After a false start, ESPN has finalized their ESPN/ABC KIA NBA Countdown show by adding Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose, the network formally announced on Thursday.
Originally, Simmons was reportedly going to join Stan Van Gundy on the show, but when FishbowlLA contacted ESPN last month, they were unable to confirm the news. The former Orlando Magic head coach explained last week the reason why he didn’t get the job had to do with NBA commissioner David Stern, who reportedly nixed the idea.
Rose, the former NBA star, passed the Stern test and will join his Grantland boss along with Michael Wilbon and Magic Johnson.
Jon Barry will return to calling games on ESPN and Chris Broussard will server as a reporter for ESPN’s NBA coverage along with this regular writing duties.
“The unique, diverse perspectives of our new commentator team fit perfectly with the show’s free-flowing format,” Mark Gross, ESPN senior vice president and executive producer, said in a statement. “Bill brings a deep knowledge of the league past and present, an entertaining style and an ability to articulate his inventive thoughts from a fan’s point of view. Jalen’s lengthy playing experience and his strong, informed opinions will give fans great insight into how and why things happen on the court. They join a team that includes one of the greatest players of all time and one of our most versatile and engaging commentators.”
The new quartet will make their debut on Friday, Nov. 2 before ESPN’s season-opening doubleheader: Miami Heat/N.Y. Knicks at 8 p.m.; L.A. Clippers/L.A. Lakers at 10:30 p.m.