The anticipated round of ESPN layoffs has had a significant impact on the network’s NFL coverage, as well as notable departures within the NBA realm. According to reports, the network has parted ways with key figures such as Jeff Van Gundy, a prominent NBA game analyst who was a vital member of ESPN’s highly regarded “A team” alongside play-by-play announcer Mike Breen and fellow analyst Mark Jackson. Furthermore, other notable personalities affected by the cuts include Suzy Kolber, Keyshawn Johnson, and Todd McShay.
Van Gundy, known for his previous stints as head coach for the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets, had been with ESPN since his coaching career ended. He developed a reputation for his candid critiques of NBA officiating while effectively communicating the strategic decisions and responsibilities of a coach. Reports suggest that ESPN is considering internal candidates such as Richard Jefferson, Doris Burke, and JJ Redick as potential replacements for Van Gundy, who was earning a substantial salary. Another viable option for his successor is former NBA coach Doc Rivers.
An internal memo obtained by various news outlets revealed that ESPN is undergoing a series of job cuts in the short term and placing a continued focus on managing costs during contract renewals. ESPN, which is part of the Disney umbrella, is implementing these cost-cutting measures as part of broader company-wide efforts to reduce spending by $5.5 billion worldwide. As a result, the network has scrutinized every aspect of its operations, leading to departures in public relations, and production teams, and the loss of prominent on-air talent.
The cancellation of ESPN’s national morning radio show, hosted by Keyshawn Johnson, Jay Williams, and Max Kellerman, has also contributed to the employment impact. Kellerman, who previously engaged in spirited debates with Stephen A. Smith on “First Take,” is among those affected by the layoffs. Kellerman’s tenure at ESPN dates back to the late 1990s, when he started as part of the network’s boxing coverage and served as the inaugural host of “Around the Horn.” After contributing to ESPN radio programs in major cities, he returned to ESPN for his role on “First Take.” Following his departure from the show, Kellerman transitioned to morning radio alongside Johnson and Williams, while also hosting the afternoon television program “This Just In,” which will be succeeded by Pat McAfee’s show in the upcoming fall.
Keyshawn Johnson, the first overall selection in the 1996 NFL draft, joined ESPN after retiring from professional football in 2006. He had been a prominent part of ESPN’s “Sunday NFL Countdown” and “Monday Night Countdown” shows before joining the national morning program in 2020, taking over from “Golic and Wingo” (featuring Mike Golic Sr. and Trey Wingo).
Overall, the recent ESPN layoffs have had a profound impact on both the network’s NFL coverage and NBA analysis, resulting in the departure of notable figures such as Jeff Van Gundy, Suzy Kolber, Keyshawn Johnson, and Max Kellerman, among others.