Last June, Mark Jackson, Jeff VanGundy and Mike Breen called their 15th consecutive NBA Finals on ABC.
Next June there will be a different crew sitting courtside for Finals games. In a recent round of layoffs, Jeff VanGundy was let go by ESPN, along with other well-known on-air talent. Following that, buzz grew in recent weeks that the ESPN brass wanted to move in a different direction with their lead broadcasting team and that Jackson’s role was also in danger. Tuesday he was let go by the network, something Jackson confirmed in an Instagram post, which read in part:
“This morning, unexpectedly, I was informed that my 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 part of the organization for the past 15+ years. I would also like to thank the NBA fans watching at home and in the arenas throughout the league for all of your support. To the NBA, a heartfelt thank you for allowing a kid to continue to accomplish his dreams.
“It has been an honor to sit beside two LEGENDS in the business, who are like brothers to me, Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy, and learn so much from them. Lisa Salters is a GOAT and like a sister to me and I’m so proud of the work she continues to do.”
Breen seemed surprised by it all in comments to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post.
“It’s sad because we really thought we had something special and that’s going to be the thought going forward is that we were able to do it a lot longer than anybody ever did,” Breen told The Post. “It’s something we’ll all treasure, but we just wish it was a little bit longer.
Multiple reports say ESPN will promote Hall of Famer Dorris Burke and hire long-time coach (and former broadcaster) Doc Rivers to work alongside Breen on the network’s A team. That is likely the crew working next year’s NBA Finals, but they will be lucky to have as long a run as Breen/Jackson/VanGundy did.