So there’s a lawsuit taking place in America right no…

So there’s a lawsuit taking place in America right now, and it just might be unique. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A man is suing a proxy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka the Mormon Church) for firing him over a tweet it saw as insensitive to Black people, but one he maintains was just espousing a first principle of his Unitarian Universalist faith. The man, the aforementioned Grant Napear, was a long-time play-by-play announcer for the Sacramento Kings. The tweet was a response to a former NBA All-Star who despised him.

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Former Sacramento Kings broadcaster and popular radio talk show host Grant Napear has filed a lawsuit against the company that fired him following a controversial tweet, FOX40 has learned. Napear has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against Bonneville International, the owner of radio station KHTK where Napear worked for over two decades before a tweet abruptly ended his Sacramento career.
“We mutually agreed that this approach regarding our NBA coverage was best for all concerned,” ESPN Senior VP/Production David Roberts said in a statement emailed to SBJ. “Rachel is an excellent reporter, host and journalist, and we thank her for her many contributions to our NBA content.” Roberts took over as the production exec overseeing ESPN’s NBA coverage two weeks ago, and this marks his first big move to reset how the network covers the NBA. Many more changes are coming, particularly on the studio side, sources said.
Roberts decided to cancel “The Jump,” which will run for a few more episodes over the next couple of weeks -- none of which will be hosted by Nichols. ESPN will launch a new afternoon NBA show in the lead-up to next season, but execs had no firm details on that show’s format or host.
The move comes about a year after a private conversation that Nichols had with sports PR exec Adam Mendelsohn, when the NBA host complained that Maria Taylor was chosen to host “NBA Countdown” during the NBA Finals because of the color of her skin. Unbeknownst to Nichols, the comments were recorded and distributed among several ESPN employees. Details of the conversation and the subsequent fallout were reported by the N.Y. Times earlier this summer. Taylor has since left the network, agreeing to a deal with NBC Sports.
ESPN launched “The Jump” in February ‘16 and found success with it. Nichols was nominated for a Sports Emmy as best host earlier this year. The show was nominated for a sports Emmy the year before. ESPN has made several on-air changes over the past several months. Just this week, it moved Max Kellerman off of “First Take” and will host his own weekday afternoon show on ESPN in the coming weeks.
Former player and longtime TV analyst Matt Bullard will not return to his usual role, as first reported by Jackson Gatlin of the Locked on Rockets podcast. Bullard played nine of his 11 NBA seasons in Houston, primarily during the 1990s, and he began calling games as a team broadcaster in the 2005-06 season. Bullard was a reserve forward for the 1993-94 squad that became the first in franchise history to win the NBA title.
Bullard told Gatlin that he was not given a reason for the decision, and he did not ask. Among his comments, via Houston CBS affiliate KHOU: They called me just a couple days ago and said that they were not going to be renewing my contract. It was a big surprise to me. I felt like the work that we did this year on AT&T SportsNet in the middle of a pandemic — calling games off of monitors, and not being able to travel and be with the team — I felt like the product that we put out this year was some of our best work. I was looking forward to getting right back at it next season, but they called and said that they will not be renewing my contract. So I won’t be back on AT&T SportsNet next season.
Veteran play-by-play broadcaster Bill Worrell, who worked with Bullard over the last 15 years, is also not returning to the booth. As part of a gradual retirement plan, Worrell had transitioned to home-only broadcasts over the last few seasons, with Craig Ackerman — the team’s longtime voice on radio broadcasts — taking over the road TV duties.
TNT could have a completely new look with its top NBA broadcast team next season, The Post has learned. While Marv Albert’s legendary career may conclude after he does the Eastern Conference finals, sources said Chris Webber’s return for next year is also very much in question.
ESPN parted ways with NBA legend Paul Pierce, sources told Front Office Sports. Pierce shared live Instagram video of himself smoking and playing poker in a room full of exotic dancers on Friday night. The 43-year-old was earning around $1.5 million annually for his on-air gig, said one source.
Ultimately, Pierce works for Disney, an image-conscious company. All talent employment contracts have some kind of morals clause and as many lawyers have said when it comes to these kinds of contracts, the company has a lot of discretion on decision-making.
It's way too early to say but ESPN has a ton of NBA analysts that they can cycle into Countdown or The Jump for the rest of the year. The Countdown spot is a very high-profile gig so the company won't lack for agents reaching out to push their clients.
