Rose out again: ABC, TNT, ESPN, NBA TV will feel pain with several Bulls games scheduled for national TV

It’s a dark and bleak day in Chicago. And I’m not talking about the dreary weather outside.

The news that Derrick Rose suffered another knee injury requiring surgery has the city in a collective funk. Everyone is concerned that Rose will become the Chicago basketball version of Gale Sayers.

Scary parallel: Both players got injured in their fourth seasons. Sayers never was the same. Hopefully, that won’t be the case for Rose, but you never know.

Also feeling the pain today are the NBA’s national TV partners. They were counting on the return of the 2010-11 MVP to produce a big year for the Bulls.

The networks loaded up on the Bulls this season: ESPN 10 times, on TNT nine times, on NBA-TV nine times and on ABC five times.

Some of those games already have been played, but there’s many more on the menu, including two Miami-Chicago games on ABC.

Not having Rose will hurt the marquee value of the Bulls national TV games. While the Bulls remained competitive last year without the star guard, it will be a challenge to hold things together two years in a row, as evidenced by a 39-point loss to the Los Angeles Clippers Sunday.

A strong Chicago team always does big numbers for the NBA. If the Bulls falter without Rose, the league might have to readjust some of its national TV schedule.

Yes, the pain of Rose’s latest injury extends beyond Chicago.

 

 

 

No play-by-play man: Will TNT idea work for tonight’s game?

Steve Kerr had a great line while appearing on Tom Waddle and Marc Silverman’s show on WMVP-AM 1000 yesterday.

When asked about tonight’s Oklahoma City-Golden State game on TNT (10:30 ET), which won’t feature a traditional play-by-play man calling the action, Kerr said: “We told them it was time to get rid of Marv Albert.”

Kerr, of course, was joking. After tonight, he likely will have greater appreciation for Albert, Jim Nantz, Kevin Harlan and other play-by-play voices.

In an interesting experiment, TNT is using Kerr, Reggie Miller, and Chris Webber for tonight’s game. Kerr said he will serve as the traffic conductor, but he won’t be doing play-by-play.

USA Today’s Reid Cherner reports:

The idea for the new booth came from a conversation between Turner Sports COO Lenny Daniels and Senior VP Craig Barry.

“Lenny and I are always talking that television has always been done the same way for the last 40 or 50 years,” Barry told USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday. “Why not just have a team captain and have three guys who know the game inside and out?

“They are all charismatic, they are all capable of carrying a show, so why not just have them talk basketball?”

I applaud innovation, and it’s good way to spice up a late-season NBA game. However, I don’t think play-by-play men should get too nervous that the concept will put them out of jobs.

 

 

 

CNN/Turner Sports set to unveil Bleacher Report branded programming

Turner Broadcasting spent nearly $200 million to purchase Bleacher Report last summer. With that kind of investment, you definitely want to get your money’s worth.

Hence today’s announcement, outlining a new initiative. To me, the most interesting part will be the sports presence on CNN.

From Turner:

