The massive ESPN layoffs that began about a month ago and have seen more than 20 popular on-air talents relieved of their duties have claimed another victim: Mark Jackson. The termination spree, which claimed the job of Jackson’s longtime partner Jeff Van Gundy, came for Jackson on Monday when he was “unexpectedly” informed that his “services were no longer needed at ESPN.”
“Although shocked and dismayed with the suddenness of it all, I would like to thank ESPN and all the staff of the NBA ESPN crew for allowing me to be a part of the organization for the past 15+ years,” Jackson wrote on social media. “It’s been an honor to sit beside two LEGENDS in the business who are like brothers to me, Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy…Lisa Salters is a GOAT and like a sister to me and I’m proud of the work she continues to do. I wish greater measures of success to the new ESPN team. May they continue to elevate this game that has given me a home and a life.”
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Presumably, Breen and Salters will retain their roles on ESPN’s top basketball crew, and the expectation is that Jackson and Van Gundy will be replaced by fired 76ers coach Doc Rivers and NBA broadcast veteran Doris Burke. (That could be a bit awkward for ESPN’s $85 million man Pat McAfee.)
Jackson, who coached the Golden State Warriors just before their championship dynasty began, has two years left on his contract, which The Worldwide Leader will have to pay out. According to Front Office Sports, ESPN offered Jackson a demotion to the network’s No. 2 NBA broadcast team, but he rejected that proposal. According to The New York Post, Jackson’s dismissal was directly related to ESPN’s prior move to get rid of Van Gundy. “ESPN increasingly came to the realization that Jackson’s effectiveness was tied to Van Gundy, who had established himself as one of the best game analysts in sports,” per The Post.
With Jackson and Van Gundy out, expect to see more of JJ Redick and Richard Jefferson as game analysts, as ESPN executives are apparently high on their potential and plan to assign them better games. Don’t expect to see more of Jalen Rose becauase he was also let go by ESPN. He, or Van Gundy or Jackson, could wind up with a gig at NBA TV or TNT.