Paul Shirley

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Paul Shirley
Personal information
Born (1977-12-23) December 23, 1977 (age 42)
Redwood City, California
Listed height6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)
Listed weight235 lb (107 kg)
Career information
High schoolJefferson West (Meriden, Kansas)
CollegeIowa State (1996–2001)
NBA draft2001 / Undrafted
Playing career2001–2008
PositionPower forward
Career history
2001–2002Panionios Athens
2002–2003Yakima Sun Kings
2002–2003Atlanta Hawks
2003Joventut Badalona
2003–2004Kansas City Knights
2004Chicago Bulls
2004UNICS Kazan
2005Phoenix Suns
2005Beijing Aoshen Olympians
2008Unicaja Málaga

Paul Murphy Shirley (born December 23, 1977) is a former Iowa State University and professional basketball player who last played for Unicaja Málaga in the Spanish ACB. He is also a writer; his first book, Can I Keep My Jersey?,[1] was released in 2007. His second book, Stories I Tell On Dates,[2] has an announced release date of October 17, 2017.

Shirley is noted for briefly maintaining an online journal while playing for the Phoenix Suns in 2004–05. His first journal dealt with a several-day-long road trip, while the second chronicled the Suns' NBA Playoffs run. After their playoff elimination, the Suns did not re-sign him, as he rarely played in his twelfth man position.[3] He was the author of a blog for entitled "My So-Called Career".[4]

Shirley was signed to a non-guaranteed contract by the Minnesota Timberwolves in early October, but was cut in training camp before the start of the 2006–07 season. On an chat on October 23, Shirley referenced the $10 million, 5-year contract of Mark Madsen as the reason why he was released.[5]


Shirley was born in Redwood City, California and grew up near the small town of Meriden, Kansas. He played high school basketball at Jefferson West High School.

Shirley worked his way from walk-on to three-year starter for the Iowa State Cyclones basketball team. He was coached first by Tim Floyd (until Floyd left the Cyclones to become the head coach of the Chicago Bulls) and then by Larry Eustachy. His notable teammates included future NBA players Jamaal Tinsley, Kelvin Cato, and Marcus Fizer. The Cyclones progressed to the Elite Eight of the NCAA basketball tournament his junior season. In his college career, he earned three Academic All-Big 12 selections and, in his senior season, was named second-team Academic All-American.

After graduating, the 6'10" Shirley played power forward for thirteen different professional teams including the NBA teams the Phoenix Suns, Atlanta Hawks, and the Chicago Bulls, as well as Panionios Athens of the Greek A1 League, Joventut Badalona, ViveMenorca, and Unicaja Málaga of the Spanish ACB League, and UNICS Kazan of the Russian Super League.

He has three brothers who used to live in the Johnson County, Kansas City area, Shirley's off-season home.

He appeared in the film Glory Road (#50 for Iowa, uncredited)[6] and an episode of the TBS Sitcom Ground Floor (Kevin).[7] He also produced a television pilot for Twentieth Century Fox called The Twelfth Man[8]. It never aired.

Writing career[edit]

Shirley's blogs at ESPN and elsewhere contained observations on players, teams, fans, cities, sports media, cheerleaders, the game of basketball, and topics outside the athletic sphere. He commented on topics such as the USA Patriot Act, which he condemned as "[putting] the US on a fast-track to an Orwellian destiny".[9] His writing garnered attention from national sports media, as well as other outlets such as Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, and the British Broadcasting Corporation.[citation needed]

Shirley's first book, entitled Can I Keep My Jersey?, was released on May 15, 2007 from Random House.[10] A paperback version of the book was released on December 26, 2007. His second book, Stories I Tell On Dates,[11] has an announced release date of October 17, 2017.

ESPN dismissal[edit]

Shirley's writings have sometimes been the cause of controversy. In a piece with Neal Pollack, he compared rooting for the San Antonio Spurs to cheering for cancer.[12] In a 2009 column for, he called the Beatles overrated,[13] drawing the ire of fellow music critics. And in 2010, he published a blog questioning the potential efficacy of relief efforts for that year's earthquake in Haiti, writing in part, "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?" Afterwards, he was dismissed by ESPN. The company's full statement read: "He was a part-time freelance contributor. The views he 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."[14]

Between 2008 and 2015 he wrote in the Spanish newspaper El País a monthly column entitled "Stories of a tall guy" ("Historias de un tío alto") on the current basketball and NBA.


Collegiate statistics[edit]

4 Season Totals 109 46 N/A 283 511 1 2 255 373 552 69 58 45 153 N/A 822

Source: and

Professional statistics[edit]

  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high

NBA career statistics[edit]

Regular season[edit]

2002–03 Atlanta 2 0 2.5 .000 .000 .000 0.5 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
2003–04 Chicago 7 0 12.3 .435 .000 .000 2.3 0.6 0.1 0.1 3.0
2004–05 Phoenix 9 0 3.3 .455 .000 .500 0.2 0.3 0.0 0.0 1.3
Career 18 0 6.7 .395 .000 .429 1.1 0.4 0.05 0.05 1.8


  1. ^ "Can I Keep My Jersey?". Random House. Retrieved August 29, 2017.
  2. ^ "Stories I Tell On Dates". Retrieved August 29, 2017.
  3. ^ "Paul Shirley". Retrieved May 5, 2007.
  4. ^ Shirley, Paul. "My So-Called Career: Paul Shirley's Basketball Journal". Retrieved January 27, 2010.
  5. ^ "Chat with Paul Shirley Number 13328". Retrieved May 5, 2007.
  6. ^ "Paul Shirley". The Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 1, 2009.
  7. ^ "Ground Floor". The Internet Movie Database. Retrieved August 29, 2017.
  8. ^ "The Twelfth Man". The Internet Movie Database. Retrieved August 29, 2017.
  9. ^ Shirley, Paul. "The Paul Shirley Show". Retrieved May 5, 2007.
  10. ^ Shirley, Paul (2007). Can I Keep My Jersey?. Random House. ISBN 978-0-345-49570-9.
  11. ^ "Stories I Tell On Dates". Retrieved August 29, 2017.
  12. ^ "Why I Root for Brent Barry". Slate. Retrieved September 1, 2017.
  13. ^ "Dare I say The Beatles weren't so fab". ESPN. Retrieved September 1, 2017.
  14. ^ "Statement regarding Paul Shirley". ESPN Media Zone. January 27, 2010. Archived from the original on January 29, 2010. Retrieved January 27, 2010.

External links[edit]