Turner Sports and CNN will partner to produce Bleacher Report branded sports programming including long-form specials and daily sports updates that will air on CNN and HLN, it was announced today by Lenny Daniels, executive vice president/chief operating officer for Turner Sports, and Ken Jautz, executive vice president, CNN/U.S.  
  The first of the programming collaborations will be Kickoff in New Orleans: A CNN-Bleacher Report Special, a live one-hour show on CNN to be televised Saturday, Feb. 2, at 4 p.m. ET. And, beginning Tuesday, Feb. 5, CNN will air Bleacher Report sports updates daily as cut-in segments throughout morning broadcasts on CNN, as well as throughout the day on HLN. With information on the latest topics affecting sports teams and fans, these 3-4 minute segments will combine CNN newsgathering resources with the unique perspective of Bleacher Report to offer a comprehensive overview of sports news and information.
  Originating from New Orleans, the Super Bowl XLVII host city, Kickoff in New Orleans: A CNN-Bleacher Report Special, will include a series of features, interviews and profiles that capture the excitement the marquee event brings to the city. The show will be co-hosted by Ernie Johnson, host of TNT’s Sports Emmy Award-winning Inside the NBA, and Rachel Nichols, the newly-hired veteran sports reporter for CNN and Turner Sports.
  Show elements include:
 Guest appearances by NBC Sports analyst Cris Collinsworth and Fox Sports analyst Howie Long, both contributors to Behind the Mic on Bleacher Report, to preview the game.  Interview with Archie Manning, former NFL quarterback with the New Orleans Saints and father of two Super Bowl winning quarterbacks, Peyton and Eli.  Bleacher Report elements including highlights and notable performances from past Super Bowls, game perspective and more presented by Turner Sports host Jared Greenberg.  A fan’s guide to New Orleans presented by former New Orleans Saints standout Deuce McAllister and SI swimsuit model Demaris Lewis.  Interview with nine-year-old pee-wee football star and YouTube sensation Sam Gordon, along with a presentation of her video highlights and telestrated analysis of her play.  Vignettes featuring New Orleans natives such as Troy Andrews (a.k.a. Trombone Shorty), a renowned trombone and trumpet player.
“Leveraging the strength and expertise of CNN and the unique perspective of Bleacher Report allows us to extend the Turner Sports portfolio through coverage of marquee events such as the Super Bowl and the development of consistent sports programming on CNN/US and HLN,” said Daniels. “This strategic integration of Bleacher Report with the leading brands in our portfolio will continue to drive growth and revenue opportunities for our audiences, advertisers and businesses.”
  “Bringing together Bleacher Report and Rachel Nichols in a co-production with Turner Sports is a win-win for CNN viewers,” said Jautz. “We could not ask for better partners as we increase sports coverage on CNN.”
About Bleacher Report   Bleacher Report (B/R), a division of Turner Sports, is a leading publisher of original and entertaining sports content and one of the fastest growing sports media Web sites in the U.S.  Since launching in 2008, B/R’s Web site has grown to an audience of more than 11 million monthly unique visitors.  The company’s distinguished editorial team leads more than 2,000 contributors, and directs Bleacher Report’s unique data-driven approach to creating and programming content.  The result is first-rate sports commentary that gives B/R’s audience the stories they want to read in real-time around the teams and topics they are most passionate about. In addition, more than 2.5 million users have installed B/R’s leading Team Stream™ mobile and tablet app, which provide a comprehensive mix of content that engages a broad array of sports fans at the team and topic level.
  About Turner Sports   Turner Sports, a division of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., is an industry leader in televised and multimedia sports content, airing championship-level sporting events on TBS, TNT and truTV, and managing some of the most popular digital sports brands. Turner Sports’ television lineup includes the NBA, Major League Baseball, the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, NASCAR and professional golf. The company’s digital portfolio includes Bleacher Report, NCAA.com and March Madness Live, and PGA.com, as well as an accompanying collection of mobile websites and connected device apps. Turner Sports and the NBA also jointly manage NBA Digital, which includes NBA TV, NBA.com, NBA LEAGUE PASS, NBA Mobile, the NBA Game Time App, NBADLEAGUE.com and WNBA.com.

Rachel Nichols leaves ESPN for CNN; will host weekend show, do work for Turner

The interesting part of this move is that CNN is going to launch a sports show. At least on the weekends.

Clearly, the chance to host a show was a main why Nichols left ESPN. That and a lot of cash.

From CNN/Turner:

CNN and Turner Sports have hired veteran ESPN reporter Rachel Nichols, it was announced today by Jeff Zucker, President, CNN Worldwide, and David Levy, President, Sales, Distribution & Sports, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.

Nichols will serve as a sports reporter for CNN and Turner Sports and will anchor a new weekend sports program on CNN/U.S. beginning later this year. Her CNN program will focus on the most interesting stories and personalities in the world of sports.

