Stephen A. Smith wants to create his own superteam at ESPN.
The “First Take” host wants to team up with NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, possibly on ESPN’s “NBA Countdown,” according to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post.
The report also states that Smith would ideally want “Pardon the Interruption” co-host Michael Wilbon on the show as well, forming a Big 3 for the network’s NBA pregame show for the Finals and marquee games.
Nothing has been finalized, but the network does need a replacement for “NBA Countdown” following the departures of Maria Taylor and now Rachel Nichols.
However, adding Smith to the NBA Finals pregame show may not go over well with the NBA.
The league has been reluctant about Smith appearing on the main pregame show for the Finals due to his opinionated style, unsure if it is the right tone for the league’s biggest stage, according to Marchand.
But Smith appears to be calling his own shots as of late.
He reportedly was the driving force in having Max Kellerman removed from “First Take,” which will probably have a rotation of guests to debate Smith, with Michael Irvin likely figuring into the mix.
Johnson could also be a part of that rotation as well as ESPN’s internal analysts, such as Marcus Spears.
Smith also already does a regular-season pregame show every Wednesday, which could also be a spot for Johnson and Wilbon to join him, per Marchand. It is not a part of “NBA Countdown,” but rather a mini “SportsCenter” type show that belongs to Smith.
Smith and Wilbon have worked together in the past, but Johnson may come with some question marks.
The 62-year-old has held worked with ESPN before but has not been well received as a studio analyst.
Smith feels that his camaraderie with Johnson and Wilbon, both of whom he is close with, would come across on the air, though.
If Smith gets his wish, it is unclear what this means for the rest of the “NBA Countdown” crew, which currently consists of Jalen Rose, Jay Williams and Adiran Wojnarowski, and how their roles may change.
ESPN could also look toward Richard Jefferson, Kendrick Perkins and Chiney Ogwumike as possible candidate to join the show as well, per Marchand.