After leaving the Philadelphia 76ers, it was only a matter of time before Doug Collins yo-yoed his way back to the broadcast booth. As one of the best analysts in television, any network would be fortunate to add his expertise to their stable. Collins has always been noted as a top game analyst, but in a bit of a surprising move, ESPN has hired the coach primarily as a studio analyst. He replaces Michael Wilbon on ESPN NBA Countdown with Magic Johnson, Bill Simmons, and Jalen Rose.
Here's the announcement from Bristol:
"ESPN today announced it has reached a multi-year agreement with veteran NBA head coach Doug Collins. Collins will serve as an analyst on NBA Countdown – ABC and ESPN’s NBA pre-game show – with Basketball Hall of Famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons. In addition, he will serve as a game analyst for select telecasts on ESPN.
Collins will also make regular appearances across ESPN entities, including SportsCenter, ESPN Radio, ESPN.com and additional news and information programming.
“ESPN’s NBA coverage plays a leadership role in the way fans experience the sport, so I’m eager to share my basketball insights with our viewers,” said Collins. “Working with Magic, Jalen, Bill and the rest of my new ESPN colleagues will be a lot of fun.”
In addition to more regular in-studio appearances on Pardon The Interruption, veteran ESPN commentator Michael Wilbon will continue to have a significant presence on ESPN’s NBA coverage across platforms. Wilbon will regularly contribute to ESPN news and information programming, including SportsCenter, where he will provide reports, analysis and offer essays on pertinent NBA topics. Wilbon will also be on site for the NBA Conference Finals and NBA Finals."
The hiring of Doug Collins gives ESPN some added credibility in the NBA department and is one of their best hires of the year that's already seen them add several big names.
It'll be very interesting to see what "select" game broadcasts ESPN employs Collins for exactly. In an interview with Marc Stein at ESPN.com (synergy!) Collins says it'll be 10 Wednesday night games.
However with all that positivity, here's the fly in the ointment for ESPN. (That's such an underused idiom these days, isn't it?) The addition of Doug Collins really doesn't solve their biggest problem in studio - the show now going to its third season still has no host! What's more, Michael Wilbon was probably the most established person in that role and now he's being annexed to some kind of "contributing" bit part. Is Jalen Rose going to be the lead guy now? Do you really want Magic Johnson reading over more highlights and leading in and out of breaks? Is Collins going to be able to break through the Rose-Simmons dynamic and whatever it is Magic Johnson will be doing and offer his own analysis, or will he get drowned out?
NBA Countdown is improving. Collins' addition will make it better, but even he admits the biggest challenge will be creating chemistry on set. Just how much better Countdown will be might depend on how Collins is able to fit in to a studio that has no definable place to fit in to.