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

Sporting News logo Sporting News 4/4/2017 Nick Birdsong

ESPN's Sage Steele and Michelle Beadle © (Getty Images) ESPN's Sage Steele and Michelle Beadle 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.

MORE: How ESPN personalities' careers fared after leaving the network

Beadle, who rose to popularity as personality on ESPN2's"SportsNation,"will become the full-time host 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 at NBA Countdown and SportsNation," 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 a hard time about her homerism.

What does this mean for Steele's long-term future? A staple on ESPN for a decade, she's found herself at the center of controversy on at least two occasions over 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 Instagram to complain about her travel plans being complicated due to crowds protesting President Donald Trump's travel ban.

PHOTOS: 2016-17 NBA SEASON

Los Angeles Lakers' Brandon Ingram (14) drives to the basket as Golden State Warriors' Kevin Durant, center left, and Zaza Pachulia (27) defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, April 12, in Oakland, Calif. 2016-17 NBA Season

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