By Barry Janoff
October 22, 2013: Calling her a "dynamic, engaging personality and an avid follower of the NBA," ESPN said it has reached a multi-year extension with Sage Steele to take on a new role hosting the Friday and Sunday editions of NBA Countdown.
The line-up for ESPN’s and ABC’s NBA pre-game show this month saw the departure of Earvin "Magic" Johnson and the arrivals of former NBA player and coach Doug Collins and Doris Burke.
Steele will host a roster that includes Collins and returning analysts Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons.
NBA Countdown, which has been title-sponsored by Kia, is scheduled to make its 2013 debut Nov. 1 via a special one-hour pre-game telecast prior to ESPN’s season-opening doubleheader: the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat at the Brooklyn Nets and the San Antonio Spurs at the Los Angeles Lakers.
ESPN's Wednesday NBA Countdown will feature Rose, Burke and ex-NBA player and coach Avery Johnson. It is scheduled to debut Nov. 13.
Steele, who joined ESPN in 2007, has served as co-host of ESPN’s SportsCenter, will continue to contribute to the show, according to ESPN. Steele will also continue to work as on-site host of daytime SportsCenter segments during the NBA Finals.
“Sage is a dynamic, engaging personality and an avid follower of the NBA," John Wildhack, ESPN evp-production, said in a statement. "She has a proven track record hosting our NBA coverage, and, on Countdown, she’ll help facilitate insightful discussion amongst her new teammates Doug Collins, Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons.”
According to Steele, “I’m thrilled to continue my career at ESPN and to embark on this exciting, new challenge. I love the NBA, and like millions of other fans, I’m looking forward to the season tip-off and to guiding some great discussion from our expert analysts.”
"She has a proven track record hosting our NBA coverage, and, on Countdown, she’ll help facilitate insightful discussion amongst her new [on-air] teammates."
Burke has covered basketball for ESPN since 1991.
Johnson left the program, which he had been a part of since 2008, due to what he called scheduling conflicts. Some reports cited a a conflict between Johnson and Simmons, which was denied by both men.
NBA Countdown is broadcast from the ESPN Los Angeles Production Center at L.A. LIVE, located across the street from Staples Center, home of the Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers.
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