ESPN disputes report that says Michelle Beadle, Paul Pierce, Chauncey Billups are out.

By Jimmy Traina
June 13, 2019

1. Will tonight (or Sunday if we get a Game 7) be the last time we see Michelle Beadle, Chauncey Billups and Paul Pierce on ESPN's NBA Countdown?

Sports By Brooks reported Wednesday that the trio is out after this season wraps up.

ESPN released a statement disputing the news, which said, “Our whole NBA team is doing a great job and remains focused on an incredible NBA Finals and tomorrow night’s Game 6. We have made no decisions about what we are doing next season. After the season, and as we do with every sport, we will sit down and plan our entire NBA content offering across platforms.”

Here's the thing: Where there's smoke, there's fire. ESPN isn't going to confirm that report while the cast still has one or two shows left. However, it's also possible that the network really hasn't made a decision yet about next season since it is still dealing with this season.

But here's what we do know: ESPN will be airing NBA games, including the Finals, through the 2024-25 season. They are paying the NBA $1.4 billion a year for those rights. They have to have a better studio show.

Granted, it will be impossible for ESPN to compete with TNT when it comes to NBA studio shows, unless they lure Charles Barkley away from TNT, but when the only buzz you get all postseason is because Paul Pierce made up a story about crapping his pants, you have issues.

ESPN is the king at making everything it does feel important. For some reason, it hasn't been able to do that with NBA Countdown, through numerous iterations. It's hard to believe the World Wide Leader won't keep trying, though.

They've built a relationship with Kobe Bryant thanks to his ESPN+ show, Detail. If I'm ESPN, he's the first person I'm going after and I'm not stopping until he says yes. The guy is a quote machine who is not shy about voicing his opinions. The second person I'm offering a Countdown spot to is Richard Jefferson, who has been a standout on various shows during this postseason.

Of course, we still have to see if ESPN will make changes to NBA Countdown, but if I were a betting man, I'd say Sports By Brooks will end up taking a big bow in a few weeks.

By the way, the issues of NBA Countdown were a big topic on a recent SI Media Podcast I did with Boston Globe sports media reporter Chad Finn. Take a listen below.

2. FOX Sports Midwest is celebrating the Blues' first-ever Stanley Cup with its version of the Christmas yule log. FOX Sports Midwest Plus will air video of the Stanley Cup for 24 straight hours beginning Friday at 6 a.m. CT.

3. Congrats, Pam.

4. Shrewd move by Aaron Rodgers to grow a mustache to deflect the attention off his awful beer-chugging skills.

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#FearTheStache 👨🏻

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5. Woj not only has bombs, but he's got jokes.

6. Ryan Nemeth, brother of WWE Superstar Dolph Zigger, is making a film about a pro wrestler who gets into the business and faces the various challenges that come with the gig. Based on his sell job, it looks like it will be a must-see.

7. A brand new SI Media Podcast features an interview with ESPN senior NHL writer Greg Wyshynski. The long-time hockey writer talks about his transition from running Yahoo's Puck Daddy blog to working for the World Wide Leader. Wyshynski also discusses the challenges of covering the NHL, what the league's broadcast future could look like, the old-school blog days before Twitter changed the sports media game and much more. You can listen below or download the podcast on iTunes, Spotify;or Google Play.

8. RANDOM YOUTUBE VIDEO OF THE DAY: Just because it's Thursday.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on iTunes, Spotify or Google Play. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.

IN CLOSING: I know reading comprehension is a problem these days, so let me reiterate something from Wednesday's Traina Thoughts: The problem isn't the USWNT running up the score. The problem is ridiculous, over-the-top celebrations when leading 9-0.

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)