NBA Hall-of-Famer Earvin Magic” Johnson announced, on Oct. 10, that he is leaving his beloved ESPN because of other priorities that will keep him from continuing in his role as an NBA analyst for the season that begins Oct. 29th.
Johnson, a five-time NBA champion and three-time MVP, 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.”
Johnsonis part of the ownership group that agreed to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers in March 2012. Since retiring from basketball, he has been successful in business, investing in movie theaters, a production company and restaurants. He also has been an activist in the fight against HIV after being diagnosed with the virus in 1991.
Johnson expanded his role on ESPN to join "NBA Countdown" in 2011. Deadspin reported that Johnson had become frustrated that Bill Simmons has taken over the show.
“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.”
Earlier this week, ESPN announced the hiring of former 76ers coach Doug Collins as an analyst on a number of NBA shows. Collins was expected to work alongside Johnson on those shows.
In another development, Doris Burke, longtime NBA and college basketball analyst/sideline reporter for ESPN, will be working one day per week on "NBA Countdown."
"We appreciate Magic's contributions and wish him well in his future endeavors," John Wildhack, ESPN's executive vice president, production, said in a statement. "We are in the process of determining our NBA commentator roles for the upcoming season."