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Magic Johnson joins ESPN; Van Gundy gets deal

Posted Oct 13 2008 3:44PM

Earvin "Magic" Johnson has joined ESPN as an NBA studio analyst and will mainly work with Stuart Scott, Mike Wilbon and Jon Barry on ABC's GMC NBA Countdown. He will provide analysis on Christmas Day -- when ABC and ESPN combine to showcase an NBA tripleheader (beginning at 12 p.m. ET on ESPN) -- and contribute to the networks' post-season studio coverage. The announcement was made by Norby Williamson, executive vice president, production.

"Magic has always been one of the most accomplished people in every field he has endeavored. He was an incomparable player and has become one of the best NBA analysts in the business. His unique insights, perspective and personality will be the perfect complement to Stuart (Scott), Mike (Wilbon) and Jon (Barry)," said Williamson.

"I am thrilled to be able to be a part of ESPN, where I will work with a great team and cover all the big NBA events," said Johnson. "Christmas can't come soon enough for me."

Johnson comes to ESPN from Turner Sports, where he was an NBA analyst for seven years, primarily on TNT's Thursday night NBA coverage. Johnson appeared on ESPN and ABC as a guest studio analyst during Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals.

He is one of the NBA's 50 greatest players in history and won five NBA championships with the L.A. Lakers, an Olympic gold medal in 1992 and a NCAA championship. He is one of only seven players in the history of the sport to capture the latter three accolades. He was named the NBA's Most Valuable Player three times (1987, 1989, 1990). He was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.

ESPN and Jeff Van Gundy Reach Multi-Year Agreement

Former NBA head coach Jeff Van Gundy, who joined ESPN during the 2007 NBA Playoffs and provided game analysis for the entire 2007-08 season, has agreed to an exclusive multi-year agreement with the network. Van Gundy will continue to provide analysis alongside play-by-play commentator Mike Breen and analyst Mark Jackson as the lead commentary team for games on ESPN and ABC -- the home of the NBA Finals.

"It was a very difficult decision to forego coaching for the next five years, but I enjoyed myself so much last year working with Mike (Breen) and Mark (Jackson), that I decided to make this long-term commitment to broadcasting with ESPN," said Jeff Van Gundy.

Norby Williamson, executive vice president, production, said, "We're thrilled Jeff has decided to focus on broadcasting. Our team of Mike, Mark and Jeff has great chemistry and offers diverse perspectives, which makes every broadcast unique."

Van Gundy last coached in the NBA during the 2006-07 season, guiding the Houston Rockets to a 52-30 record -- the team's best mark since 1997 -- despite a lengthy injury sustained by perennial All-Star Yao Ming. Van Gundy's Rockets lost in the final game of a best-of-seven first-round playoff series.

Van Gundy was the head coach of the Houston Rockets for four seasons from 2004-07, leading the team to a 182-146 record. He previously was head coach of the New York Knicks from 1995-2001, when his team won 248 games and made the playoffs six times (including an NBA Finals appearance in 1999). Van Gundy was an NBA analyst with Turner Sports during the 2002-03 season.

Prior to his NBA coaching experience, Van Gundy was an assistant coach at Rutgers and Providence. He graduated from Nazareth College in 1985.

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