When ESPN announced last week that it was parting ways with high profile NBA reporters and analysts Marc Stein and Chad Ford, eyebrows were raised immediately. No way would the network commit more than two billion dollars per season to the National Basketball Association and not cover it in a thorough manner right?
Well, there’s a very good explanation for the network’s decisions involving its NBA personnel.
Although the news comes at the expense of a few other quality individuals, it goes without saying that ESPN is on the verge of significantly upgrading its NBA coverage by adding the best reporter in the business. According to Pete Kafka of ReCode, Adrian Wojnarowski has agreed to a deal to join the worldwide leader in sports. The report states that Woj and a few members of his Vertical team would join the network after the NBA Draft.
Landing Wojnarowski gives ESPN a much needed PR boost at a time when it desperately needs one. Not only is Woj highly respected inside NBA circles, but sports fans trust him implicitly. He has consistently beaten ESPN for NBA scoops, and in a poll done earlier this year on this website, he was voted the number one reporter in sports. More than five thousand entries were received and Wojnarowski earned better than a third of the total vote.
What will be interesting to follow is how the departure of Wojnarowski impacts the future of Yahoo Sports. The star NBA reporter signed a four-year deal to run The Vertical, but with Yahoo selling to Verizon, the future for sports on the platform appeared murky. With the brand’s most important asset now headed to ESPN, the waters just got muddier.