When word spread that Magic Johnson was leaving ESPN’s NBA Countdown, many were shocked. Magic is slightly better at basketball than your FishbowlNY editors, so his presence would seem to be a good thing. But nevertheless, he issued a statement that he was departing. Almost immediately, a report surfaced that Bill Simmons forced Johnson out in order to gain more power over the show. Simmons told Sports Illustrated that the rumor was completely false:
Those unnamed ‘sources’ are liars. Someone planted a fake story to try to make me look bad, and there’s a 99.3 percent chance it came from someone in Bristol (which presents its own set of concerns). I was upset; I can’t lie. Maybe this happens to people more often than I realize, and maybe it comes with the territory, but man … I can’t properly explain how fantastic it was to watch basketball with Magic for nine months.
Simmons goes on about the incident for quite some time, and for what it’s worth, we believe him. Does Simmons really need more power at ESPN? The guy is ESPN. And even if Simmons did want the show to be “his,” wouldn’t he realize that there are enough Simmons haters out there that word would leak that he was behind it?
Whatever the truth is, one thing we learned from all this is that the bigger the media personality, the bigger the media rumor.