Even though the NBA Countdown show has been around for a few years now, the panel is still getting to know each other’s rhythms. This season, Magic Johnson and Michael Wilbon were replaced by Sage Steele and Doug Collins. Last night, a small moment gave us a glimpse into how ESPN/ABC team is still trying to fine-tune their chemistry.
In the post game segment, Bill Simmons voiced his displeasure at having to wait so long for his turn. As you can see below, Sage’s shade towards the camera says it all:
To be fair, the panel does seem to genuinely get along with each other, but the set-up for the segments and the limited time they have makes it very difficult for Sage to make sure all three analysts chime in with their thoughts in a concise manner.
A few months ago, Sage talked to Nina Mandell of USA TODAY about the challenges of being the host:
“I just try to feel my way throughout each segment and then jump in when I need to,” she said. “And most importantly follow up. Because these guys, they’re talking, if they say things and then it’s like ‘wait wait wait repeat what you said, clarify this here, are you crazy how could you say that?’”
The group, she said, is still learning.
“This is our first season together,” she pointed out. “And all four of us have very different personalities. What’s easier for me though is, I’m the host, I’m not the analyst so my opinion doesn’t really matter.”
She also told The Hollywood Reporter about managing Simmons, who is always eager to go beyond his allotted time:
“Bill is on the far end [of the desk], and he and I have established some sign language too, I always know when he has more to say as he lifts his head and chin up in a ‘what’s up’ kind of motion, then I look at his eyes and he looks back hard at me,” she explains. “I am proud of myself for mastering the art of sign language with Bill Simmons!”
“Sometimes the producer is just talking to just me, or sometimes he is talking to all four of us but I don’t know if he is,” explains Steele. “Then I will do the shake off to Bill so that he knows we’re going to break,” and has to stop talking!
The Countdown crew is still in the early stages of figuring each other out, and while TNT’s “Inside The NBA” remains the standard-bearer, there’s definitely time for Simmons and Co. to close the gap. But my favorite thing about them is probably their introduction video, which contains wonderful non sequitur moments including Sage Steele blowing on a pool cue, Simmons and Jalen Rose walking away from an explosion, and my favorite: Doug Collins for some reason coming out of a restaurant kitchen. It’s great.
What do you think?
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