ESPN replacing Sage Steele with Michelle Beadle as 'NBA Countdown' host

As the NBA playoffs approach, the "Worldwide Leader in Sports" is making a key personnel change.

As the NBA playoffs approach, ESPN is making a key personnel change.

Network veteran Sage Steele is out. Michelle Beadle is in, the network announced Tuesday.

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Beadle, who rose to popularity as personality on ESPN2's"SportsNation,"will become the full-timehost on "NBA Countdown," leading the network's coverage throughout the the postseason, including the Western Conference finals and NBA Finals on ABC. The shift likely means Sage Steele will no longer have a role in ESPN's NBA coverage.

Beadle joined the "Worldwide Leader in Sports" in 2009. Shebegan her stint on "Countdown" at the beginning of this season, frequently joining former players-turned-analystsJalen Rose and Chauncey Billups in the studio on the network's regular Wednesday and Friday night broadcasts.

"The only thing better than working for Connor Schell and Kevin Wildes is being able to spend each day with all of the incredibly talented people atNBA CountdownandSportsNation," Beadle said. "It’s the best job in sports."

A lifelong Spurs fan, Beadle made sure to add: "Did I mention that Kawhi Leonard is the M.V.P.of the league?”

Amin Elhassan, an analyst on Rachel Nichols' ESPN show"The Jump," affectionately gave the lifelong Spurs fan ahard time about her homerism.



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What does this mean for Steele's long-termfuture?A staple on ESPN for a decade, she's found herself at the center of controversy on at least two occasionsover the course of the past year and change.

She abruptly ended an interview with Arcade Fire lead singer Win Butlerwhen he began to voice his political opinions during the NBA's Celebrity All-Star Game. In late January, she came under harsh criticism from the public and her professional colleagues, namely fellow ESPN personality Dan Le Batard, when she took to Instagramto complain about hertravel plans beingcomplicated due to crowds protesting President Donald Trump's travel ban.

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