In news somehow both surprising and unsurprising, ESPN has reportedly tapped Mike Greenberg to replace Maria Taylor as host of NBA Countdown and, by extension, the NBA Finals.
That’s according to a report from Andrew Marchand in the New York Post. It’s unsurprising because ESPN’s answer for a plum hosting vacancy with no obvious internal replacement as recently as this year was to plug in Greenberg. On the other hand, this means that after the Maria Taylor-Rachel Nichols situation ESPN is giving the assignment to a white guy.
Not exclusively, though; Marchand notes that Michael Eaves will host the Wednesday edition of Countdown.
In addition to the hosting change, the panel itself will undergo an overhaul, with Stephen A. Smith, Michael Wilbon, Jalen Rose, and Magic Johnson.
From the Post:
Greenberg will be joined by Stephen A. Smith, Michael Wilbon, Jalen Rose and Magic Johnson for the biggest games, sources said.
ESPN declined comment.
ESPN is banking on some of its biggest daily marquee names to bring panache to its top pregame that is often compared to TNT’s legendary “Inside The NBA.” In its two decades of owning the NBA’s rights, ESPN has constantly made changes on its top studio show.
While Greenberg is one of the faces of ESPN — with a $6.5 million per year contract, daily TV and radio shows and the NFL Draft host — he has never hosted a marquee pregame show for the network.
Meanwhile, Smith, ESPN’s $12 million per year man, has pushed to form his own Countdown “Big 3” with his buddies, Wilbon and Johnson. Smith will get his wish.
Woj will also be on hand, though strictly in an information and news role, according to Marchand. The Wednesday version will feature a different cast, including newly-minted NBA Today host Malika Andrews:
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.
Besides Wojnarowski, Malika Andrews and Marc Spears will be featured reporters on Countdown.
ESPN’s first night of NBA action is Wednesday, October 20th.