HoopsHype Bill Simmons rumors

June 4, 2014 Updates

“And I really didn’t say what they thought I was saying,” he went on. “You know, the game was on ESPN. I was saying ‘Bill Simmons,’ that’s what I was saying. I saw him sitting right across from me. In basketball, especially the playoffs, there’s nothing more exciting than playoff basketball, playoff hockey. And so emotions fly high, and you maybe say some things that you don’t mean, but it’s all a matter of the intensity and how hard and how much you want to win for your fans.” Washington Post

May 2, 2014 Updates

The NBA's current TV deals with ABC/ESPN and TNT run through the 2015-2016 season, and Fox Sports and even NBC are expected to bid aggressively for subsequent rights. "My contract expires next year. If ESPN doesn't have the broadcast rights to the NBA, it will make me re-evaulate what I should do next. I want to work for whoever has the NBA." Deadspin.com

February 14, 2014 Updates

Comcast SportsNet New England confirmed the scoop Mike Gorman dropped during an interview on The Sports Hub’s “Toucher and Rich” this week. ESPN’s Bill Simmons will join him as the color analyst when the Celtics visit the Lakers next Friday. Simmons, whose many roles at ESPN include serving as an analyst on its NBA studio programming, has done in-game commentary on occasion on certain college and NBA broadcasts in the past. Boston Globe

December 27, 2013 Updates
November 23, 2013 Updates
October 22, 2013 Updates

In addition to signing a contract extension with ESPN, Sage Steele has accepted the host’s role for the network’s “NBA Countdown” pregame show. Steele replaces Michael Wilbon, who will focus more on his “Pardon The Interruption” show. She will work the Friday and Sunday editions on the shown on ESPN and ABC. Returning analysts Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons will be joined by new hire Doug Collins. Albany Times Union

October 17, 2013 Updates
October 14, 2013 Updates

Deadspin reported last Thursday, via unnamed sources, that you were responsible for Magic Johnson being removed from Countdown. What is your response to that assertion? Bill Simmons: 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. I brought my dad to our show for the whole day once and he absolutely loved it. He just couldn't believe they paid me to watch hoops with Magic. One of Magic's best qualities is that he always makes an outsider like that feel special and [feel as if] they connected with him -- I probably watched him do it with 50 people last year. To see Magic do that for my father was something else. SI.com

Bill Simmons: He's just an amazing person. When [Johnson's agent] Lon [Rosen] told me Magic was leaving, I actually got pissed at myself that I didn't appreciate those nine months more. Our interview with LeBron after Game 7 [of the NBA Finals] -- seeing the affection that LeBron and Magic had for one another, getting LeBron to open up a little, and being part of that moment in NBA history -- was one of the five or six highlights of my career. Jimmy Kimmel wanted me to write a book about a season watching basketball with Magic -- he was endlessly fascinated that I spent 8-12 hours a week with someone like that. Magic is a story jukebox. We'd be bored sitting there watching some sh-- game and I'd liven things up by asking, "Magic, what was the best fight you ever saw in a game?" and he'd pause dramatically, then he'd launch into some awesome five-minute story and do all the voices and everything. Remember, Magic's life intersected with just about every relevant NBA player and celebrity from the past 40 years. He has an endless well of stories. I probably heard two percent of them. My wife had a running joke -- I'd come home from doing a show, walk through the front door and she'd immediately mock me in my voice (not hard to do), "I can't believe I get to work with Magic Johnson" before I even said anything. SI.com

Bill Simmons: Anyway, that's why the "report" upset me so much -- it wasn't just that someone made it up (and how disturbing that is), but how I felt in real life was the exact opposite of what that "report" portrayed. I felt blindsided when Magic left. I thought he was quitting on the show, and I guess on me, too. I took it personally. But then I thought about the whole Dodgers thing (and how into those games he was), and it made more sense and I got over it. Regardless, I will miss spending time with him every week. Jalen and I nicknamed him "Mogul" for "Hall of Fame Mogul." We were like little kids around him. In retrospect, maybe that wasn't the ideal dynamic for a studio show, but I thought we were getting better at challenging him while also respecting him and everything he accomplished. Year 2 would have been better than Year 1. SI.com

