Stephen A. Smith wants Magic Johnson at ESPN. Whether or not he'll get his wish remains to be seen. Andrew Marchand reported today that Smith wanted to team up with Magic and old pal Michael Wilbon, perhaps to do ESPN's NBA Countdown this season.
Smith wants to team up with Johnson, possibly on “NBA Countdown,” the pregame show that leads into the NBA Finals and other marquee games, according to sources.
Smith’s ideal setup would be to have a Big 3 that also includes “Pardon the Interruption” co-host Michael Wilbon, who often works alongside Smith on “SportsCenter.”
As Marchand notes, nothing is finalized, but ESPN is undergoing a complete make-over of its NBA coverage after ousting Rachel Nichols. Nothing is off the table. Throwing Smith onto NBA Countdown with Magic and Wilbon is not the worst of their options by a long shot.
Wilbon can be counted upon to do quality work in front of any camera. Smith's particular brand of fiery takes and ability to provide deep analysis in basketball at a moment's notice is infamous. Magic is the question mark.
I'm told the former Lakers superstar had a talk show called The Magic Hour before my time. I'm also told it was horrendous. Magic's last professional stint did not exactly end well, either, considering he abruptly stepped down as Lakers President of Basketball Operations in perhaps the most bizarre press conference we'll ever see. He's a wild card and his television resume leaves a lot to be desired.
But man oh man, him and Smith jabbering with one another would really make for some fasincating television. Would it be good? Would it be a show basketball viewers would be legitimately happy to watch? Who knows! That's part of the fun. There would be soundbites and clips circulated widely that would make sites like ours flush with new visitors. Regardless of the outcome, that would be true.
So to hell with it. ESPN should do this. At worst we get Smith and Magic clowning off one another. At best the network enjoys the ratings that comes along with a brand name like Magic appearing on TV and an entertaining camaraderie that could help ESPN make up ground on TNT's beloved Inside The NBA crew. The Worldwide Leader is in a state of flux right now with its basketball coverage and doesn't really have anything to lose. Why not?