NBA: Magic Johnson Not Returning to ESPN

Pro basketball Hall-of-Famer and Los Angeles Dodgers part owner Earvin "Magic" Johnson says he is stepping down from his post in ESPN"s "NBA Countdown," citing time constraints.

Oct 10 2013, 8:32pm CDT | by

NBA: Magic Johnson Not Returning to ESPN
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Earvin "Magic" Johnson's days as an ESPN studio analyst are over. 

An ESPN update on Oct. 10 says Johnson has left his post as an analyst of the network's NBA Countdown program due to his other commitments.  

Aside from being a part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, he is running several companies, a cable channel and a prepaid card firm. He is also an activist in the fight against HIV and an in-demand speaker. 

Johnson, who made his debut with the network five years ago, released a statement expressing his regrets but also stressed how much he enjoyed working for ESPN. 

"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. 

"I will always feel a strong connection to the ESPN family and I enjoyed working with them very much."

John Wildhack, ESPN's executive vice president for production, said,"We appreciate Magic's contributions and wish him well in his future endeavors."

With Johnson's departure, the network announced the hiring of college and NBA basketball analyst Doris Burke. She will be appearing in NBA Countdown once per week. 

Johnson's agent, Lon Rosen, "refuted a Deadspin report that said Johnson abruptly left the show because of colleague Bill Simmons' growing influence over the show and Michael Wilbon's diminished role in NBA coverage, which included Doug Collins replacing Wilbon on NBA Countdown," per USA Today Sports.

Rosen told the newspaper that Johnson and Simmons are "very close."  

"Magic and Bill Simmons got to be very close and continue to be close. Bill Simmons and Earvin Johnson are friends. Earvin's close to Bill. called Bill before the release went out.

"Bill has been to parties at Earvin's house. He's been to Dodgers games with Bill. He likes Bill a lot."

Johnson is part of the ownership group that bought the Dodgers in March 2012. On top of being a Pro Basketball Hall of Famer, he has five NBA championship rings with the Los Angeles Lakers and three NBA MVP awards.

ESPN also hired former Chicago Bulls and Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doug Collins to work as an analyst on several of its NBA programs. He was envisioned to work alongside Johnson prior to him leaving. 


Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.


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