Last October, it sounded like big things were on the horizon between Magic Johnson and ESPN. Now, it appears the NBA legend has better things to do.
ESPN included Johnson in its announcement of the new NBA Countdown broadcasting crew in October, saying at the time that “Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson will frequently appear as an analyst and will join the team for marquee events throughout the regular season, NBA Playoffs and NBA Finals.”
This also came on the heels of a report that Stephen A. Smith wanted to form a “Big 3” with Johnson and Michael Wilbon for NBA pregame segments, amongst other things.
Since then, Johnson has been MIA from NBA Countdown aside from one appearance in early March. And according to the NY Post’s Andrew Marchand, there are no plans to bring him into the fold during the NBA Finals.
Marchand asked ESPN why Johnson hasn’t appeared as advertised and got a boilerplate response.
“There have been unexpected scheduling conflicts as Magic continues to expand his business commitments,” said Dave Roberts, ESPN’s head of NBA and studio production. “While our new NBA Countdown team has been exceptional this season, we have a great relationship with Magic and the door is always open to work together.”
Marchand added that a source told him Johnson “would be amenable to working with ESPN again or appearing on its shows,” but for now it sounds as though he’ll be focused on his “business commitments.”
It’s not as though Johnson hasn’t been involved with ESPN recently. He went on an ESPN media tour in early April, appearing on Get Up and First Take, to drive home the narrative that LeBron James shares blame for the Los Angeles Lakers’ disappointing season. However, that didn’t translate to any appearance on NBA Countdown.