Michael McCarthy: BREAKING NEWS: ESPN has parted ways with Paul Pierce. @Paul Pierce posted videos of himself with exotic dancers on Instagram Live Friday. The NBA legend has played a key role on 'NBA Countdown' and Rachel Nichols' 'The Jump.' ESPN declined to comment.
Tom Haberstroh: Hey so I’m no longer at NBC Sports. I called some of my buddies @Ethan Strauss @DarthAmin to talk about getting laid off and then we made picks for the NBA season. ✂️ It’s all here, on The Habershow relaunch! Apple:… Spotify:…
Howard Beck: So, my 7-year run at @BleacherReport officially-officially ended this week. Grateful for all the experiences, memories and friends, proud to have spent this chapter of my career with so many amazing, talented people. If you’ll indulge me, a brief(ish) appreciation #thread…
“Prior to the pandemic, we had been deeply engaged in strategizing how best to position ESPN for future success amidst tremendous disruption in how fans consume sports. The pandemic’s significant impact on our business clearly accelerated those forward-looking discussions. In the short term, we enacted various steps like executive and talent salary reductions, furloughs, and budget cuts, and we implemented innovative operations and production approaches, all in an effort to weather the COVID storm. We have, however, reached an inflection point,” Pitaro wrote in the memo. “The speed at which change is occurring requires great urgency, and we must now deliver on serving sports fans in a myriad of new ways. Placing resources in support of our direct-to-consumer business strategy, digital, and, of course, continued innovative television experiences, is more critical than ever.”
But on-air TV/radio talents are not completely safe from ESPN cost-cutting plans either. The network, for example, is simply not renewing the contracts of some mid to senior-level talents, or is asking them to come back at a reduced salary. Unfortunately, these media talents don’t have much leverage since few other networks are hiring during the pandemic. “Where are they going to go? Nobody’s hiring,” said one talent agent. “My advice to everybody is whatever they send you, just sign and send it back. Just make it through this year.”
ESPN is laying off 300 staffers and won't fill 200 more open positions, the company announced Thursday. "The speed at which change is occurring requires great urgency, and we must now deliver on serving sports fans in a myriad of new ways," ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro wrote to employees. "Placing resources in support of our direct-to-consumer business strategy, digital, and, of course, continued innovative television experiences, is more critical than ever.”
“Do I make mistakes? Yeah, I make mistakes and if I make a mistake, I try to say that I’m sorry. But I’m not sorry for saying ‘all lives matter, every single one,’” he said. “I’m not sorry because I believe that every life is important. I’m not sorry because I believe in equality for all. I’m not sorry because I try to treat everyone, regardless of the color of their skin, the same.”
Now, at age 61, Napear and his wife have moved to Miami temporarily. He’s started a new podcast, appropriately titled “If You Don’t Like That With Grant Napear.” “I’m going to do this podcast. I’m going to have fun with it, and then we’ll see where we are at six months or 12 months down the road. I could see myself back in Sacramento, you just never know,” Napear said.
The months-long economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic is sparking painful fallout for media companies. ESPN could lay off hundreds of employees in the coming weeks, sources told Front Office Sports. One source pegged the potential number of job losses between 300 and 700 employees. Another estimated 400 possible lost jobs. The cuts are expected to hit hardest among ESPN employees who work behind the camera. But some on-camera TV and radio talents could be impacted — particularly if their contracts are expiring this year.
Neumann, Adubato and Colón worked a total of 66 seasons as Magic broadcasters. “Our business, as well as many others like us, continue to be impacted by the pandemic,” Magic CEO Alex Martins said in a statement to The Athletic. “We have had to make some very hard business decisions in these unprecedented times, and we made the difficult decision to reorganize our efforts in regard to radio. Moving forward we will simulcast our radio and television game broadcasts. To those impacted, we’ve provided fair severance, outplacement services and health and wellness options.
The Charlotte Hornets have fired radio broadcaster John Focke, the team announced in a press release on Thursday. Focke tweeted the N-word during a Utah Jazz-Denver Nuggets game and was suspended, but now the Hornets are completely relieving him of his duties.
B/R Mag Deputy Managing Editor Elliott Pohnl tweeted news of his departure on Aug. 24. “So today @BleacherReport decided to sunset BR Mag, taking with it the incredibly talented writers and editors who worked tirelessly to tell great stories.” he tweeted. “I’m proud of my involvement with the Mag for the last 5 years and want to thank all the people who worked as a TEAM.” B/R launched B/R Mag as an ambitious attempt at Sports Illustrated-style magazine journalism in 2016. Beck joined B/R three years earlier as its lead NBA writer from the New York Times, giving the upstart brand more journalistic cred.
