Michael Kay blasts ESPN for Doc Rivers situation Photo credit: YES Network

As ESPN endures Doc Rivers ditching their lead NBA broadcast before the honeymoon even ended, Michael Kay ripped the network for looking awful.

ESPN attempted to revamp what was widely considered the best broadcast booth in the NBA over the summer by parting ways with Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson to pair returning play-by-play voice Mike Breen with Doris Burke and Doc Rivers. But the revamped booth didn’t even last a season, with Rivers officially leaving ESPN to be head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks. And according to Breen’s good friend Michael Kay, the series of events was a terrible look for ESPN.

“I love this company, they’ve been really good to me for 22 years,” Kay said of ESPN while on his ESPN New York radio show. “They have egg on their face with the Doc Rivers situation. They just do.”

Kay proceeded to say that part of why ESPN reportedly moved on from Van Gundy and Jackson over the summer was because the company feared both analysts pursuing head coaching jobs. Three months into the season, they lost Rivers to a head coaching job.

“Broke up the best booth in professional sports. Sorry. The best,” he said definitively on The Michael Kay Show. “And you got Doc Rivers and Doris Burke. Doc Rivers interviewed for the Bucks job (in the offseason), you don’t think Doc Rivers wanted to be a coach again? He leaves midseason. Their booth now is Mike and Doris for the NBA Finals. You think that was a smart play by ESPN? I’m sorry, there might be bosses that will be upset, but they look terrible! And on top of that, the news was broken by CNN? Doc Rivers who you paid a boat load of money to be your top analyst didn’t even give you the story first?”

It would certainly seem like Rivers should have been courteous enough to give ESPN the scoop that he was heading to Milwaukee, and it remains possible that he intended to, but was jumped by CNN before the deal was done. CNN, oddly enough, was first to confirm Rivers was leaving ESPN for the Bucks job, although whether or not they intended to break the news remains murky.

“It’s an awful look,” Kay continued. “You broke up Van Gundy, Jackson and Breen. You put together this group which still hasn’t gelled, and now he’s gone. So, what do you do?”

You move forward with Mike Breen and Doris Burke. They don’t have the chemistry that Breen, Van Gundy and Jackson built over the crew’s near two decades together, but you can certainly still make the argument that Breen and Burke are the best national broadcast team in the NBA.

That doesn’t take away from the fact that ESPN has egg on their face. Everyone knew Rivers was going to chase another coaching job, probably before Jackson or Van Gundy. Few would have expected that coaching opportunity to come this soon, but if ESPN is surprised to see Rivers leave broadcasting for the sideline, they’re the only ones.

[The Michael Kay Show]

About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to bcontes@thecomeback.com