent a portion of seemingly every interview being asked about it and vehemently denying that he pooped his pants. The latest instance of this came on the “What Did I Miss?” podcast with Michelle Beadle on The Athletic, where Pierce tried to offer some logic as to why the pooping your pants theory doesn’t make sense.
“If you poop your pants, does it make sense to sit down and mush it in a wheelchair?” Pierce asked Beadle. “I would walk back there and go straight to the bathroom. Why would I need a wheelchair if I pooped my pants? You don’t sit down on your poop, right? It doesn’t make sense.”
I’ll be honest, this is a pretty good explanation on the surface. However, I would counter by saying that if the goal is to make it look like you didn’t poop your pants in an NBA Finals game, you no longer care about the damage done but covering it up. And if the goal is to keep up appearances, you would not hurriedly walk to the bathroom, but ensure that no one could see what happened to those white shorts by being taken off in a wheelchair.
The unfortunate thing for Pierce is that, at this point, there is nothing he can say that will dissuade people from believing this theory who are already all-in on it. The best thing he can do is to just say “I’ve explained what happened there, people are going to believe what they want but I know the truth and it’s not what happened,” and quickly move on. That would do a lot more for stopping the questions from being asked as much than getting riled up about and producing soundbites that remind everyone of the incident and only further lead to people analyzing the tape like the Zapruder film to try and prove that he’s lying.