In her role with Turner Sports, Nichols will handle a wide variety of assignments across the division’s vast sports properties including the NBA and Major League Baseball. Additionally, Nichols will cover all major sporting events, including the Olympics for CNN. Her first assignment will be the Super Bowl in New Orleans.

“We’re just thrilled that a sports journalist of Rachel’s stature and expertise will now be a regular part of the CNN lineup,” said Zucker. “Her arrival, beginning next week, is an important step in expanding the range of programming and storytelling on CNN.”

“Rachel is a high profile talent and skilled reporter and we are proud to have her join the Turner Broadcasting family,” said Levy. “Rachel’s broadcast experience covering a wide variety of assignments including breaking news, major sports events, human interest features and investigative pieces will be a perfect fit across Turner Sports’ many properties and platforms.”

“I couldn’t be more excited to join the CNN and Turner Sports family,” said Nichols. “I believe in Jeff’s vision for CNN, and have always admired the great work of Turner Sports and what David has done there. I’m looking forward to getting started at the Super Bowl.”

Prior to joining CNN and Turner Sports, Nichols spent nine years at ESPN, working as a correspondent for SportsCenter, Sunday NFL Countdown, NBA Countdown and the network’s newsmagazine show, E:60, as well performing sideline duties on a number of Monday Night Football broadcasts. Earlier in her career, Nichols worked as a reporter for the Washington Post and the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.

A native of Potomac, Maryland, Nichols received a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from Northwestern University.

National TV schedule for NBA: What a surprise? Lots of LeBron, Heat

With the Olympics starting today, it’s time to start thinking basketball. No, not Olympics basketball. NBA basketball.

Schedules for the 2012-13 season were released. In a stunning development, LeBron James and the Miami Heat are going to be featured in many national telecasts. In fact, it seems, almost every one.

In the no surprise department, Boston at Miami will be the prime attraction on opening night on TNT on Oct. 30.

ABC and ESPN will feature five games on Christmas Day, including–you guessed right–Miami hosting Oklahoma City.

NBA.com has the complete schedule of all the national games. Let the countdown begin.

 

 

Durant, small-market Thunder deliver solid ratings for TNT; bodes well for Finals

The Western Conference Finals also were big for the NBA and TNT. Thanks to the star power of Kevin Durant, the small-market series delivered solid ratings.

From TNT:

TNT’s coverage of the 2012 Western Conference Finals (WCF) between the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs – two of the smallest cities among the 56 metered markets with Oklahoma City ranking 44th and San Antonio 36thaveraged a 5.0 U.S. HH rating and 7,823,000 viewers. The network’s coverage of the Western Conference Finals isup 16 percent in U.S. HH rating (vs. 4.3) and 13 percent among viewers (vs. 6,939,000) compared with last year’s WCF between the Thunder and Dallas Mavericks.

TNT’s coverage of last night’s Western Conference Finals Game 6 – Oklahoma City’s 107-99 series-clinching win over San Antonio – generated a 6.0 fast national rating and 9,498,000 viewers. The telecast is up 30 percent in rating (vs. 4.8) and 16 percent among viewers (8,154,000) compared to the network’s last Game 6 between the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns in 2010.

That’s huge for the NBA, and positions Durant to be the league’s next transcendent star if the Thunder win the finals. He’ll leap into the Kobe, LeBron territory, if he isn’t already there.

Naturally, the NBA would love a finals featuring Durant and LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Big game tonight in Boston. Don’t write off the Heat just yet.

 

 

 

San Antonio mayor strikes back at Barkley with highly entertaining video

For some strange reason, Charles Barkley has something against San Antonio. Not the team, but the town.

Last night, he went off again after the game, and the bit went way too long. It wasn’t that funny.

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro has responded with an entertaining and cleaver video that probably will keep him in office for life. Well played, Mr. Mayor.

