Guy Talk: Simmons, Rose Officially Join ESPN's "NBA Countdown" Studio Show
ESPN formally announced that Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose will join the "NBA Countdown" pregame show alongside Magic Johnson and Michael Wilbon. The new group of analysts will debut Friday, Nov. 2, prior to ESPN's doubleheader telecast to open the regular season. Previous co-hosts Jon Barry and Chris Broussard will have new roles -- Barry will transition to game analysis with regular assignments throughout the season and Broussard will appear on "SportsCenter" and serve as a game reporter (ESPN). In Boston, Chad Finn writes the personnel change is a "daring attempt to find the chemistry TNT has long had" with Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith. However, it is "debatable whether the right personalities are returning -- [Magic] Johnson has proven that his effervescent personality doesn't translate to broadcasting, and Wilbon is far too deferential" to Johnson. But Simmons is "confident the quartet will click." He said, "Would this work if the four of us went out for dinner and just started talking basketball? I think it would, I know it would. We'd probably go for an hour and a half, and it would be genuine, and you can't fake that" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/19). In L.A., Tom Hoffarth wonders if ESPN did "really up its game" with the pregame changes (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 10/19).