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Bill Simmons leaving ESPN’s pre/post game NBA Countdown to start Grantland hoops show

Aug 13, 2014, 2:45 PM EDT

Inside The South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival Getty Images

ESPN continues to tinker and toy with it’s pre-game/in-game “NBA Countdown” show. The key move a couple years ago was to bring in online force of nature Bill Simmons, and that had its ups and downs. Simmons and Jalen Rose did some good stuff, but overall the show was nice. Not thrilling, but nice.

Now changes are coming. Simmons is leaving Countdown to focus on his own “The Grantland Basketball Show,” and hour-long NBA show that will air on ESPN supposed to be starting Oct. 21 and be on roughly every other week through the season, something the network announced Tuesday (but has since taken down the press release).

The Grantland show has potential, if it uses video and Zach Lowe a lot. There are a lot of great NBA writers and minds at Grantland that could be utilized. We’ll see how that goes.

As for Countdown, it’s not clear who will join host Sage Steele, Rose and former coach Doug Collins. Usually that spot has gone to more of a print/online journalist but I’m not sure Chris Broussard or Stephen A. Smith are great fits.

You know what Countdown’s biggest problem is? It’s not TNT’s “Inside the NBA.” It can’t live up to that, arguably the best sports studio show anywhere (ESPN’s College Gameday for football comes close). We all watch Inside the NBA, even if the game in front of it was a dud. Countdown can’t replicate the chemistry of Charles Barkley, Shaq, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson.

  1. 4thquartermagic - Aug 13, 2014 at 2:46 PM

    Will the show also be informative yet painfully longwinded at times?

    • apkyletexas - Aug 13, 2014 at 4:22 PM

      Will there be numerous cultural references to TV shows I’ve never watched and bands I’ve never heard?

      • convincedofthehex - Aug 13, 2014 at 4:46 PM

        Simmons is terrible on music, he knows nothing. Old TV and movies, pretty good.

      • parasolmonster - Aug 13, 2014 at 5:02 PM

        Is your username a Flips reference, hex?

      • bigmeechy74 - Aug 14, 2014 at 10:18 AM

        It’s a burn on you if you have never watched breaking bad or game of thrones

  2. phluffyclouds - Aug 13, 2014 at 2:50 PM

    Good, Simmons is awful.

  3. bucrightoff - Aug 13, 2014 at 2:52 PM

    He’s a good columnist but he’s pretty mediocre to bad on TV.

  4. Mr. Wright 212 - Aug 13, 2014 at 2:58 PM

    GOOD! He has a face for radio and a voice for PRINT.

  5. zickhead - Aug 13, 2014 at 3:01 PM

    ESPN has horrible commentators, Jalen isn’t good, Magic sucked, everything feels to censored compared to TNT. Shaq’s not that great either, wouldn’t mind having someone else replace him.

    • asimonetti88 - Aug 13, 2014 at 3:47 PM

      much prefer Chris Webber to Shaq if they feel they absolutely have to have four people in studio.

      • bkbell3 - Aug 13, 2014 at 4:18 PM

        Chris webber always looked like he was apologizing for and sheepish for everything he said and is still on the same run on sentence he started years ago. inside the nba has become a joke of a variety comedy hour. They can’t just put up one stupid picture they have to do ten pictures. Charles just babbles and repeats everything he says while making 5 points and saying “first of all, lemmy tell you Ernie” Shaq just sits there and mumbles once in a while and kenny half the time is incoherent. And ernie wins awards for sitting there chuckling and getting talked over while adding nothing that has to do with BB. It used to be a decent show but shaq,kenny and chuck act like they’re basketball experts but rarely agree on anything so who is an expert. Simmions with his little 5 year old boy’s voice is unwatchable and knows nothing about basketball. Sorry, rant over.

      • duhwighthoward - Aug 14, 2014 at 12:16 PM

        @zickhead, You couldn’t be more right.

        @bkbell3, great rant, man! You’re right too.

  6. 76ersdoubletank - Aug 13, 2014 at 3:09 PM

    I didn’t think Simmions or Rose were that bad. But they were not that good either.

    Anything with Grantland though, IS good, especially Zach Lowe.

  7. bigmeechy74 - Aug 13, 2014 at 3:32 PM

    This will be a good show. I’m glad this is happening

  8. 6thsense10 - Aug 13, 2014 at 3:33 PM

    Simmons has ESPN backing him and years upon years of NBA and sports contacts. It should be a good show.

    • bkbell3 - Aug 13, 2014 at 4:25 PM

      Sorry 6th, but when do you ever see simmons ever break any news stories? no one who knows anything about basketball goes to him, he is clueless and always tries to hard to be out there and controversial. He makes stupid predictions because he knows that no one will remember later and if he hits one he will crow about it like a little kid. He is a hack. On the show he was constantly interrupting the grown-ups with stupid quips that are stupid and not funny. You could see Sage and doug collins getting annoyed at him all the time.

      • twinfan24 - Aug 13, 2014 at 9:11 PM

        Well, the show isn’t going to be a daily show, so I don’t think breaking stories is really that big of a deal.

  9. cruzan80 - Aug 13, 2014 at 3:46 PM

    Thank God!

    So tired of him constantly weaseling in a Boston Celtic reference in every topic. ESPN’s entire line up needs to change except for Doug Collins in my opinion.

  10. mrlaloosh - Aug 13, 2014 at 3:48 PM

    Doug Collins should be coaching. (Pelicans?). Monty Williams is a joke. Demps needs to go.

    • sixerstrong - Aug 14, 2014 at 8:30 AM

      Be careful what you wish for…

  11. yesser12 - Aug 13, 2014 at 3:59 PM

    Best news I heard all day. I avoided watching the ESPN NBA talk because of this clown. TNT/NBA Tv team is still better though.

  12. antistratfordian - Aug 13, 2014 at 4:07 PM

    Well I guess that’s the last time I’ll be seeing Simmons on TV.

  13. azarkhan - Aug 13, 2014 at 4:29 PM

    Take Jalen Rose with you but leave Sage Steele. She’s excellent.

    • money2long - Aug 14, 2014 at 4:39 AM

      U have a crush ?

  14. Damidwesterner - Aug 13, 2014 at 5:20 PM

    I liked it when they had Michelle Beadle in for Sage. At that point, Collins was the odd wheel.

  15. cantonbound13 - Aug 13, 2014 at 5:26 PM

    He should just do Celtic pre game shows.

  16. blueintown - Aug 13, 2014 at 6:23 PM

    If Stephen A. Smith becomes involved in this in any way, shape, or form I am cancelling television.

    • blueintown - Aug 13, 2014 at 6:25 PM

      ….or the horrific, homophobic, sand-bagging, sock puppet Chris Broussard, for that matter.

  17. elcaminobilly - Aug 13, 2014 at 6:58 PM

    This is great news. I tried to watch the pre-game often but I eventually gave up because this guy was just too annoying. He also had no real clue about the NBA. I won’t be watching his own show…ever.

  18. John White - Aug 13, 2014 at 8:07 PM

    Bottom line – Simmons is never funny. Uninformed. His performance at the draft was awful. His Celtic references are tiresome. I never watched ESPN pre- and post game shows, or halftime because of him.

  19. realfootballfan - Aug 13, 2014 at 9:18 PM

    Thank God. He’s awful on TV.

  20. dexterismyhero - Aug 14, 2014 at 4:55 PM

    All of the pre and post game shows are awful. I change channels or mute games that I want to watch.

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