In a move that took many by surprise, ESPN announced Michelle Beadle as the new host of NBA Countdown on ESPN and ABC. Previously, Beadle led the NBA pre-game and halftime shows for games broadcast on the respective networks, including the NBA Finals on ABC. Beadle will host studio coverage throughout the playoffs with ESPN’s exclusive Western Conference Finals coverage.
This much-coveted position was occupied by Sage Steele, a ten-year veteran of the network and a one- time media darling of the worldwide leader. However, her actions have fallen under scrutiny on several occasions over the past year or so. Last year she allowed her own political views to guide her actions when cutting short a statement that Arcade lead singer Win Butler attempted to make about the presidential election while interviewing him following the All-Star Celebrity Game after he won MVP.
“We’re talking about celebrity stuff, not politics,” said Steele.
The sportscasting personality has espoused conservative views in the past and supported the election of Donald J. Trump to the White House. Additionally, there was her spoiled, privilege-soaked Instagram post complaining about her itinerary being interrupted because of protests over the Trump travel ban. Fellow ESPN-er Dan Le Batard got on her heels about that. Additionally she doesn’t sit very well with many who she shares similar ancestry with, black people.
She has gone on record numerous times admonishing African-Americans regarding what she deemed as being hypocritical on matters of race, is of the All Lives Matter persuasion, and she has also been one of Colin Kaepernick’s staunchest detractors and admonished NFL wide receiver Michael Evans for his short-lived decision to join the protest as well. You don’t think any of that is sitting in the back of some of these young guys’ heads while she’s interviewing them? Well I do.
While I receive absolutely no joy from anyone’s career being up in the air, it appears that Steele is her own victim in the matter. As far as the NBA is concerned, Beadle appears to have more in common with current and former players than Steele, who occasionally missed cultural references and colloquialisms used by players, many of them young and black, thus signifying an underlying inability to really connect with players on a cultural level if not a racial one. But she managed to get by on professionalism, a beautiful smile and bright, doe like eyes.
Lately, Steele has been making herself something of a PR nuisance and there have been articles published for months predicting her eventual departure from the network. It’s not like ESPN staffers don’t regularly get a finger waved at them from higher ups. It used to happen to Stephen A. Smith on a regular basis, but she’s of far less value to the network than Smith, and that’s apparent by her current status.
It appears as if she’s simply become more trouble than she’s worth to them as an upfront personality with a huge audience.