Welcome back: Magic Johnson returns to ESPN’s NBA coverage

Michael Wilbon on working with Magic Johnson

“The news that ABC will be carrying a particularly attractive schedule of prime-time Saturday night NBA games has become even better now that Magic Johnson is returning to the network to work NBA Countdown for those games. There’s no smarter or more insightful man in NBA history than Magic. I’ve been honored to work with him over the years, and now again.”

ESPN is bringing “Magic” to NBA Saturday nights. Literally.

ESPN announced today that two-time Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson is returning to the company as part of a new NBA Countdown team with Sage Steele and Michael Wilbon. The trio will work the pre-game shows which precede the NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC game of the week. The series which returns for Season 2 on Jan. 21, at 8 p.m. ET.

“There are very few people as decorated as Magic, so hearing his insights is extremely valuable to our show,” said Amina Hussein, NBA Countdown coordinating producer. “Working alongside one of the greatest NBA players of all time is an obvious perk, but to see firsthand the enthusiasm and passion Magic has for the NBA is something that always stands out.”

Front Rowasked Saturday night host Steele to discuss Magic’s return and the ready-made chemistry of this new trio:

What are your initial thoughts on the formation of this team?
I couldn’t be more excited to work with Michael and Magic. I watched them together for years before I began hosting the show in 2013 and I’ve always dreamt of finding a way to reunite them. Their on-air chemistry is so good and so genuine, because of their decades-long friendship. So to be able to bring that back to NBA fans is a win-win for everyone.

As the show’s host, how will you tap into both Magic’s and Michael’s expertise and insights?
As the host of any show, I think the most important thing is to allow your analysts to dictate the directions in which they want to go. They’re the “experts”. . . So I’ll constantly be picking their brains for what truly stands out to them and push for their priceless anecdotes to dictate the content and flow of our pre-game shows.

Ultimately, what do you want to achieve on NBA Countdown Saturdays this season?
There is still a lot to discuss as we get closer to our first show, but just having Michael and Magic together will make everything completely different. Aside from knowledge and broadcasting ability, chemistry is everything. Michael’s and Magic’s chemistry is well-documented, and the fact that I’ve been fortunate enough to establish genuine trust and friendships with both Magic and Michael makes this a dream situation.So, with such a good, hard-to-find foundation, the key for me and our producers comes down to that old acronym: KISS – keep it simple! Can’t wait.

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