Bill Simmons took to task his former employer ESPN for editing him out of an interview he conducted with NBA commissioner Adam Silver when World Wide Leader morning show “Get Up!” aired highlights on Wednesday -- but the network claims it's a non-story.
“Incredible CGI efforts by “Get Up” to cut me out of last Friday’s Adam Silver interview,” Simmons tweeted. “They should have just replaced me with a hologram of [current ESPN host] Rachel Nichols.”
Simmons rose to fame at ESPN, dabbling in everything from podcasting and producing documentaries to co-hosting the network’s NBA content. But Simmons was suspended by ESPN in 2014 for criticizing NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and a few months later the network decided not to renew his contract.
Simmons has since founded The Ringer, a thriving sports and pop culture media brand. While Simmons’ breakup with ESPN initially appeared ugly, the two have somewhat rekindled a relationship as of late. Simmons recently appeared on ESPN’s “Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz” and "Always Late with Katie Nolan," while current ESPN personality Ryen Russillo is allowed to have a podcast on The Ringer.
So it raised eyebrows on Wednesday when ESPN's morning show aired highlights from an interview Simmons conducted last week at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston with the NBA honcho that didn’t feature Simmons himself. He was removed, making it appear that Silver was talking to an empty stage or "invisible Bill," as one tweeter put it.
Simmons even urged his longtime friend, current ESPN host Jalen Rose, to defend him. Rose responded that he “got” Simmons, but didn’t elaborate.
“There is absolutely nothing to this. It’s a non-story. We ran clips of Adam Silver with Bill Simmons on ESPN shows/platforms,” an ESPN spokesperson told Fox News.
An ESPN source close to the situation pointed out that ESPN’s “The Jump” ran the same clip but didn’t edit out Simmons. The source said that each show has its own production team and “Get Up!” simply decided to give the video a “less cluttered look.”
However, Simmons wasn't the only person to notice the odd edit on "Get Up!" and media watchdogs were quick to slam ESPN for the move.
Sports Illustrated media columnist Jimmy Traina wrote, “Tsk, tsk, tsk, ESPN. Is it really necessary to be this petty? Did you really think you wouldn't be called out for such nonsense?”
Author and radio host Clay Travis called it “next level petty,” while Decider’s Claire Spellberg said the move “can only be described as a supremely petty,” and said it escalates ESPN’s beef with its former star.
Deadspin’s Lauren Theisen wrote that Silver appeared to “talk to a man wearing an invisibility cloak,” noting that ESPN didn’t bother to remove Simmons’ ‘ghostly” voice from the clip.
Awful Announcing’s Sean Keeley wrote that “very time we think this he-said-corporate-behemoth-said candle has burned out for good, along comes another petty move from one side to ignite the flame once more,” and paraphrased Ferris Bueller when analyzing the situation.
“It’s a little childish and stupid, but then, so is the sports media world,” Keeley wrote.
The Ringer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.