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Magic Johnson Leaving ESPN's 'NBA Countdown' Over Time Constraints

Image: Magic Johnson Leaving ESPN's 'NBA Countdown' Over Time Constraints

Thursday, 10 Oct 2013 05:57 PM

By David Ogul

Earvin “Magic” Johnson is leaving his position as an analyst on ESPN’s “NBA Countdown” because of other commitments, ESPN announced on Thursday.

“We appreciate Magic’s contributions and wish him well in his future endeavors,” John Wildhack, ESPN’s executive vice president of production, said in a statement. “We are in the process of determining our NBA commentator roles for the upcoming season.”

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Johnson has bigger fish to fry at the moment, as he is part of an ownership group that last year bought the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers are in St. Louis for the National League Championship Series that starts Friday against the Cardinals. Johnson has been seen almost nightly at Dodger games, often sitting next to former manager Tom Lasorda.

The Hall of Fame point guard, who won five NBA championships with the “Showtime” Los Angeles Lakers in the 1980s and helped lead them to the Finals on five other occasions, has launched a successful business enterprise since hanging up his jersey. His ventures include investing in movie theaters, restaurants, and a production company.

“I love ESPN,” Johnson said in a statement posted on ESPN.com. “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.”

Deadspin, however, is reporting that there’s more behind Johnson’s decision than just a busy schedule. According to a report on the website, sources say “Johnson’s departure was the result of an old-fashioned power war, with one very clear winner: Bill Simmons. 'It’s Simmon’s show now,' said one source.”

Simmons is a sports columnist who also appears on "NBA Countdown" with Johnson.

Not everyone, at least not on Twitter, was bemoaning the decision.

ESPN said that veteran basketball broadcaster Doris Burke will join "NBA Countown’s" cast for the upcoming season, but in a different capacity than Johnson’s.

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Related stories:

Magic Johnson’s Son Comes Out As Gay, Holds Hands With Boyfriend

Magic Johnson Group To Buy Dodgers For Record $2 Billion

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