Kerr, Miller preview OK City-San Antonio: Two contrasting styles

TNT’s analysts Steve Kerr and Reggie Miller did a conference call earlier this week previewing the West finals. Here are some of the highlights.

Miller on Oklahoma City Thunder Sixth Man of the Year James Harden: “People underestimate his size, his ability to get to the rim and finish plays…once he gets to the lane off the pick-and-roll, he explodes like how [former NBA player] Detlef Schrempf used to. He’s so strong with the ball and entices you to try to strip him [of the ball] and that gets him the ‘and-one’ [foul shots]…You can definitely see his growth throughout his early NBA career.”

Kerr on James Harden: “He’s really their best passer, by far, and that’s why he’s such a great complement to [Russell] Westbrook and [Kevin] Durant. Those guys are thinking first and foremost about scoring and they’re really good at it. [Harden is] a terrific passer and gives the defense a different look with his skill set. Even though he’s coming off the bench, he’s one of the best two guards in the league.”

Kerr on San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich: “It’s pretty amazing. Very few coaches have the ability to adapt and change from what they once were. Pop is ahead of the curve and has seen the league evolve and he’s evolved with it.”

Kerr on the Spurs offense: “Offensively, this is their best team ever, by far. They’re explosive, they shoot the lights out and they move the ball better than any team in the league. They are totally unselfish and they don’t turn the ball over. They execute every possession and over the course of the game, that’s very difficult. They just wear you out.”

Albert on the Spurs: “Watching San Antonio…we were talking about comparing the Spurs to the Knicks of the early ’70s in terms of San Antonio’s ball movement and intelligent play. Gregg Popovich and [GM] R.C. Buford have assembled a team that is so deep. The match-ups in this [WCF] series are going to be really intriguing.”

Kerr on his interest in taking another front office job: “I’m really happy doing what I’m doing now. I’ll never rule it out and I’ll keep the door open for the future. I have no intention to go anywhere at this point in my life. I haven’t heard from the Magic, anyway, but it’s not something I would pursue.”

Kerr on Oklahoma City EVP & GM Sam Presti incorporating the Spurs model in OKC: “There’s no question the influence from San Antonio is huge. Sam started out as an intern there and really learned everything from the Spurs. And, let’s face it, it’s probably the best model you can pattern your own franchise after. It’s an amazing story and he’s done a great job. He’s established the way the organization is going to go about its business. Sam deserves a ton of credit.”

Kerr on his first reaction when you think about playing for ‘Pop’ [Gregg Popovich]: “The reason he is so successful is the way he manages his players. He’s really, really, fun and funny and outgoing but there is also a part of you that is a little bit afraid of him.”

Miller on his first reaction: “My one word would be ‘wish.’ I wish I could’ve played for him. It’s wish. I wish I could’ve played for a coach like that.”

Kerr on how he sees San Antonio dealing with Russell Westbrook and the type of series he expects from Westbrook: “It’s a totally different match-up. The Spurs had two-and-a-half guys on [Clippers] Chris Paul the whole series. They could funnel him right into their help. Now, the spacing changes. When the game goes small, and Durant is at the ‘four,’ things change health-wise. The Spurs will have to change their coverage completely and there will be much more room for Russell Westbrook to work with.”

Miller on how he sees San Antonio dealing with Russell Westbrook and type of series he expects from Westbrook: “That will likely be the featured match-up of the series – the two point guards. Tony Parker has improved defensively but I think he’s really going to attack Russell Westbrook offensively. From an offensive standpoint, Tony Parker is in his prime. The one thing he’s going to want to do in this series is put Russell Westbrook in a defensive stance moving back.”

Miller on the Southwest Division becoming the power division in the NBA: “You look at all the teams that are in that division, absolutely. Three years ago this team [OKC] started out 3-30 and that’s with Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Nick Collison. Fast forward to today…they very well could’ve had the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. You look at the Southwest Division on a nightly basis and you’ve got to bring it. When you go against the Western Conference, you’re going against a very high-caliber team.”

