Adam Silver Credit: The Old Man and the Three

ESPN has a new top NBA booth this year with longtime head coach Doc Rivers and Hall of Fame broadcaster Doris Burke flanking trusty play-by-play man Mike Breen. And while some insiders believed that change may have been pushed by the NBA, commissioner Adam Silver this week said it was not.

“Despite what was written even about some talent changes at ESPN, the league does not have a say there,” Silver said on The Old Man and the Three podcast with JJ Redick. “What we do have a say in is the schedule itself.”

NBA game analysts Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson were both part of this summer’s ESPN layoffs. Both had been in the top NBA booth and called the NBA Finals together for nearly a decade. Because of the sudden change to a reliable broadcast team, rumors formed around why it happened.

Bill Simmons, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo and others that stated the league office did not like Van Gundy’s criticism of officials and rules and forced ESPN to fire him.

But Silver wants fans to know neither he nor anyone at the NBA forced those changes.

Rivers and Burke present a more analytical booth than Van Gundy and Jackson. Even if his dismissal was above-board, Van Gundy had a reputation even among fans for being overly fussy and pedantic on broadcasts. Jackson was not much of a draw.

And in fairness to ESPN and the NBA, Rivers and Burke likely cost less because they do not have the seniority in their roles that Van Gundy and Jackson brought to the payroll. If cost-cutting was the plan, maybe this move helped.

However, Silver’s dismissiveness falls flat, too. It can’t be a coincidence that so many sports media vets caught wind of the same rumor at the same time.

The truth may be somewhere in the middle. The NBA likely made its feelings known about Van Gundy over time. And ESPN likely knew letting him go would curry favor with one of its biggest sports league partners. Especially at a time when ESPN is hunting for sports leagues to become investors in its company.

[JJ Redick on YouTube]

About Brendon Kleen

Brendon is a Media Commentary staff writer at Awful Announcing. He has also covered basketball and sports business at Front Office Sports, SB Nation, Uproxx and more.