Besides the relentless self-promotion, ESPN seems to have quietly negotiated a new provision in its contract with the NBA for TV rights -- the requirement that every former player in the league spend at least a year as an "analyst" after retiring. Every day, the Daily Dime has someone different -- Jamal Mashburn, Allan Houston, Greg Anthony, Tim Legler, Kiki Vandeweigh, David Thorpe, etc. That's not to mention the one-a-day theories from John Hollinger, the rantings of Stephen A. Smith, and the stylings of Scoop Jackson equating Dwayne Wade with Jesus. And you know what? They're all crappy!
Does it not occur to them that perhaps the reason TNT is so universally loved is because they found three guys in the studio that had great chemistry together (e.g., when Kenny got two Devins (Harris and George) confused last night, Barkley blurted out "that's because we all look alike, right Ernie?"), and have stuck with them for years? Sure, they bring in a legend here and there like Magic and Reggie Miller, and have a few random guests in the studio at times, but never at the exclusion of Kenny and Charles.
ESPN has started doing the same thing with baseball -- long gone are the days when you'd just see Peter Gammons and Tim Kurkjian on Baseball Tonight -- as well as football, and seems to think it's better to show they can bring in all sorts of former players who instantly are going to be respected.
But there's a reason I like Marc Stein. He's been doing this for a while now, seems to have inside access to a lot of teams, and has earned the respect. Jamal Mashburn? His proclamation that the Cavs won't go anywhere or the Jazz still have a chance down 0-2 against the Rockets doesn't really carry much weight.
It's why I rarely watch SportsCenter now after a big game -- outside of knowing you'll get Barry Melrose to talk about hockey, with the other sports, you don't know who the "expert" will be, and if it's even someone you care to listen to.