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Ethan Sherwood Strauss: Something Is Corrupted in ESPN’s NBA Coverage

. It’s corrupted what ESPN is trying to do in terms of entertaining people because they can’t tell stories as well because there is always this neurotic paranoid fear that it will piss off an agent.

Ricky Keeler

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ESPN on NBA

Ethan Sherwood Strauss covered the NBA for ESPN and for The Athletic over the course of his career. Now, he is writing about topics that interest him the most on his substack, House of Strauss.

Strauss was a guest on the most recent episode of South Beach Sessionshosted by Dan Le Batard. He said the reason why he decided to leave The Athletic in August 2021 was because he wanted to write about what interested him and that he thought his sportswriting was getting worse instead of better:

“There’s a not so flattering aspect to it which is I thought I was getting worse at sportswriting. I think a lot of people went through this over the pandemic period where they didn’t feel themselves caring so much about their job as they did in the past. For me at The Athletic, I was covering the Warriors. The Warriors are exceptionally well-covered by The Athletic. It’s not just me over there…I felt like I could keep pace if I was tremendously motivated like we just kicked off the 2018 playoffs together.”

“I felt myself kind of getting worse and I thought that eventually the fans, the readers, they feel it, they know it. They know that you are fraudulent at some level. I had a couple of years left on my contract but was I really going to command some sort of salary after that if I didn’t have a following, if my work wasn’t good anymore? It was inspired by fear and I wanted it to be inspired by a different, better fear. A fear of failure.”

That fear made Strauss excited to start up the substack because he felt he needed to take that risk to see if other people were interested in what he was writing about:

“It excited me to start the substack and just know I can fail. To know that maybe I am going to try to talk about the stuff that interests me and it won’t work and it will be humiliating. It won’t just be an ego failure, but it will be a financial failure on top of that. That’s scary as hell. I sometimes think you need something like that in your life in order to force you to be better and to force you to grow. I wanted that sense of risk.”

One of the topics the two of them got into was ESPN’s coverage of the NBA and Adrian Wojnarowski in particular. Not only does Strauss think Woj is not very good on TV, he thinks that the coverage is being corrupted based on what is going on behind-the-scenes:

“He [Woj]  has built this empire on the basis of being first and having the news first. He’s in many ways a savvy businessman. He has tried to set it up where it’s almost mechanized where they are coming to him and he’s sending a social media resume around to different sources, to agents, to GM’s.”

“It corrupts the coverage because if the main focus is breaking a news story on Twitter and being first, that will detract from other focuses such as telling the most interesting story, revealing something that might not be flattering to a team or a player, but is of interest to the fans. It’s corrupted what ESPN is trying to do in terms of entertaining people because they can’t tell stories as well because there is always this neurotic paranoid fear that it will piss off an agent. I think people have this sense that something’s not on the up-and-up when they watch ESPN’s NBA coverage. Those stories have done well.” 

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Sports TV News

Robert Griffin III Replaces Randy Moss on Monday Night Countdown

The network announced the addition of Robert Griffin III to the pre-game program.

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Robert Griffin III
David Becker, Getty Images

With Monday Night Countdown set to lead into Thursday’s preseason matchup with the Chicago Bears and Seattle Seahawks, ESPN announced their lineup for the show.

The network announced the addition of Robert Griffin III to the pre-game program. Robert Griffin III will join Booger McFarland and Steve Young as the show’s main analysts.

They will be partnered with Suzy Kolber who returns for her sixth year as the show’s host and news breaker Adam Schefter.

It was reported in July that analyst Randy Moss would not be returning to the show, opting instead to focus solely on Sunday Night Countdown.

The first regular season action featuring Monday Night Countdown will be on Monday, September 12 when the Seahawks play the Denver Broncos.

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Sports TV News

Leafs Nation Network, the Toronto Maple Leafs Channel, Is Going Off the Air

“Thank you for your viewership. As of Sept. 1, Leafs Nation Network TV services will no longer be on air.”

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The Toronto Maple Leafs launched Leafs TV, a team-specific specialty channel in 2001 and rebranded it as Leafs Nation Network in 2017. However, after nearly twenty-one years on the air, it will fade to black at the end of August.

“Thank you for your viewership,” the channel told viewers who have tuned in recently. “As of Sept. 1, Leafs Nation Network TV services will no longer be on air.”

The news was confirmed to the Sun. Staff said they had been informed of the news a few weeks ago however few jobs are expected to be lost, of any, as many of the LNN duties will be moved to the digital format.

Leafs TV was part of the sale of the Toronto Maple Leafs franchise sale in 2011 to Bell-Rogers communications (worth $1.32 billion). With that sale, Leafs TV began to become a “redundant” channel focusing mainly on classic games and interviews once Rogers made a 2014 deal to become the dominant NHL network, grabbing the majority of live programming.

“Leafs TV was a big bargaining chip at the time of the (Rogers-Bell sale), but they’ve come to see that (lack of game broadcast presence) doesn’t work,” a source told the Sun.

A statement from MLSE on Tuesday read in part: “With new and increasing opportunities to share content on its digital platforms, subscribers to the Leafs Nation Network were informed earlier this month that the channel would cease being broadcast on Sept. 1. Maple Leafs game day and practice coverage will continue to be shared across the team’s digital platforms, combined with exciting new content on the team’s social and digital channels. The team will continue to produce live Marlies home games with details being shared in the weeks ahead about where those broadcasts will be made available.”

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Stephen A. Smith Says He Wants Mike Francesa on First Take

Russo smiled and chirped back, ““You can’t beat me, you’re never gonna beat him.”

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Stephen A. Smith, Mike Francesa

Stephen A. Smith seems to be looking to debate every major media personality with big opinions and he has set his eyes on Mike Francesa.

Smith was on First Take on Wednesday with weekly guest Chris “Mad Dog” Russo and chastising Russo for being upset with Aaron Rodgers calling out his wide receivers. That’s when Smith brought up the former WFAN tandem of Mike and the Mad Dog.

“The thing that disappoints me about you,” Smith said to Russo, “you’re upset with honesty. You are not only hosting your own radio show, you have your own channel.”

Smith continued, “You are one of the pioneers if not THE pioneer with Mike Francesa, who, by the way, I got to get him on this show one day too, with you. You understand what I’m saying? I mean it would be my honor to have Mike Francesa too.”

Russo smiled and chirped back, ““You can’t beat me, you’re never gonna beat him.”

Smith returned once more with “I ain’t scared. I’m never gonna beat him, but I’ll try, damn it.”

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