How much influence, if any, did you have in NBA Countdown's on-air talent comings and goings? Bill Simmons: Zero. I didn't think I was coming back. I wasn't happy during the last two playoff rounds; I didn't feel like they cared about the show enough and had some other issues that I won't rehash. And I felt like I had done a lousy job with my family and with Grantland in April-May-June. So I decided to wait a month or so before I told them officially, but in my head, I was gone. They probably thought I was leaving, too. They weren't going to listen to someone who wasn't coming back -- and besides, Bristol doesn't listen to on-air talent about on-air talent decisions, anyway. That's a point of pride for them. Ask anyone. But as I decompressed during the summer and started feeling like a normal person again, I realized that my schedule burned me out. And, in the irony of ironies, I didn't want to give up working with Magic yet. So I asked to do Fridays and Sundays during the season, and I asked if we could stay in L.A. for the conference finals (so I wasn't on the road for six straight weeks, including the draft). They agreed and then I had to spend the next few days convincing my wife to let me do it. She's still not totally convinced, by the way. If I end up getting divorced, I'm just going to move in with Jalen and we'll sell the ensuing sitcom to ABC. SI.com

October 10, 2013 Updates

Johnson's agent, Lon Rosen, refuted a Deadspin report that said Johnson abruptly left the show because of colleague Bill Simmons' growing influence over the show and Michael Wilbon's diminished role in NBA coverage, which included Doug Collins replacing Wilbon on NBA Countdown. "Magic and Bill Simmons got to be very close and continue to be close," Rosen told USA TODAY Sports. "Bill Simmons and Earvin Johnson are friends. Earvin's close to Bill. We called Bill before the release went out. Bill has been to parties at Earvin's house. He's been to Dodgers game with Bill. He likes Bill a lot." USA Today Sports

In an e-mail to USA TODAY Sports, Simmons wrote, "I loved getting to know Magic these past 12 months and was saddened to hear about his decision. We genuinely liked working with one another. Last night Lon Rosen and I were already talking about other possible projects that Magic and I could do together down the road. He's my friend. And a GREAT guy." Simmons tweeted, "My first experience today with someone writing a "sources" report about me that's not true. Part amusing, part horrifying." USA Today Sports

October 8, 2013 Updates

Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose of the Grantland Network do not want to hear that, though. They say Rondo is long gone almost as soon as other teams see that he can still walk. “Clairvoyant Bill thinks Rajon Rondo has 20 games or less left as a Boston Celtic,” Simmons tells Rose in their Celtics preview video. “This is why we give the people what they want,” Rose replies, later adding that “he will be traded.” “What you just described is the worst-kept secret in the NBA,” Rose goes on. “Once you trade Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, the year before [you lose] Ray Allen, you lose Doc Rivers, the next obvious domino is Rajon Rondo.” Simmons concludes by saying, “Don’t leave one room in the blown-up house and be like, ‘Nah, I’m going to keep the living room.’ You blow up the house.” NESN.com

July 31, 2013 Updates

Bill Simmons: The day after we exchanged barbs during the NBA draft, Doc and I talked for 45 minutes on the phone and agreed to disagree on how the Boston thing ended. He truly believes the Celtics didn't want him to come back or pay him all that money as they were rebuilding. I don't buy it, as I told him — I thought that they didn't want to pay him that money once they believed he didn't want to be there. Also, I told him that I thought he didn't want to rebuild for a third time, and that the thought of coaching a contender and starting fresh in Los Angeles — where he gets to pick his own players, no less — was overwhelmingly enticing for him. He actually agreed with that. He just doesn't think he quit on the Celtics — he thinks the situation ran its course. So it's a he-said, he-said thing. We're never going to agree on what happened, but one thing is clear: In the long run, both sides are better off. Grantland

June 28, 2013 Updates

On Thursday, Simmons berated Rivers for his departure from the Celtics last week, saying “the truth keeps changing.” Simmons added: “When he sticks to a story, I’ll believe the truth.” Well, Rivers gave the ‘real story’ to Patrick Friday. Here is his answer: It’s not that hard of a story. They wanted to unload contracts for draft picks. I happened to be one of those contracts. This is a direct quote from an owner: Listen, this is a win-win for us. If we can get get a pick for you and you have a chance to go to a team like the Clippers and continue to coach and continue to pursue winning and we can get to rebuilding.’ That’s exactly what happened last night. Clearly, I had a selfish motive. I had a chance to not rebuild and go to a team that is in a different phase of their franchise. So everyone benefited from it. Clearly I — at least, I hope I benefitted from it, but this was done together. This was not me walking into the Celtics and saying ‘I quit’ or anything like that. For The Win

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