Baptist apologized in a statement released to KPRC-TV in Houston: “I deeply regret posting on my Facebook page a phrase that I saw and copied from others as a sample of some people’s reactions to Biden’s selection of Senator Harris as his choice for VP,” he wrote. “The phrase I posted does not reflect my personal views at all. I should not have been so insensitive to post the statements by others. I sincerely apologize to all of those who have rightfully been offended and I have taken the post down from my FB page. It was a horrible mistake on my part.”
The timing in letting go of Chin and Blakely in particular is curious considering NBC Sports Boston is the regional home of the Celtics and the NBA relaunched its season last week after being shut down for the pandemic. According to multiple sources, the network may keep some laid-off staffers around for 60 days. Blakely, whose contract is up in October, is expected to be one.
Raymond Ridder: An incredible writer and terrific person @SteveBHoop . Once we get back to normalcy, I see this free agent being scooped up quickly.
Jon Krawczynski: One of the Timberwolves/Lynx employees let go today was PR/Communications mgr Dan Bell. Dan is not one to draw attention to himself so allow me to do it for him. He spent more than 27 years with the organization.
Kyle Ratke:We had a good run. Today was my last day with the Timberwolves & Lynx. I’ll forever have such great memories, and in a sense, I grew up with the organization. I wish nothing but the best for my friends who became family. To the next opportunity.
Katie Davidson: I will no longer be a Wolves & Lynx employee come July 1. I have many people to thank for this experience, but none more than @Kyle_Ratke — the most selfless, spirited, kind-hearted, talented person I've ever worked for. Losing Kyle is thee greatest Wolves loss of all time.
Peter Zayas: I got laid off by The Athletic today. Looking forward to getting the YouTube channel back up and running, I really miss making videos anyway and things should work out. Here's my Patreon if you wanna support the work I've done and will be doing. Go Lakers.
Andre Fernandez: “And so my watch has ended.” Unfortunately, I am one of the 46 let go today at The Athletic. It was an amazing opportunity to learn from and work w/many of the most amazing people in the business. I wish you all the best in these difficult times. Hope we cross paths again soon.
Rob Lopez: I was one of the 46 laid off today at The Athletic. I feel for everyone losing a job at this time. It sucks but we all will bounce back, as always. stay strong! If anyone is in the market for a sports writer, video editor, podcaster, social media manager, hit my line. DM's open
Gina Mizell: I’m one of today’s layoffs at The Athletic. I’m really sad, because this is the best job I’ve ever had. I have endless respect and love for my colleagues and will continue to support their terrific work. Thanks to all who read. You helped make a Phoenix kid’s dream come true.
Rod Boone: Just wanted to say thanks to everyone for reading my Hornets coverage over the last two seasons. I am among the 46 staffers The Athletic laid off today. Thankful to be able to work at such a great place and collaborate with so many fantastic writers. The talent is second to none.
Mike O'Connor: Was informed that I am among The Athletic’s layoffs today. Naturally I’m sad that my run is ending but I couldn’t be more proud of the ride. Getting to cover the Sixers / the NBA for almost 3 years here was a dream come true. I’ll miss the company and my colleagues tremendously.
Matthew Tynan: Hate to add to all the fun on here, but today is my last day with The Athletic. It was a quick trip through a very strange season, but I had a chance to work with some wonderful people and for a company that did its best to look out for us in so many ways.
Mike Prada: My time at SB Nation has ended. Dec. 11, 2006 - June 5, 2020
Paul Flannery: Like many of my colleagues, I have elected to take a buyout and am no longer with SB Nation. There's a lot of people to thank, but I'll do that privately. Thanks for reading. Appreciate you all.
It took three words — “All Lives Matter” — for longtime shock jock and Sacramento Kings TV play-by-play announcer Grant Napear’s career to go up in flames, but the 60-year-old’s remorse only goes so far. “I don’t want to call it a mistake,” the Syosset, Long Island, native told The Post on Wednesday in a wide-ranging phone interview. Of the tweet and its aftermath, Napear said, “I don’t even know what adjective to describe it.”
Napear, who insists he did not know that “All Lives Matter” is a phrase often used to belittle the Black Lives Matter movement, became choked up at times when talking with The Post while defending himself against the notion he was denouncing the black community and has racist views. “It makes me feel sick to my stomach because it is absolutely the opposite of who I am,” he said. “I am 60 years old. I will let the track record of my life and what I’ve done for my community and what I’ve done. … People who know me, of all races, I’ll let them tell the story.”
