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Mike Greenberg, Stephen A Smith, Michael Eaves Join NBA Countdown

Greenburg will be joined by Stephen A. Smith, Magic Johnson, Michael Wilbon, and Jalen Rose for the ”biggest games” on NBA Countdown.

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After months of speculation as to what the NBA Countdown cast would look like, ESPN finally gave us the answer that fans have been waiting for.

Andrew Marchand reports that Mike Greenberg will be the replacement for former NBA Countdown host Maria Taylor. Greenberg will be joined by Stephen A. Smith, Magic Johnson, Michael Wilbon, and Jalen Rose for the ”biggest games” on NBA Countdown according to sources from Marchand.

There were reports that Rose’s role on the show had been in question, but he will be returning for his 10th season on ESPN’s biggest NBA studio show. He is the only returning panelist from past seasons.

Stephen A Smith had been pushing for a ”dream team” cast of himself, Michael Wilbon, and Magic Johnson and it appears that he has gotten his wish.

It is unclear what capacity that Magic Johnson will play on the show. Andrew Marchand reports that he will be on frequently, though it will be less than his partners on the show.

Adrian Wojnarowski, a panelist last year on the show will be reverting back to more of an insider role on the show, breaking news and offering other information rather than his own opinions like he did last year.

ESPN’s Wednesday Countdown shows will also have a new look with SportsCenter‘s Michael Eaves handling the hosting duties, joined by Richard Jefferson, Kendrick Perkins and Chiney Ogwumike. 

Wojnarowski will also have a role on that show as a reporter alongside fellow reporters Malika Andrews and Mark Spears.

BSM’s Demetri Ravanos predicted a ”bloodbath” coming for ESPN back in August. While we may not be seeing that entirely, new Director of NBA Production Dave Roberts has certainly been shaking up all things NBA for the network to get the most star power they can on their premiere NBA shows.

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Kay Adams: Pat McAfee Has Built ‘The Dream’

“it’s interesting because he’s built himself to such a place that he does not need anyone and that is the dream.”

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Many in sports media have respect for former NFL punter Pat McAfee for what he has accomplished in his media endeavors, and you can add FanDuel TV host Kay Adams to that list.

“I’m just blown away by the success and by the leverage he has,” Adams said on the My Other Passion podcast. “It is uncanny, it is aspirational, and it is self-made, so it is a beautiful thing. I — of course — watch what he does. I don’t want to be just like him but I do think he is so disruptive.

“He has such a chip on his shoulder. It drives him but I almost wish I could see it relieved a little bit. He’s thriving, he’s happy, and I think the thing that sticks out to me about him is that he’s truly grateful. Truly is grateful for everything he has, his opportunities. He’s worked his ass off for it.”

Adams pointed to McAfee’s recent spat with the NFL over use of the league’s logos as an indicator of not only his success but his influence in the sports landscape.

“He is true to himself but he mostly leads with gratitude, which I think is the epitome of success. But he’s out there show you what can be done. He’s the first, but will he be the last to have that sort of platform? That sort of swing? What he does with the NFL the other week, I’m paying attention to that.

“Because I wanna see: is the NFL gonna bend the knee to Pat McAfee? Does the NFL care what he says? But it’s interesting because he’s built himself to such a place that he does not need anyone and that is the dream.”

The NFL did eventually “bend the knee” and reversed course on limiting McAfee’s use of league trademarks.

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John Skipper: Bob Iger’s Return Won’t Effect ESPN

“If you’re going to win the streaming wars, you’re going to have to have sports.”

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There have been many questions about what Bob Iger’s return to Disney will mean for ESPN, but former ESPN President John Skipper believes it won’t change much.

Skipper pointed to Iger’s relationships with powerbrokers in the sports world as a positive, and also believes that the “streaming wars” will be won by those who hold the rights to live sports.

“As a moat, to get the pay-TV fees and to get people to pay more money to subscribe,” Skipper pointed to Sportico as the reason for ESPN to still have an agreement with the NBA for linear TV. He later added “If you’re going to win the streaming wars, you’re going to have to have sports.”

Skipper also said the network used to invest in constant studio programming but said that’s no longer a necessity.

“We did that type of programming because the economics were different at the time,” Skipper said.

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Warner Bros. Discovery Sports President Departs

“His enthusiasm and light-hearted demeanor are among his most endearing qualities, and they will be missed.”

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Lenny Daniels is leaving Warner Bros. Discovery after 27 years with the company.

Daniels is the President of the company’s sports division in the United States, overseeing the contracts and strategic vision for the organization.

In a memo sent to staff obtained by Sports Business Journal, CEO Luis Silberwasser said “While this change will take place right away, Lenny has agreed to work with me to ensure a smooth transition.” He also added “I have enjoyed working with Lenny during these past few months and I respect his decision. Lenny has never been one to place a spotlight on himself; he’s always been quick to shine it on those around him. His enthusiasm and light-hearted demeanor are among his most endearing qualities, and they will be missed.”

The departure by Daniels coincides with a round of layoffs by the company and also the beginning of long-term agreements with the NHL and MLB. The network is also about to embark on negotiations with the NBA for its next media rights deal, with Warner Bros. Discovery CEO and President David Zaslav recently saying “we don’t have to have the NBA“.

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