Big Lead Sports' Jason McIntyre reports that ESPN officials are considering adding Simmons to the cast of NBA Countdown, adding a bright personality with deep opinions to a show that some feel is lacking just that.
The only real question is how Simmons would fit in with the rest of the cast, because the gut reaction is that this is a brilliant idea by ESPN.
The editor-in-chief of Grantland is never short of words or opinions. He is a renowned Boston homer who would polarize the audience and give a great deal of emotion to a show that is constantly compared to TNT's Inside the NBA.
This wouldn't be the first time the network tried to get Simmons on the air for this specific show. The report issues that he was pegged for the gig last year, but he declined in order to continue his work on Grantland, which was in its infancy at the time.
The report continues:
Will everyone in the cast – which includes Mike Wilbon, Jon Barry, Magic Johnson and Chris Broussard – be on board with the move? We’re hearing Simmons would replace Chris Broussard on the set. Broussard would then be re-assigned into an unspecified role, perhaps as a “news” guy. Wilbon and Simmons have co-hosted PTI and are friendly, but what will Magic Johnson think? The Lakers/Celtics friction between Magic and Simmons could make for great television.
At least on our end, NBA Countdown has had its moments. When it's at its best, it serves as a counterweight to the party atmosphere on the rival TNT version.
In that show, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O'Neal put heavy emphasis on keeping things loose and free, while Ernie Johnson maintains a smooth transition to the task at hand.
Where NBA Countdown strays is when it tries too hard to be something it's not: a humorous show that touches on the basketball games featured. In the end, it seems forced and contrived. ESPN needs to realize that it is a completely different animal in this regard, and things should evolve nicely.
Adding Simmons would create a new dynamic that would be engaging without trying to mimic a tried-and-true formula by another network. The opinions are what matters on TV, and Simmons is never want for that stuff. The only question is whether or not the rest of the guys can keep up.
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