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Ex-NBAer's unfortunate Haiti screed gets him canned from ESPN

Jan 27, 2010, 2:00 PM EDT

Paul Shirley and I were born in the same town. But he left the mean streets of Redwood City, Calif., a San Francisco suburb, for Kansas as a small child, and went on to a career as a journeyman NBA player, and then a writer (I plan to follow that path in reverse). So as a Redwood City homie, I am sad to report that Shirley has been canned as a part-time blogger at ESPN. As a human being, however, I’m not bummed at all. On Tuesday Shirley wrote a particularly distasteful piece on his personal blog,, in which he explains why he won’t be donating any money toward Haiti relief. Excerpt:

As we prepare to assist you in this difficult time, a polite request: If it’s possible, could you not re-build your island home in the image of its predecessor? Could you not resort to the creation of flimsy shanty- and shack-towns? And could some of you maybe use a condom once in a while?


I haven’t donated to the Haitian relief effort for the same reason that I don’t give money to homeless men on the street. Based on past experiences, I don’t think the guy with the sign that reads “Need You’re Help” is going to do anything constructive with the dollar I might give him. If I use history as my guide, I don’t think the people of Haiti will do much with my money either.

The resulting backlash was terrible and swift. The Big Lead writes: Those of a certain bent will frame this politically and make him a martyr, but it’s not a case of valid viewpoint discrimination. Shirley’s words were inexplicably ignorant. ESPN, which has played host to Shirley’s blog on music and sports since 2007, was not amused. They issued a brief statement today in which they washed their hands, and for good measure their feet, of him.
Shirley actually had a rather large following on ESPN, and I’d be interested to know what the reader reaction will be.
UPDATE: Trying to log on to Shirley’s column on Flip Collective, and getting a Service Temporarily Unavailable message. Traffic congestion, or has he taken the column down?
If you rebuild it, they will come [Flip Collective]
Paul Shirley fired over Haiti comments [Pop Eater]
Statement regarding Paul Shirley [ESPN MediaZone]

  1. Jim Guida - Jan 27, 2010 at 3:32 PM

    “Well, why shouldn’t they die? It will lessen the excess population.” — E. Scrooge, 1843

  2. Dee Mirich and the Supremes - Jan 27, 2010 at 3:53 PM

    And by the time I get home, you Haitians had better have cleaned up all this rubble!

  3. Tombstone7 - Jan 27, 2010 at 4:21 PM

    No love for the fellow man? He who spew venon on the down-trodden shall have to answer for their lack of mercy for others.

  4. Rhonda Simnacher - Jan 27, 2010 at 4:51 PM

    It never ceases to amaze me how cruel and inhuman people can be. Thank God ESPN fired him. He deserves that and more. Seems to have NO compasion whatsoever for his fellow man. He had better pray HE never needs help because God is watching his every move.

  5. Robyn - Jan 27, 2010 at 4:51 PM

    Who is Paul Shirley? Why is Paul Shirley so angry and hateful? Went to the NBA website and looked up Paul Shirley. Now I know why Paul is so angry and hateful. According to Paul’s NBA playing stats, he falls under the category of “B-U-M.” Paul, when Haiti rebuilds stronger than ever (don’t doubt, the New Orleans Saints are going to the Super Bowl), and decide to start up an international basketball team, they will not be calling on your talents. The reason will not be your letter to the Haitian people. It will be based solely on the fact that you have “NO GAME.” But look on the bright side, you were named on a players list. In fact you came in #4. Keep the faith.

  6. Odell - Jan 27, 2010 at 5:22 PM

    Anyone with a sense of decency would turn the light on Paul Shirley i dont think he is a racist like so many ignorant .
    He should start in 1871 might be a bit much but atleast try

  7. dining table - Feb 10, 2010 at 8:47 AM

    Your blog really landed right on the top. wonderful work, I look forward to your next entry.