Wilbon Q/A: NBA Countdown isn’t trying to compete with Barkley, TNT; speaks on changes, Simmons, Magic

First of three parts:

It isn’t easy to pin down Michael Wilbon these days. It’s not that he doesn’t want to talk. The notion of silence doesn’t exist for him.

Rather, Wilbon is a constant man in motion this time of year. His regular gigs on NBA Countdown and Pardon the Interruption should be enough to fill his plate. Wilbon, though, still loves to write, which is why he was in Chicago to write a column off Sunday’s Bears-Houston game for ESPNChicago.com.

“It’s crazy, man,” he said.

After many texts, I finally connected with Wilbon Monday. And sure enough, he had plenty to say. Enough for a three-parter.

We discussed the state of sports writing in the wake of him editing and selecting the stories for Best American Sports Writing 2012; and why he feels the need to continue to cover games and … Continue Reading

Simmons, Rose part of revamped ESPN NBA Countdown

Bill Simmons’ dream continues to get better. The NBA junkie now will be talking hoops with Magic Johnson as part of ESPN’s revamped NBA Countdown.

In are Simmons and Jalen Rose. Out are Jon Barry and Chris Broussard. Remaining are Johnson and Michael Wilbon.

ESPN felt like the show needed some tweaks. Simmons, who has his hands on pretty much everything at ESPN, obviously is seen as an upgrade with his unique perspective.

Thanks to the magic of video, here are Simmons and Rose talking about being “teammates.”

For those who prefer reading, here are some quotes:

“I think the four of us will be able to have good conversations,” Simmons said. “We’re all going to say what we’re thinking. I’m better playing off other people and I think Jalen is the same way and I know Magic is the … Continue Reading

On the cover GQ: Lin-Sanity still lives on for now

GQ has jumped on the Jeremy Lin train. He is on the cover of the November issue.

There’s hardly any guarantee that Lin, now with Houston, will continue to be the sensation that he was last year. So why wait? Let’s slap him on the cover while he still has some steam.

For now, everyone still wants a piece of Lin. I loved the headline that ran on Boston.com: “Harvard’s Lin covers GQ.”

Yes, Harvard. Isn’t that everyone’s first association when they think of Lin? I suppose that’s the case in Boston.

Even Lin questions how long this will last.

“People are always saying, ‘He’s only started twenty-five games, there’s so many uncertainties.’ And I agree. I totally agree. I don’t know how my next season’s going to turn out. The things that I struggled with before last year, I’m going to

Continue Reading

Brooklyn Nets star in new behind-the-scenes series on NBA TV

If I was a player, coach, owner or GM, I’m not sure I’d want my team to be part of an all-access show. I’d find it too intrusive.

Fortunately, there are plenty of teams who do want to participate, especially those that need publicity. Next up: The new Brooklyn Nets.

They star in NBA TV’s new edition of The Association. It premieres tonight at 10 p.m. ET.

Here’s the trailer.

Brooklyn could use all the hype it can get as the team settles into its new home. And it’ll be about Brooklyn as much as the team. The first episode includes Brooklyn native, actress Rosie Perez, taking Joe Johnson around the borough.

Perez said:

“I just loved how people were so real with him. Even myself. I said, ‘My goodness, you talk slow as hell.’ He said, ‘Yeah, you just say

Continue Reading

The decision: Game 3 or U.S. Open tonight? Tiger or LeBron?

So what are you watching tonight? Game 3 of the NBA Finals or the final round of the U.S. Open?

We have been handed this delicious Father’s Day bounty thanks to the Open being in San Francisco.

In a brilliant decision beginning with the 2010 tournament at Pebble Beach, NBC decided to air these West Coast Opens in prime time. The last group of Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell goes off at 6:10 p.m ET. That means the final putt won’t go down until 10:30-11 p.m. ET.

I love it, and so many other golf fans. Nothing like enjoying a beautiful day and then coming home to watch some big-time golf.

But there’s more. Also on the menu is Game 3 of the NBA Finals airing on ABC. Big game to see if LeBron James and the Heat can take control of the series at … Continue Reading

Stanley Cup Final could have used a Gretzky; Game 1 ratings soar with LeBron, Durant

It’s all about big, big stars.

The NBA has them for its final; the NHL didn’t. Just look at the ratings.

Final numbers for the Stanley Cup finals were the lowest since 2007. The Los Angeles Kings-New Jersey ratings were down 33 percent from last year, averaging 3 million viewers per game.

Meanwhile, Game 1 of the NBA Finals did an 11.8 overnight rating, the highest ever for a game on ABC. And it only figures to get bigger if LeBron James and company can win a few games in this series.

The NBA rating speaks to the star power of a final that includes James, Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade, Russell Westbrook. As much as people hate the Heat, they still tune in to watch. I thought it was great that they made the finals. Rooting for Miami to lose to Boston is … Continue Reading

ESPN hires NBA referee equivalent to Mike Pereira

Sound move by ESPN. The network has hired a former NBA official to lend insights for its coverage of the finals on ABC.

Richard Deitsch of SI.com reports Steve Javie will work as a rules analyst for the network’s pregame and postgame coverage of the NBA Finals, as well as SportsCenter.

Javie, a 25-year ref who had to retire because of a bad knee, told Deitsch that he was inspired by Mike Pereira’s work on Fox’s NFL coverage.

“Mike and I are friends and I think what he’s done has fantastic,” Javie said.  “He’s been the trailblazer here and he told me he thought the NBA, ESPN or TNT  would be interested in something like this. I think Mike has really gained  credibility for officials in the NFL, but fans of the NBA have never heard from  or been given the

Continue Reading

Saturday flashback: Montage of Jordan clutch shots show James how it is done

OK, LeBron, that was pretty good Thursday. But can you do this?

Showing how it is done in the clutch, here is a montage of Michael Jordan at his best. Pretty incredible stuff. Also, great to hear the great Johnny Kerr celebrating those shots.

Continue Reading

Dream Team rises again in NBA TV documentary

The U.S. basketball team will have plenty of star power in London, but there will be only one Dream Team.

Twenty years ago in Barcelona, a team for the ages transformed basketball. A new documentary on NBA TV (Wednesday, 9 p.m. ET) chronicles Michael, Magic, Larry, Charles, Patrick, Scottie and the rest with interviews and rare footage.

I’ll have more next week, but here’s a video clip with the release below.

From NBA TV:

NBA TV will celebrate the 20th anniversary of USA Basketball’s iconic team, which captured the attention of fans around the globe, when the network premieres NBA TV’s “The Dream Team” presented by Right Guard on Wednesday, June 13, at 9 p.m. ET.

Narrated by writer/director/producer Ed Burns, the film will be the definitive documentary of the historic 1992 USA Basketball team, featuring recent interviews with all 12 Continue Reading

Will basketball fans tune into Oklahoma City-San Antonio series?

This is a long way (as in light years) from Yankees-Red Sox. Or Lakers-Celtics for that matter.

The Western Conference final between Oklahoma City and San Antonio (game 1, Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET, TNT) should provide a good barometer for the growth of the NBA. This is a highly regional match-up, although it’s not even close on the passion meter as Texas-Oklahoma in college football.

San Antonio is the nation’s 36th largest market, while Oklahoma City is 44th. San Antonio has the Alamo and a great River Walk. Not sure what Oklahoma City has, but from listening to a Bill Simmons podcast with SNL’s Bill Hader, an OK City native, it doesn’t sound like much.

As far as star power, San Antonio, with four NBA titles, continues to mysteriously fly under the radar. Tim Duncan easily is the most under hyped … Continue Reading