On Tuesday, The Big Lead reported that Bill Simmons was leaving ESPN NBA Countdown to launch “The Grantland Basketball Show”. The move was later confirmed by ESPN and was immediately received as Simmons once again flexing his muscles and expanding his empire. But Bob Raissman of the NY Daily News tells a different story.
According Raissman, Simmons didn’t leave NBA Countdown on his own accord. Instead, he was forced out by an unlikely figure: Sage Steele.
Raissman contends that Steele “refused to take Simmons’ crap”. That forced ESPN executives to make a decision – risk losing Steele as the host Countdown needs or send Simmons packing to his own show. The latter happened.
Skilled and schooled in the art of face saving, ESPN suits buried the fact they bounced Bill Simmons from his “NBA Countdown” throne deep in a press release hailing his new Grantland hoops show.
The real headline here should have been this: Simmons loses power struggle to Sage Steele. ESPN to debut entirely new “Countdown” cast.
As for the show sans Simmons, Raissman expects Doug Collins and Jalen Rose to return. While if ESPN decides to replace Simmons, Stephen A. Smith is a strong possibility.