NBA hall-of-famer Magic Johnson has been great to hear on NBA Countdown every week before a primetime NBA game was about to begin. Being arguably the greatest point guard to ever play the game, his analysis and opinion is always a great soundbite, but you won’t be hearing those anymore on ESPN.
It was announced this week that both he and Michael Wilbon were leaving NBA Countdown. citing “scheduling conflicts”. There were indeed “conflicts”, but it appears those weren’t with a schedule, but fellow Countdown analyst Bills Simmons.
ESPN sources tell us that Johnson’s departure was the result of an old-fashioned power war, with one very clear winner: Bill Simmons. “It’s Simmons’s show now,” said one source.
Magic apparently was not at all happy when ESPN told his buddy Michael Wilbon that his role on NBA Countdown would be diminished. He was “booted,” according to one source. 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.
“The bottom line is they turned that show over to Simmons,” said our source. “That’s why Doug Collins got hired and why Wilbon was out.”