Per Deadspin, the power wielded by Bill Simmons over at ESPN is growing and Magic Johnson doesn't really like it.
So, why did Magic make his sudden announcement that he's leaving ESPN, less than three weeks before the NBA season begins? An announcement so sudden that the newest addition to NBA Countdown, Doris Burke, appeared to have had no idea it was going down?
ESPN sources tell us that Johnson's departure was the result of an old-fashioned power war, with one very clear winner: Bill Simmons. "It's Simmons's show now," said one source.
Magic apparently was not at all happy when ESPN told his buddy Michael Wilbon that his role on NBA Countdown would be diminished. He was "booted," according to one source. Another ESPN insider also said that Magic was "privately seething over the Wilbon thing and in general did not like that Simmons held all the power and influence." Magic didn't necessarily need the power, our sources explained; he just didn't feel like kowtowing to Simmons when he's, well, Magic Johnson.
"The bottom line is they turned that show over to Simmons," said our source. "That's why Doug Collins got hired and why Wilbon was out."
And that's a very large part of why Johnson decided to bolt the show at the 11th hour.
A Deadspin source called Simmons a "shadow president" at ESPN, but we won't believe it until ESPN4 is nothing but The Karate Kid on repeat 24/7.