Magic Johnson leaves ESPN because of Bill Simmons?

Magic Johnson is leaving his gig at ESPN.
Posted By Caroline Lee  |  Oct. 11, 2013 at 1:11 PM
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(UPI) -- Magic Johnson announced Thursday that he was leaving ESPN's NBA coverage because of other commitments.

It was later reported that Johnson is leaving because of Bill Simmons, however.

ESPN sources said that Johnson's departure was the result of a power war, with one very clear winner: Bill Simmons. "It's Simmons's show now," said one source.

"The bottom line is they turned that show over to Simmons," the source said. "That's why Doug Collins got hired and why Wilbon was out."

Johnson is a five-time NBA champion and three-time MVP. He joined the network in 2008, and has appeared on ESPN and ABC as an analyst. Longtime NBA and college basketball analyst/sideline reporter Doris Burke will be working one day per week on "NBA Countdown."

Burke seemed fairly surprised when she was notified of Johnson's departure, so it is assumed to be a sudden decision.

"We appreciate Magic's contributions and wish him well in his future endeavors," John Wildhack, ESPN's executive vice president, production, said in a statement. "We are in the process of determining our NBA commentator roles for the upcoming season."

Since retiring from basketball, Johnson has invested in movie theaters, restaurants and a production company. He has also worked to raise awareness about HIV after being diagnosed with the virus in 1991.

"I love ESPN. Unfortunately, due to the nature of my schedule and other commitments, I don't feel confident that I can continue to devote the time needed to thrive in my role," Johnson said in a statement. "I will always feel a strong connection to the ESPN family and I enjoyed working with them very much."

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