A longtime reader passed along a link to Michael Wilbon’s Facebook page, which contains very cool photos of Wilbon with Muhammad Ali and Barack Obama. Also, Wilbon recently posted this ode to Magic Johnson, who recently left an ESPN show Wilbon was on last year, NBA Countdown. You have to friend Wilbon to see it all.
Cheers to Magic!
By now most of you have heard the news that Magic Johnson has left ESPN/ABC’s NBA coverage team to spend more time with his other endeavors, most notably his role as an owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers and his ongoing commitment to the fight against HIV-AIDS…And while there are any number of official statements on the matter you can find, I hope you’ll indulge me just a bit because I need to say thanks to Earvin publicly for the wonderful times we’ve all had with him since he joined the network in 2008. His contributions to NBA Countdown and other shows/specials/podcasts over six seasons have been invaluable.
It’s been like an extended graduate school tutorial in basketball, sitting with Earvin night after night, season after season, on the set and off, tapping into (for my money) the greatest basketball mind to ever play the game. Earvin, preparing for a TV show, was pretty much the same asMagic preparing for a game; he wanted to make his show-mates look good, by sharing anecdotes, information, proven strategies before we ever hit the air. He’s a basketball treasure and in his second life a cultural force, and as a basketball junkie I didn’t need hindsight to know how fortunate I was to work be working with Magic…and Jon Barry, and Jalen Rose, and guys all the way back to Mark Jackson and Scottie Pippen in my first year covering the NBA for ESPN.
I’ve known Earvin since he was a god at Michigan State and I was a fledgling sportswriter at The Daily Northwestern, an amount of time that covers the vast majority of both our lives. I’m grateful to have worked with Charles Barkley and Earvin and damn sure can’t adequately repay either man for access they’ve allowed me as a journalist, the projects they’ve included me in and the boost it all gave my career. And during the time it was never ever drudgery. You know you’re having fun when you’re work 15 hours on Christmas Day and laugh the time away.
I hope I’ll get to work with Earvin again; I suspect I will. His voice and point of view are too important, to the basketball world and the popular culture, to not be heard with regularity. Until then, cheers to my friend Earvin and his many important endeavors.
Magic, Jon Barry (last on the show in 2011-2012), Jalen Rose, Mark Jackson (last on the show in 2007), Scottie Pippen (2005-2006!) … oh, don’t be so cynical, Jason. Maybe Wilbon was just naming former players that he enjoyed working with?
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