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#pounditThursday, October 28, 2021

Report: Stephen A. Smith wants to team up with Magic Johnson on ESPN

Magic Johnson

Stephen A. Smith is a powerful man at ESPN, and when he has an ideal co-host in mind, the network tends to listen. That’s what makes Smith’s latest reported idea so interesting.

According to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, Smith wants to team up with Magic Johnson on TV, possibly as part of “NBA Countdown.” Smith’s ideal setup would involve him, Johnson, and longtime “Pardon the Interruption” co-host Michael Wilbon, who works with Smith frequently on “SportsCenter.”

It’s not clear if ESPN would be willing to put Smith and his selected co-hosts on “NBA Countdown.” In the past, the network has resisted making him a centerpiece of its NBA pregame show, feeling his opinionated style is not a good fit for the program. However, there is some belief that the pre-existing camaraderie of Smith, Johnson, and Wilbon would come through on the air.

Johnson could also have a role as Smith’s debate partner on “First Take” as part of a rotation. ESPN plans to use a rotating cast of co-hosts on that program after Max Kellerman’s departure.

The network is currently revamping its NBA programming in light of the high-profile departure of Maria Taylor and the demotion of Rachel Nichols stemming from her controversial comments about Taylor that leaked this year. With the NBA coverage in flux, Smith certainly appears poised to step into the void.

Johnson has done TV before, although his contributions haven’t been terribly noteworthy. He certainly has his share of opinions, but also gets roasted somewhat frequently for some of his more obvious takes.

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