Thursday, October 10, 2013

Who Replaces Magic Johnson on ESPN?

Magic Johnson shocked ESPN and the media world when he announced that he was leaving NBA Countdown due to his schedule becoming too hectic. While I dont doubt that Magic's schedule is pretty hectic, I doubt that was his main reason for leaving.

The Big Lead's Jason McIntyre points out that Mike Wilbon and Magic Johnson had a very close relationship and now that Wilbon has been redirected to solely doing essays on SportsCenter in regards to the NBA, he may not have felt as comfortable with younger counterparts like Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose, as Deadspin is reporting.

Maybe it was really a ploy by ESPN to turn Countdown into a Grantland enterprise or maybe just maybe we're really hearing the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Who knows?

With that being said, there are a lot of candidates both internally and externally who are eligible to take over.

1.  Doris Burke - She has hosting chops and obviously knows a lot about basketball. She's also not as strong of a personality as Bill and Jalen and will be able to parlay to them and let them shine.

2. Avery Johnson - He talks and sounds funny and would be able to add more personality to the show, which is something essential to sports studio shows.

3. Stephen A. Smith - Smith doesn't seem to be ashamed of being a part of First Take, but he doesn't like the fact that his name has been tarnished because of the embrace debate format which many view very critically. Smith would add insider value and could provide some entertaining hostility to the show. It would be a full circle move for him.

4. Chris Webber - this is my wildcard pick but I'm sure Webber was disappointed that Shaq got a spot on Inside the NBA over him despite a lack of NBA analyst experience. Although TNT seems to be priming him to be Charles Barkley's protege in case Barkley leaves TNT some time soon, Webber might want more prominence on TV right now. And how epic would it be to get the biggest stars of Michigan's Fab 5 together again full time?

Magic is most likely going to fall back in terms of the amount of TV appearances he makes analyzing basketball but you can't convince me that he's all the way out. I think he'll probably make appearances once in a whole possibly on either NBATV or Time Warner Cable SportsNet (whose launching he was a big part of in terms of promotion for the network) through a contributor deal. I wouldn't rule out Fox either since they're located in LA, even though he'd be a little bit of a traitor if he made that move.

The type of analysis Magic provides warrants him being on TV once in a while. He still makes a lot of good points but he doesn't provide the depth needed to be an analyst every week.

In my opinion, he needs to be worried about building up Aspire, his TV Network, which faces extreme competition from BET, TV One and Bounce TV. Aspire, so far, has failed to make a name for itself or cause a dent in African American's TV viewing habits. (SIDENOTE: Magic and Arsenio are good friends, why not invest in becoming a producing partner/acquiring rights to broadcast his show the day after they air as well as classic episodes of Arsenio.)

Because of this network and his other businesses which keep him busy, I wouldn't even be surprised if he leaves the basketball analysis business altogether.

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