“Demarcus we know and have known who grant is,” said former Kings All-Star Chris Webber, who is now an NBA on TNT analyst. “The team knows as well. I’ve told them many times. They’ve seen it. They know who he is,” said Webber, adding two clown emojis. Webber did not respond to multiple interview requests. “I have not once in my 32 years in doing the Sacramento Kings had any individual from either the radio station or the Kings mention anything in any way, shape or form about me and my relations with minorities, with any other group of people,” Napear said. “That is an absolute disgrace that that would ever be said. That is an absolute disgrace.”
Dane Moore: Some news: The layoff monster got me Two things: - I'm a free agent - I'm not going anywhere The podcast continues. On today's show: @brittrobson and I discuss losing our jobs covering the Wolves (furlough for Britt)
Mike Tokito: Not a big surprise, but my time as a contributor for Forbes, writing about the @Portland Trail Blazers, has come to an end. I really enjoyed getting what was probably my final taste of sportswriting, which once upon a time was a great way to make a living. Moving on!
Kerry Eggers: Just got word I’ve been laid off at the Portland Tribune after 19-plus years & 45 years in the sportswriting biz. I was planning a July 31 retirement, but as Ralph Miller used to say, that’s the way the pickle squirts. Thanks to all you readers who have made my career a pleasure.
Chris Ballard: After almost 20 years, today is my last at Sports Illustrated. Hell of a ride. I got to work alongside childhood idols, collaborate with some of the best editors in the business, and live out a dream. Best job in the world, I always said, and it was. A few thoughts:
Vincent Ellis: Definitely not exceptional, but yes, I'm leaving the Free Press. #PistonsTwitter will never be the same. :)
And Michelle Beadle is officially out of ABC/ESPN’s NBA coverage. She had been leading “Countdown” when it had the top perch. Beadle, who makes $5 million per year, is expected to shortly finalize a buyout, according to sources.
Andrew Sharp: I was among the layoffs at SI earlier today. Tough way to end, but it was a great 4 years. I have too many people to thank in a tweet, but thanks especially to @SI_ChrisStone @matt_dollinger and @SI_MarkBechtel .
Jake Fischer: Four years ago I first stepped foot in SI's newsroom. Today is unfortunately my last day as an SI employee, as part of today's layoffs. It's been a devastating day in the office, but I'm looking forward to whatever's next. And I'll forever cherish the people at 225 Liberty.
The television play-by-play man for the Portland Trail Blazers from 2003-2016, spoke candidly about the day he found out he would no longer be working for the Trail Blazers. Barrett and his partner, Mike Rice, were both let go from their positions by the Blazers after the 2015-2016 season. Barrett admitted he did not know that phone call was coming. “I had no clue,” Barrett said. “I’m somebody who expects that stuff and I shouldn’t be, but I often operate that way, it kind of motivates me. So that was a definite shocker and I know it was a shocker to the guys that had to ultimately tell me too, even though they had to kind of own that.”
National television broadcasters and NBA teams around the league called Barrett the day the news came out. Teams were trying to find out if Barrett was interested in re-locating and taking a position with them. At the time, Barrett could only think, “My heart is broken because that's been my team since I was 5 years old.” “That was my team, I can’t do another team.”
Brian Wheeler, the long-time voice of the Portland Trail Blazers, will not return as the team's radio play-by-play broadcaster next season, it was announced today by Trail Blazers President and CEO Chris McGowan. "Brian Wheeler has been an integral part of the broadcast team and Trail Blazers family since 1998 and his voice is synonymous with all the many great play-by-play calls over that 21-year span," said McGowan. "We thank Brian for his contributions to the franchise and wish him all the best in his future endeavors. "
“The Starters,” an irreverent daily show on NBA TV, will not be renewed for next basketball season, according to a person with knowledge of the decision. The show, which is hosted by Tas Melas, Leigh Ellis, Trey Kerby and Phil Elder (professionally known as J.E. Skeets), debuted on NBA TV in 2013 and celebrated its 1,000th episode last year.
The contracts of the four hosts, as well as producers Doyle and Matt Osten, run through this summer, though it is unclear if the hosts will continue to appear on NBA TV after the NBA Finals conclude. Where the hosts and their program will go and exactly what they will do next is not known, though the quartet has had initial discussions with other media companies. “The guys thank Turner for their six years,” said a statement from Creative Artist Agency, which represents the hosts. “They’re looking forward to their next steps and we’ve had conversations with a number of interested parties.”
