Paul Shirley

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Paul Shirley
Personal information
Born (1977-12-23) December 23, 1977 (age 43)
Redwood City, California
Listed height6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)
Listed weight230 lb (104 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
Career highlights and awards
Stats Edit this at Wikidata at
Stats Edit this at Wikidata at

Paul Murphy Shirley (born December 23, 1977) is an American former professional basketball player who last played for Unicaja Málaga in the Spanish ACB.

Shirley is noted for briefly maintaining an online journal (blog) while playing for the Phoenix Suns in 2004–05. His first journal dealt with a several-day-long road trip,[1] while the second chronicled the Suns' NBA Playoffs run. He was later 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 of 2006, but was cut in training camp before the start of the 2006–07 season. He finished his career in Spain, playing in the ACB for ViveMenorca and Unicaja Malaga.

After Shirley's playing career, he wrote a column for the Spanish newspaper El Pais, maintained a podcast (Short Corner) with Justin Halpern, and founded a writing group in Los Angeles called Writers Blok.[3]

Shirley's first book, Can I Keep My Jersey?,[4] was released in 2007. His second book, Stories I Tell On Dates,[5] came out October 17, 2017. His third book (and first novel), Ball Boy,[6] was released in February of 2021.


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, where he was a National Merit Finalist.[7]

Shirley worked his way from walk-on to three-year starter for the Iowa State 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. Notable teammates included future NBA players Jamaal Tinsley, Kelvin Cato, and Marcus Fizer.

After winning the Big XII's regular-season conference championship,[8] the Cyclones advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA basketball tournament during Shirley's junior season, losing to eventual champion Michigan State. At the end of Shirley's senior year, Iowa State became the fourth number-two seed to lose in the first round of the tournament.[9]

During his college career, Shirley earned three Academic All-Big 12 selections and, in his senior season, was named second-team Academic All-American.[10] He graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering.

After college, the 6'9" Shirley played power forward for thirteen different professional teams including, in the NBA, 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.

Shirley also appeared in NBA preseason games with the Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans Hornets, and Minnesota Timberwolves, and played summer league games with the Timberwolves and Cleveland Cavaliers.

Shirley has three younger brothers, including chartmaker Matt Shirley.[11] He appeared in the film Glory Road (#50 for Iowa, uncredited)[12] and in an episode of the TBS Sitcom Ground Floor (Kevin).[13]

He also produced an unaired television pilot for Twentieth Century Fox called The Twelfth Man.[14]

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".[15] His writing garnered attention from national sports media, as well as other outlets such as Newsweek,[16] The Wall Street Journal,[17] and by ESPN's Bill Simmons.[18]

Shirley's first book, Can I Keep My Jersey?, was published on May 15, 2007 by Random House.[19] It received positive reviews from The Onion's AV Club, which noted that it "deserves a spot next to Ball Four."[20] A paperback version of the book was released on December 26, 2007.[21]

His second book, Stories I Tell On Dates,[22] came out October 17, 2017. A podcast[23] of the same name followed soon after.

His third book, Ball Boy, was released February 2, 2021.[24]

Between 2008 and 2015, Shirley wrote a monthly column about the NBA called "Historias de un Tío Alto" (loosely: "Stories by a Tall Guy") in El Pais.[25]

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.[26] In a 2009 column for, he called the Beatles overrated,[27] 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. Afterward, 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."[28]


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 Shirley's Road Ramblings". Phoenix Suns. Retrieved March 20, 2021.
  2. ^ Shirley, Paul. "My So-Called Career: Paul Shirley's Basketball Journal". Retrieved January 27, 2010.
  3. ^ "ABOUT". writersblok. Retrieved March 20, 2021.
  4. ^ Shirley, Paul (2008). Can I Keep My Jersey?. Random House. ISBN 978-0345495709.
  5. ^ "Stories I Tell On Dates". Retrieved August 29, 2017.
  6. ^ Shirley, Paul (February 2, 2021). Ball Boy. ISBN 978-0578800356.
  7. ^ Berri, David. "Paul Shirley Was Good At Basketball (Sometimes!)". Forbes. Retrieved March 20, 2021.
  8. ^ Writer, Michael Zogg-Daily Staff. "SPORTS MOMENTS: Elite 2000 team wins Big 12 title". Iowa State Daily. Retrieved March 20, 2021.
  9. ^ "Men's Hoops Goes Down to Hampton, 58-57". Iowa State University Athletics. Retrieved March 20, 2021.
  10. ^ "(PDF) - CoSIDA Conference" (PDF). Retrieved March 20, 2021.
  11. ^ Hoff, Madison. "Meet the graphic designer mapping the absurdities of millennial life on incredibly shareable graphs and charts across Instagram". Business Insider. Retrieved March 20, 2021.
  12. ^ "Paul Shirley". The Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 1, 2009.
  13. ^ "Ground Floor". The Internet Movie Database. Retrieved August 29, 2017.
  14. ^ "The Twelfth Man". The Internet Movie Database. Retrieved August 29, 2017.
  15. ^ Shirley, Paul. "The Paul Shirley Show". Retrieved May 5, 2007.
  16. ^ EDT, Newsweek Staff On 5/1/05 at 8:00 PM (May 1, 2005). "BLOGWATCH". Newsweek. Retrieved March 20, 2021.
  17. ^ Online, David RothSpecial to The Wall Street Journal (April 29, 2005). "An NBA Team's 12th Man Is a Star in Blogging World". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved March 20, 2021.
  18. ^ " Page 2 : An SOS for KG's career". Retrieved March 20, 2021.
  19. ^ Shirley, Paul (2007). Can I Keep My Jersey?. Random House. ISBN 978-0-345-49570-9.
  20. ^ "Paul Shirley: Can I Keep My Jersey?: 11 Teams, 5 Countries, And 4 Years In My Life As A Basketball Vagabond". AUX. Retrieved March 20, 2021.
  21. ^ Shirley, Paul (2008). Can I Keep My Jersey. ISBN 978-0345495709.
  22. ^ "Stories I Tell On Dates". Retrieved August 29, 2017.
  23. ^ "Stories I Tell on Dates". Spotify. Retrieved March 20, 2021.
  24. ^ "Untold stories behind the scenes on Hawks, Bulls, Suns with former NBA player Paul Shirley". HoopsHype. February 15, 2021. Retrieved March 20, 2021.
  25. ^ PAÍS, Ediciones EL. "Artículos escritos por Paul Shirley". EL PAÍS (in Spanish). Retrieved March 20, 2021.
  26. ^ "Why I Root for Brent Barry". Slate. Retrieved September 1, 2017.
  27. ^ "Dare I say The Beatles weren't so fab". ESPN. Retrieved September 1, 2017.
  28. ^ "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]