Former NBA will no longer contribute to network's basketball coverage, effective immediately
Earvin “Magic” Johnson announced on Thursday that he’ll no longer be part of ESPN’s NBA coverage because of other commitments.
Johnson joined the network in 2008 and appeared on ESPN and ABC as a studio and game analyst.
“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,” Johnson said in a statement. “I will always feel a strong connection to the ESPN family and I enjoyed working with them very much.”
Deadspin reported on Thursday that Johnson had become frustrated that ESPN’s Bill Simmons had taken control of the show over the past year.
“It’s Simmons’s show now,” one ESPN source told the site.
Simmons, who also serves as the editor-in-chief of Grantland, joined ESPN’s TV coverage in 2012 and just so happens to be a Boston native and vocal opponent of Johnson’s former team, the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I feel like the biggest problem the show has had over the past couple of years is that everyone was hanging on Magic’s every word,” Simmons said in an interview last year in Entertainment Weekly. “Nobody was challenging him.”
Johnson, an active businessman since retiring in 1991, is part of the Los Angeles Dodgers ownership group and also operates a production company, in addition to owning several movie theaters and restaurants.
ESPN recently hired former 76ers coach and former NBC commentator Doug Collins to join the network’s basketball coverage. Doris Burke, another ESPN vet, will also contribute to “NBA Countdown.”
ESPN declined to comment on the Deadpsin report.