Like many pro athletes, Pierce aspires to enter a sports-media or entertainment-biz career of some sort after his playing days come to a close, and he can’t think of a better way to start the transition than by flashing some personality in the buzzy ESPN spots. “I want to stay around the game of basketball, so I have to show you guys my many talents,” he rasps. “It’s a lot harder to do than you think. I was nervous, man.” Pierce then darts off to perform before another set of cameras, where Jimmy Kimmel Live! sidekick Guillermo, clad in chaps and a cowboy hat, runs him through a spirited stupid-question drill.
The day ends with Shaq, fresh from his near-concussive adventure in the outside RV, venturing inside for a Scrabble-themed spot. After mock shushing the set, Shaq runs up the points on the ESPN crew using Oxford Dictionary–approved words like Shaqalicious and Shaqtastic. “Take your whupping like a man. Breathe,” he whispers faux-menacingly.
Half an hour later, Shaq emerges from the RV, dons a headset, and approaches one of the monitors. His body convulses with laughter as he watches a playback of the final take. Maybe he’ll have a lump on his head when he wakes up tomorrow morning, but you get the impression that he won’t mind one bit.