Mr. Shirley - who played for the Chicago Bulls, Atlanta Hawks, and Phoenix Suns, but now blogs for various websites – strayed from sports writing yesterday to pen a nearly 2,000-word piece shaming Haitians and those who have donated to the beleaguered island nation in the wake of the 7.0 earthquake that leveled country's capital, Port-au-Prince, killed an estimated 150,000 people, and left more than a million homeless.
"I haven’t donated a cent to the Haitian relief effort. And I probably will not," wrote Mr. Shirley on the Flip Collective website. "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."
Now, apparently, sports broadcaster ESPN doesn't believe Shirley deserves a cent, at least not as a part-time freelance blogger for the network's website.
"The views [Shirley] expressed on another site of course do not at all reflect our company's views on the Haiti relief efforts. He will no longer contribute to ESPN," said the network in a short statement posted on its website.
As part of his piece, Shirley included a letter he wished "the rest of the world" would send to Haiti:
Dear Haitians –
First of all, kudos on developing the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Your commitment to human rights, infrastructure, and birth control should be applauded.
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?
The Rest of the World
Shirley's piece has caused a firestorm online, with some agreeing and others outraged.
"I’m glad to see someone has the courage to speak the truth," wrote one person in the comment section underneath his piece. "Why should all the world pour millions of dollars into a money pit without expecting anything in return? There’s been no accountability on any level in Haiti and that just defies logic."
Others, though, find his comments beneath reproach.
"If you're angry at Shirley, you're doing it all wrong. If you're calling for Shirley to never write for ESPN again, you're doing it all wrong. You should be laughing," writes blogger Ta-Nehisi Coates on The Atlantic's website. "Paul Shirley doesn't deserve your rage--better men than him have worked harder and longer to earn your rage."