Paul Shirley

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For the California politician, see Paul Shirley (politician).
Paul Shirley
Personal information
Born (1977-12-23) December 23, 1977 (age 39)
Redwood City, California
Nationality American
Listed height 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)
Listed weight 235 lb (107 kg)
Career information
High school Jefferson West (Meriden, Kansas)
College Iowa State (1996–2001)
NBA draft 2001 / Undrafted
Playing career 2001–2008
Position Power forward
Career history
2001–2002 Panionios Athens
2002–2003 Yakima Sun Kings
2002–2003 Atlanta Hawks
2003 Joventut Badalona
2003–2004 Kansas City Knights
2004 Chicago Bulls
2004 UNICS Kazan
2005 Phoenix Suns
2005 Beijing Aoshen Olympians
2007–2008 ViveMenorca
2008 Unicaja Málaga

Paul Murphy Shirley (born December 23, 1977) is an American former professional basketball player who last played for Unicaja Málaga in the Spanish ACB. He is also a writer, with his primary focus on his basketball experiences.

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.[1] He was the author of a blog for entitled "My So-Called Career".[2]

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.[3]


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).[4]

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".[5] 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.[6] A paperback version of the book was released on December 26, 2007.

In 2010, Shirley penned a long blog entry at about Haiti and the consequences of its earthquake. He begins the entry by stating that he has not donated to relief efforts in Haiti and "probably will not... 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."

Shirley added:

"I don’t mean in any way that the Haitians deserved their collective fate. And I understand that it is difficult to plan for the aftermath of an earthquake. However, it is not outside the realm of imagination to think that the citizens of a country might be able to: A) avoid putting themselves into a situation that might result in such catastrophic loss of life. And B) provide for their own aid, in the event of such a catastrophe.

Shouldn’t there be some discourse on how the millions of dollars that are being poured into Haiti will be spent? And at least a slight reprimand for the conditions prior to the earthquake? Some kind of inquisition? Something like this?:

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


Shortly thereafter, ESPN cut ties with Shirley. The company's full statement: "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."[8]


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. ^ "Paul Shirely". Retrieved May 5, 2007. 
  2. ^ Shirley, Paul. "My So-Called Career: Paul Shirley's Basketball Journal". Retrieved January 27, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Chat with Paul Shirley Number 13328". Retrieved May 5, 2007. 
  4. ^ "Paul Shirley". The Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 1, 2009. 
  5. ^ Shirley, Paul. "The Paul Shirley Show". Retrieved May 5, 2007. 
  6. ^ Shirley, Paul (2007). Can I Keep My Jersey?. Random House. ISBN 978-0-345-49570-9. 
  7. ^ Shirley, Paul (January 26, 2010). "If You Rebuild It, They Will Come". Retrieved January 27, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Statement regarding Paul Shirley". ESPN Media Zone. January 27, 2010. Retrieved January 27, 2010. 

External links[edit]