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Bill Simmons: ESPN’s Destiny is Biggest Story of the Next Year

“ESPN’s challenge is: how do you keep all these sports rights, how do you stay relevant, how do you pay for everything?”

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A photo of Bill Simmons
(Photo: Jean Baptiste Lacroix | WireImag)

Bill Simmons wonders what ESPN’s next moves are as the company ponders its future in the live sports space.

On the latest edition of The Bill Simmons Podcast for The Ringer, Simmons said the network has focused more attention on its streaming platform than anything else.

“What are the hits that they’ve launched over the last few years?” Simmons asked. “It just seems like they’ve missed a lot of different business opportunities and they’ve spent a lot of time and money on the ESPN+ product before eventually realizing people go there for games and that’s about it.”

Recent reports indicate that The Worldwide Leader is considering working with other media companies in the live sports space. Simmons said it’s been quite a shift for the company.

“It’s like they said, nobody’s outbidding us on anything. We are ESPN, we are the Yankees,’ and anyone they wanted to keep they kept, any sport that they wanted they got, and it was only ten years ago,” he said.

Simmons believes ESPN’s managing of its portfolio of sports rights will be a must follow in the near future.

“ESPN’s challenge is: how do you keep all these sports rights? How do you stay relevant? How do you pay for everything,” he said. “Over the next year, the biggest sports business story is what is ESPN’s destiny, and what’s going to happen if those subs keep going down and losing money?”

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Sports Media Remembers Jerry West, NBA Champion and Executive, Who Passed Away at the Age of 86

“Jerry West, the personification of basketball excellence and a friend to all who knew him, passed away peacefully this morning at the age of 86. His wife, Karen, was by his side.”

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Jerry West
Courtesy: Tim Nwachukwu, Getty Images

Jerry West, a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player and executive who won a collective eight championships, passed away Wednesday morning at the age of 86, the LA Clippers announced. West, whose silhouette encompasses part of the National Basketball Association logo, was a member of the Los Angeles Lakers and played in nine NBA Finals.

“Jerry West, the personification of basketball excellence and a friend to all who knew him, passed away peacefully this morning at the age of 86,” the LA Clippers organization said in a statement. “His wife, Karen, was by his side.”

Throughout his 14-year playing career, West was named an All-Star every season and is the only player to be named the Most Valuable Player of the NBA Finals as a member of the losing team. West had been serving as a consultant for the LA Clippers since 2017 and previously worked in the front offices of the Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors. He will be inducted into the Hall of Fame for a third time as a contributor later this year.

“Jerry West was a basketball genius and a defining figure in our league for more than 60 years,” Adam Silver, NBA Commissioner, said in a statement. “He distinguished himself not only as an NBA champion and an All-Star in all 14 of his playing seasons, but also as a consummate competitor who embraced the biggest moments.  He was the league’s first Finals MVP and made rising to the occasion his signature quality, earning him the nickname ‘Mr. Clutch’.

“Jerry’s four decades with the Lakers also included a successful stint as a head coach and a remarkable run in the front office that cemented his reputation as one of the greatest executives in sports history.  He helped build eight championship teams during his tenure in the NBA – a legacy of achievement that mirrors his on-court excellence.  And he will be enshrined this October into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as a contributor, becoming the first person ever inducted as both a player and a contributor.

“I valued my friendship with Jerry and the knowledge he shared with me over many years about basketball and life.  On behalf of the NBA, we send our deepest condolences to Jerry’s wife, Karen, his family and his many friends in the NBA community.”

Members of the sports media industry reacted to the news throughout the day on Wednesday, reflecting on West’s life and impact in basketball and sports as a whole:

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Stephen and Dell Curry to Co-Host ‘Heat Check’ Podcast

Stephen Curry joins a growing list of active NBA players who have launched their own podcasts, some of whom include his teammate Draymond Green, LeBron James and Paul George.

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Heat Check
Courtesy: Audible, Unanimous Media

Unanimous Media is launching a new Audible podcast on Thursday, June 13 featuring Golden State Warriors guard and four-time NBA champion Stephen Curry and his father Dell Curry, who is a former Charlotte Hornets forward and current color commentator for the team’s television broadcasts. This new 10-part Audible Original, titled Heat Check, will “pull back the curtain on their family’s journey, told through the lens of a father and a son, while talking about the biggest names throughout NBA history.” News of the podcast was first reported by Marc J. Spears, senior writer for ESPN-owned Andscape.

Stephen and Dell Curry will reflect on the path to the NBA and several moments throughout their lives. The show will feature special guests, including Stephen’s mother Sonya, former NBA point guard Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues, and Stephen and Dell’s agent Jeff Austin. Throughout the Audible Original series, the father-son duo will talk about how Dell established the groundwork for Stephen to excel playing professional basketball.

Curry joins a growing list of active NBA players who have launched their own podcasts, some of whom include his teammate Draymond Green, LeBron James and Paul George. Unanimous Media, which Stephen Curry co-founded with Erick Peyton in 2018, is also in the process of producing an animated sports comedy, titled GOAT, for Sony Pictures Animation. The film will be released theatrically on Feb. 13, 2026, aligning with the NBA All-Star Weekend taking place that year in Los Angeles, Calif.

The company also released the Stephen Curry: Underrated documentary last year and an animated version of the Good Times sitcom for Netflix. Other ventures in which the company has taken part include The Queen of Basketball award-winning documentary, the “I Have a Superpower” children’s book and Holey Moley on ABC. Unanimous Media has previously worked with Audible for its series, The Greatest Sports Stories Never Told, which was narrated by ESPN commentator Joe Tessitore.

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Alex Curry Leaves ‘Flippin’ Bats’ Podcast

“This was an incredible couple of years that we had on this show – so much fun.”

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Alex Curry
Courtesy: FOX Sports

Since the launch of Flippin’ Bats, the FOX Sports podcast has rapidly proliferated in eminence and popularity. Over its years on the air, the show has covered marquee events, such as the All-Star Game and World Series, and helped open a new digital space for FOX Sports last year in Los Angeles. Ben Verlander, former professional baseball player and brother of Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander, has hosted the show since its launch in 2021. Alex Curry, former reporter for Bally Sports West, was tabbed as the co-host of the program in the following year, forming a duo that sought to bring levity to the airwaves and celebrate the game of baseball.

After two years on the air, Curry will be leaving the Flippin’ Bats podcast as part of changes coming to the show. The show made the announcement within its most recent episode, during which Verlander revealed that the FOX Summer of Soccer would be taking over the digital studio for the time being, which surrounds coverage of UEFA EURO 2024 and CONMEBOL Copa América 2024 soccer tournaments. As a result, Flippin’ Bats will have a different schedule going forward, and Verlander implored listeners to make sure they are subscribed and following the show.

“With the schedule looking different and obviously the show moving from the studio, that is a wrap for me on Flippin’ Bats, and I just want to give a big thank you to the entire crew, community, fanbase,” Curry said. “This was an incredible couple of years that we had on this show – so much fun.”

Curry has filled in across various programs within the FS1 portfolio and also works as a radio host on FOX Sports Radio alongside Carmen Vitali on Saturdays from 4 to 6 p.m. EST. This move came after she joined the entity last summer and hosted a weekend program with Monse Bolaños, who is now working with Steve Hartman on Saturdays from 6 to 8 p.m. EST. Curry stated that she would still be on FOX Sports Radio and that there would be more things coming up in the future.

“I am so grateful to have worked together,” Verlander said of Curry in a post on X. “She never failed to [bring] laughs and banter. Alex, you will be missed and I’m looking forward to seeing all of your future successes.”

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