ESPN & ABC NBA Pregame Show Moving to L.A.; Expanded Role for Magic Johnson
Kia NBA Countdown, the NBA pregame show airing on both ESPN and ABC, will originate from the ESPN Los Angeles Production Center at L.A. LIVE – across the street from STAPLES Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers – beginning Christmas Day, Sunday, Dec. 25, at 2 p.m. ET.
Additionally, Hall of Famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson will expand his ESPN responsibilities this season. Johnson will be a featured analyst – joining Jon Barry, Michael Wilbon and Chris Broussard – on Kia NBA Countdown (both ESPN and ABC) throughout the entire season. Johnson will also continue to conduct one-on-one interviews with some of the NBA’s biggest stars and provide analysis on SportsCenter and other ESPN news and information shows.
“We’re reinventing our NBA pregame experience with a new studio and a less scripted, more dynamic show,” said Norby Williamson, executive vice president, production. “We’re thrilled Magic has agreed to expand his role and look forward to his consistent presence throughout the entire season.”
“It’s been a lot of fun working with ESPN and its NBA team the last four years,” said Johnson. “I’ve enjoyed it so much I’m looking forward to making even more appearances this season and I’m very excited about the show moving to L.A.”
Kia NBA Countdown will include several new elements this season:
§ a lively roundtable format offering strong opinions, discussion and debate centered on the games about to tip off and top storylines around the league
§ increased access to some of the NBA’s biggest stars
§ re-occurring segments, such as those incorporated into ESPN’s NBA season preview shows (e.g. trade him/keep him, step up/step back)
§ increased interaction with fans via social media (e.g. commentators will more frequently answer fan questions submitted using social media)
Kia NBA Countdown is generally televised leading into ESPN’s NBA games on Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the season and preceding NBA Sunday game broadcasts on ABC.
SportsCenter recently televised a five-part series which offered a glimpse of the new Kia NBA Countdown:
Video (click image)
On Miami’s title chances:
Magic – “The only way the Heat win, it must be LeBron James’ team. He must dominate the ball. He must get everybody into the flow of the game because he was the man for seven seasons in Cleveland. He always had the ball in his hands. He must have it in his hands to be effective. He must dominate the action in Miami.
“If they don’t win it this season, one of the big three will have to go. Their window is right now. LeBron’s window is right now.”
On LeBron James:
Barry – “LeBron James is more like Magic Johnson than Michael Jordan. He’s a combination of the two. Yes, it has to be his team, but they are at their best when Dwyane Wade is their No. 1 scorer. LeBron needs to play more as a point guard, more like Magic Johnson, where he still can dominate the game.”
On the Lakers’ title hopes:
Magic – “The Lakers are not the best team in the West. Dallas is first and Oklahoma City is second. A couple things have to happen – first, an upgrade at the point guard position because the West is loaded with great point guards; second, the players must make a commitment to winning again because there are too many distractions. Lakers fans do not like that. What they want is a commitment to winning and, if Coach Brown can get them committed to winning and to each other, that’s going to be a big improvement from last season…the locker room has to get better as well.”
On Oklahoma City:
Magic – “Oklahoma City is the team to look out for because they have the best player in the game in Kevin Durant. It’s his team now and they have an emerging star in Russell Westbrook if he learns how to get everybody involved. This team is the one to look out for, especially in the West.”
On the Celtics’ title aspirations:
Magic – “Doc Rivers is a great coach, but the window is closed because Miami is a better defensive team and the Chicago Bulls are a better defensive team with younger legs and more talent.”
Barry – “I like this team. That series against the Miami Heat was much closer than people give it credit. LeBron James was spectacular and he won that series. I still think the Celtics make a last run. This is it.”
On the Mavericks’ repeat chances – window open/closed:
Magic – “Open, because they have a great coach in Rick Carlisle and a great owner in Mark Cuban who wants to win…as long as you have Dirk Nowitzki on that team you are in good position.
Wilbon – “Even though (they didn’t) sign Tyson Chandler, Mark Cuban is going to find a way and people are going to want to come play with Dirk and the crew.”
On the Knicks:
Barry – “Amare Stoudemire was arguably the MVP of the NBA last year before Carmelo Anthony arrived. He was playing terrific basketball. Landry Fields was arguably the Rookie of the Year and then disappeared off the map.”
Wilbon – “If the Knicks disappoint this year, you know you are going to hear it and where there is smoke there is going to be real fire. Phil Jackson is not retired. He’s preparing himself right now to coach next season. Phil is not going to come in for anybody this season, but you can mark it down. Phil Jackson is going to be coaching in the NBA next season.”