Sean Deveney: Breaking news: Friday was my last at Sporting News Was my first job out of college in 1998 and it's sad on that account. But I got to do this job for 20 years and that's a gift in this business Not sure yet what's next but I owe a lot of people thanks. You'll be hearing from me
Steve Buckhantz: I've read every comment. I want to thank you ALL for your kindness and support. My passion has always been for the Wizards and our broadcasts. It will all work out, one way or another. #DCFamily
Two years after NBC Sports Washington broke up the popular Wizards television team of Steve Buckhantz and former player Phil Chenier, who was moved off game broadcasts, there could be more changes in store. The network recently informed Buckhantz, the longtime Wizards play-by-play man, that it would not pick up the option on the third year of his contract “at this time,” leaving his future with the network unclear, said his attorney, Phil Hochberg.
The network plans to review and assess all aspects of its Wizards telecasts and explore its options before settling on a broadcast booth for next season, according to a person with knowledge of the process. Buckhantz’s return remains possible, that person said.
Hochberg said he was informed “simply that they were not prepared to pick up his option at this time” but that a return remains possible. But he said the news left Buckhantz in a “precarious position” and that he is already reaching out to other outlets, just as NBC Sports Washington is expected to be in contact with the agents of other play-by-play announcers.
Michael Pina: I was laid off by VICE on Friday. Thanks to everyone who read/shared my NBA work over the past two years, and to @jorgearangure, @caitlin__kelly, @dontforgetmac and @ericnus for all their advice and support. I’m so excited for whatever comes next. Email me!
Eddie Sefko: OK, folks. This will be the last Twitter post for awhile. I'm joining the ranks of the unemployed today. Been a privilege to cover so many great people and great athletes for 18 years on the Mavericks' beat. Wish them all the best. I'll resurface in a week or two with an update.
Storyline: Media Layoffs
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August 17, 2022 | 8:47 pm EDT Update

Utah doesn't want Julius Randle?

Tommy Beer: Stephen A Smith on SiriumXM w/ @Rick Kamla this afternoon when asked about potential Mitchell deal: “Utah didn’t want Julius Randle, from what I’m told. They don’t want him. The Knicks were willing to unload him. They want RJ Barrett. They want at least 6 1st-round picks.”

I knew if we could win Game 3 and go to 3-0, it was pretty much a wrap on the series. It was just a matter of whether [the series would be won] in Game 4 or a “gentleman’s sweep” in Game 5. Down the stretch in the fourth quarter, we got a stop, and I was just talking to myself: “Put ‘em to sleep. Put ‘em to sleep.” That was the conversation I was having with myself. Not with anyone else on the team or anyone else in the arena. Then, I had finished that layup underneath Jokic, and that was the thought that came out – just to do the sign. I didn’t say, “Night Night” at the time. I was just telling myself, “Put ‘em to sleep.” Fast forward to Game 5, when I made the last layup to go up five with 19 seconds left. That was the official, “Put them to sleep.” The camera didn’t get me on that one, but I actually said it. Fast forward to Memphis, Dallas and then Boston, and it kind of took on a life of its own.
NDP: How did it feel to break it out again in Boston and seal the Finals win? SC: It felt the best. The way that game went, it was an emotional rollercoaster. They came out just hitting every shot, and they were up double digits in the first four minutes. We slowly just crept back and then went on that 21-nothing run. When we came out in the third quarter, everyone was feeling it. Let’s just step on their throats, right now.
NDP: What’s it been like seeing athletes from sports all around the world doing the celebration? SC: It’s the best, ’cause some are taking it to new extremes that I would never feel comfortable doing in the league. But it’s dope to know how far the reach is. I’ve told people before, “I know there’s people that did the symbol before me.” But to know that you cemented a moment that’s on the biggest of stages, and people are inspired by it and want to have fun with whatever they’re doing with it — they’ve taken their own spin on it and have had some creativity with it.
August 17, 2022 | 7:21 pm EDT Update
CJ Holmes: Here’s all four of the Warriors’ long road trips this season: Oct. 29 – Nov 4: Charlotte, Detroit, Miami, Orlando, New Orleans Dec. 13 – 27: Milwaukee, Indiana, Philadelphia, Toronto, New York, Brooklyn Jan 13 – 20: San Antonio, Chicago, Washington, Boston, Cleveland
Jason Dumas: Looks like a local artist in the LA area has painted a mural of JTA in Inglewood. It’ll be unveiled to the public tomorrow. I realized how impactful Juan was at the first Mexican-American to win an NBA Finals during the Warriors parade. Cool stuff.

August 17, 2022 | 5:43 pm EDT Update