Magic Johnson is leaving ESPN’s “NBA Countdown” and
Bill Simmons is the reason why, Deadspin’s Josh Koblin reports
According to Deadspin, ESPN turned the show over to Simmons. Host Michael Wilbon was given a diminished role as a result. And Johnson decided to walk away.
“Another ESPN insider also said that Magic was ‘privately seething over the Wilbon thing and in general did not like that Simmons held all the power and influence.’ Magic didn’t necessarily need the power, our sources explained; he just didn’t feel like kowtowing to Simmons when he’s, well, Magic Johnson.”
Simmons has a ton of creative freedom at ESPN, and for good reason. Two of the company’s biggest critical successes — Grantland and the 30 For 30 documentary series — were spearheaded by Simmons.
He has good ideas and knows how to execute them.
“NBA Countdown” had issues last year. Magic was the stereotype of the fake-laughing ex-athlete TV host. There was also a clash between the casual style of Simmons and Jalen Rose and the more self-serious style of Wilbon.
If ESPN is putting the show in Simmons’ hands, as Deadspin is reporting, that’s a smart move.
Johnson said in a statement, “I love ESPN. Unfortunately, due to the nature of my schedule and other commitments, I don’t feel confident that I can continue to devote the time needed to thrive in my role.”
Simmons issued an ambiguous denial:
My first experience today with someone writing a “sources” report about me that’s not true. Part amusing, part horrifying.
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) October 10, 2013
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