Simmons preferred Michelle Beadle as an “NBA Countdown” partner instead of Sage Steele (photo below).

By Peter Gleason

Things aren’t always what they seem in sports, in life and especially in the media.

Bill Simmons was fired last week by ESPN and president John Skipper was properly diplomatic in his public comments about his multi-platform star. So the media were left to conclude that Simmons’ departure was primarily caused by his calling out NFL commish Roger Goodell as a “liar” for his boneheaded handling of last fall’s Ray Rice scandal.

But James Andrew Miller, who wrote a book about ESPN, also did a Vanity Fair piece that included these sugar plums:

“In the fall when, at the height of the Ray Rice domestic abuse scandal, Simmons called NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a liar during a segment on his podcast. ESPN suspended him. The suspension was supposed to include a two-week dock in pay, but when he looked at his paychecks afterward, Simmons could hardly help noticing that the checks were for the usual amount… but on December 19, Simmons opened his pay envelope and was not pleased. Two weeks’ worth of salary wasn’t there.”

screen-shot-2014-06-13-at-2-41-22-pmMiller also writes that Simmons clashed with the NBA Countdown team. Simmons has had a prominent role in ESPN’s NBA coverage since 2012, when he joined the show.

“Simmons and the NBA production team rarely saw eye-to-eye. On NBA Countdown viewers could tell that Simmons felt more comfortable, for instance, with Michelle Beadle as co-host than with Sage Steele; it showed on the air. He also seemed frustrated by what he considered the inadequate amount of time devoted to halftime, and other ancillary shows, and objected to slotting pre- and post-game coverage directly opposite big playoff games on other networks.”

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