Mike Greenberg to replace host Maria Taylor as ESPN shuffles NBA Countdown roster

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NBA Countdown will return later this month with a new host—longtime ESPN personality Mike Greenberg of Mike & Mike fame. Greenberg, who currently appears on Get Up! and also hosts Greeny weekday afternoons on ESPN Radio, joins a star-studded lineup led by Stephen A. Smith, Michael Wilbon, Jalen Rose and Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson, who returns for his third stint on Countdown. The recent departures of Paul Pierce, Rachel Nichols and Maria Taylor (now of NBC) necessitated sweeping changes with ESPN forced to overhaul its NBA coverage.

Countdown’s new, revamped roster is seen as a win for Stephen A, who, according to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, had wanted to bring aboard pals Wilbon and Magic in hopes of forming a de facto “Big 3.” It’s also a promotion for Greenberg, who will anchor ESPN and ABC’s Finals coverage next summer.

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With the arms race for streaming and broadcasting rights taking precedence over original programming (though the “debate” format employed by First Take and other studio shows continues to thrive), ESPN has had difficulty retaining its talent of late, losing countless hosts and on-air personalities to competing networks. Behind the scenes drama between Taylor and Nichols blew up Countdown and its companion show, The Jump, this summer while Pierce was ousted from his analyst role months earlier following an ill-advised Instagram post.

This continues ESPN’s trend of catering to Smith’s every whim. Considered by many to be the face of ESPN, Stephen A hasn’t been shy about wielding his Machiavellian influence over personnel decisions, pushing them to hire his buddies and demote rivals including Max Kellerman, who was reassigned from First Take at Smith’s urging.

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