The big news of the week in the industry (whether it was the NBA or journalism) was the Memphis Grizzlies’ hiring of John Hollinger from ESPN.com as their new vice president of basketball operations. He has already made a promise to check out the quality of the concession stand hot dogs as a personal favor.
Hollinger and I were good friends back when we were both together at ESPN, though I found it curious how he morphed from a stat guru into a game reporter and columnist in his later years. But the thing is: Hollinger was as good as anyone out there at writing a fantastic column off of any game he covered, which is saying a lot because he often had to cover the Atlanta Hawks. It was a testament to his many talents. I wish him luck — especially in finding a shooter.
Hollinger did not burn any bridges in his farewell column for ESPN, a company which has now lost both Hollinger and Ric Bucher in the past few weeks. Is Marc Stein next? (The answer from afar is an emphatic ‘No!’ because Stein is one of the best in the biz and has been dot-com’s rock since its inception. Then again, Peter Gammons was that way for the four-letter network on baseball. Same with Len Pasquarelli on football.)
I have my own guess on who’s next, which I will keep to myself. But I’ll also pass a long a recent quote from a high-ranking NBA official: “Nobody I know at ESPN is happy there.”
Hollinger is picking a good time to leave. Money is being slashed all over the place, ESPNLosAngeles is about to suffer a major loss, and the penny-pinching has gotten so tight that there are more stories to tell, but I don’t want to put anyone’s job in jeopardy.
So there is your gossip report, and rest assured that Skip Bayless will continue screaming at you every morning for the forseeable future. And more screaming is available on an ESPN-affiliated radio station near you.
With that, let’s quickly shift gears and get right to the risers, fallers, newcomers and dropouts in this week’s Top 10 MVP Rankings.