Kerr on the Southwest Division becoming the power division in the NBA: “You have two of the strongest organization in basketball with Dallas and San Antonio in that same division. I think it’s more coincidence than anything. Things usually run in waves. In this particular instance you have two special players in Tim [Duncan] and Dirk [Nowitzki] who reside in the same division and grew up in strong organizations that really knew how to sustain their success. You throw that in with the emergence of Memphis, Houston…the Southwest has been a pretty good division.”

Kerr on Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich seemingly not getting nationwide respect: “He doesn’t want the accolades. Most of that is just the fact that San Antonio is a small market and the team, there’s never a whole lot of drama. They are a machine and that’s the way Pop likes it. He actually enjoys not being out in the spotlight all the time.”

Miller on the issue of raising the NBA entry age limit: “I’m torn on this. We see tennis players start at 17, 18 years old. Golf prodigies start early. If any of these guys were geniuses where they could work for Apple or Facebook at 17, 18 you can’t tell me that none of those [companies] wouldn’t hire those people [17, 18 year olds] for a certain amount of money. On that standpoint, people should have an opportunity to make a living. As a broadcaster watching the NBA, some of these guys aren’t ready from a mental standpoint. From a basketball standpoint, 80 percent of the guys aren’t ready, really to become men.”

Kerr on the relationship between Popovich and Duncan helping to make the Spurs successful: “Pop is great because he’s constantly saying publicly that none of this [the way the Spurs play] would be possible without Tim. Their personalities blend very well. Pop is a genuinely good person who cares about his players, who cares about their families…the two of them are really the perfect fit. The reason the whole thing worked [the Spurs success] is because of their ability to accept it [constructive criticism from Popovich].”

Miller on going against OKC’s Westbrook, Harden and Durant: “The one thing about the Thunder, they are a jump-shooting team. When they have their jump shot going, they’re pretty much an unbeatable team. The key is to keep them out of the paint and contest those jump shots.”

Kerr on preparing as players to get to the Conference Finals: “To win the NBA Championship you have to win four rounds of playoffs. There is a lot of stress involved. By the time you’ve advanced to the Western Conference Finals you’ve been through it for about one month so you’re either really stressed out or you’re used to the routine. These teams are both pretty experienced.”

Miller on preparing as players to get to the Conference Finals: “Stress is good. When you get down to the [Conference Finals], that series is the hardest to win…you can see that light at the end of the tunnel, you can see tape at the finish line and you’re almost there…to me that’s the toughest part when you get to the Conference Finals.”

Kerr on comparing this year’s WCF to other year’s WCF: “It’s really two contrasting styles. In terms of a match-up…it reminds me of the Dallas/Miami series of a year ago.”

 

Shaq not universally loved on TNT

I had hoped to ask some questions of Shaquille O’Neal this week, but the big man was a no-show for a TNT-NBA Network conference call. I wanted his evaluation of his first year as a studio analyst. Maybe another day.

Brian Lowry of Foxsports.com provided his answer: An emphatic thumbs down for O’Neal. He writes.

The former All-Star center might be a jolly giant to have around, but in terms of basketball analysis, all he proves is that the bigger they are, the harder they can be to listen to — and that star players, for whatever reason, generally have a hard time graduating from playing the game to talking about it.

Later, Lowry says.

TNT certainly didn’t need to shake things up, but the powers that be couldn’t resist enlisting O’Neal, an attention-getting hire who won championships with the Lakers and Miami before retiring. Always media-savvy, his career included detours to star in movies (“Blue Chips,” “Steel”) and novelties like the ABC reality show “Shaq Vs.,” so in theory, the transition wouldn’t be a huge leap.

Still, he’s never exactly been a natural as a commentator — for starters, he has a tendency to mumble and laugh at his own jokes — and he almost immediately felt out of place in his new assignment.