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NBA Legends & Entertainers Talk Last Dance With Stephen A Smith

“The special began with Smith talking to Magic Johnson about Jordan’s competitiveness and the Lakers facing the Bulls in the 1991 NBA Finals, a series that the Bulls won in 5 games.”

Ricky Keeler

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Over the last five weeks, The Last Dance documentary was appointment television for sports fans as they watched the story of Michael Jordan and the 1997-1998 Chicago Bulls that won the franchise’s sixth NBA title. 

On Tuesday night, Stephen A Smith was the executive producer and hosted a one-hour special on ABC called After The Dance, which looked back at the memorable moments from the documentary and allowed different guests to reflect on that time period. Smith brought on guests from both the sports and entertainment worlds to talk about their favorite Jordan moments. 

The special began with Smith talking to Magic Johnson about Jordan’s competitiveness and the Lakers facing the Bulls in the 1991 NBA Finals, a series that the Bulls won in 5 games. Magic would end the show with Smith discussing the Jordan-LeBron James greatest of all-time debate. 

Then, the conversation shifted to more of Jordan’s impact off the court. Smith spoke with Whoopi Goldberg from The View about his influence on the world of pop culture.

“I see someone who has taken a brand and pulled it up and through, who took the idea of us and animation and made it totally different,” Goldberg said of Jordan. “He touched everything on the planet and everyone wanted to get next to him.”

One of the more emotional parts of the documentary for people was Episode 5 when the 1998 All-Star Game was brought up and you saw the interview with the late Kobe Bryant about facing MJ. Smith had Shaquille O’Neal on the show to talk about both of their mentalities on the court.

“It’s pretty much equal. Kobe made a great point. We all look at players before us and we take a little bit from them. I am glad they had a relationship,” O’Neal said. “A lot of people always said who is the greatest in the game: Jordan or Lebron. I think you must respect Kobe’s name and add it to the conversation.”

From the broadcast side, we got to hear from Robin Roberts, who was an anchor on SportsCenter during MJ’s run and is now on Good Morning America. Roberts brought up her favorite memories of being around Jordan.

“The press conference before the 1992 Olympics. All of the legends are there,” she remembered. “MJ just kind of scratched his head and all of  the cameras were flicking. It was amazing to see the reaction. I loved people watching him.”

Many characteristics of Jordan were emphasized in the documentary, including his competitive nature. That competitiveness showed on the court and it once occurred in a game of dominoes with Anthony Anderson from Blackish: 

The documentary itself had a great ending, but Smith’s special reflecting on Jordan’s career and getting the thoughts from different perspectives was a good way to continue the conversation and reflect on all of the footage that we saw. As usual, Smith had a good way with words to wrap up the night. 

“Jordan didn’t dance, as in dance around at all, He gave his take on the dynastic era through his lens and we all should love him for it… You can still indeed appreciate today’s greatness while still acknowledging it isn’t the good old days. Jordan did that for us at a time at a time when the sports world desperately needed it.”

Sports TV News

PGA Tour Expects Mic’d Players To Be Common For 2023 TV Broadcasts

“This doesn’t need to be a walk and talk like I did. But we can make it what you want it to be.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Following the success with Max Homa last weekend, the PGA Tour is planning to mic a player up this weekend at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

According to Sports Business Journal, the Tour is considering micing up a player on either the 14th or 18th hole at Pebble Beach.

“The point of this is that if you want it to just be, they have an air pod on your caddie and they ask him one question, he could elaborate on something,” Homa said in an interview on the podcast No Laying Up. “That would be an improvement. This doesn’t need to be a walk and talk like I did. But we can make it what you want it to be.”

Homa added that he appreciated that the questions he was asked while taking part in the segment were solely on the task at hand and tackling the hole he was on.

“It wasn’t about how it is being a dad, how it is being in contention, it’s about golf,” he said. “This hole. That’s what we wanted it to be.”

CBS received positive reviews for debuting the new segment in their season debut at Torrey Pines last week.

It will be interesting to see if having players mic’d up for a segment will carry into NBC coverage or if it remains exclusively CBS. Have to think that in April at The Masters, if CBS keeps with it, the segment has the potential to be pretty compelling especially if the interview is with a player in contention or even leading.

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Sports TV News

ABC Scores Most Watched NBA Saturday Primetime Game In 4 Years

“The game drew 3.7 million viewers.”

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The Boston Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night. While the game’s controversial finish left LeBron James and Patrick Beverly upset, executives at the Walt Disney Company had nothing but smiles thanks to the performance of ABC.

The game drew 3.7 million viewers. That means the Celtics’ win is the most-watched game in the ABC Saturday night prime-time window in the last four years. A February 2019 game between the Lakers and Golden State Warriors drew 4.1 million.

Boston also delivered the highest-rated game of the NBA season so far outside of the league’s stacked Christmas Day slate.

NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC is experiencing a nice uptick in viewership this season. Through the weekend, the Saturday night games are averaging over 3.4 million viewers according to an ESPN press release.

That number represents a 16% jump from last season. The edition of NBA Countdown that airs before the Saturday night game is having a good season as well. It’s average audience is up 3% to just under 1.5 million.

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Sports TV News

NHL Ratings on ESPN, TNT Down in 2nd Year

So far this season, games on ESPN and TNT are averaging 373,000 viewers, which is down from 478,000 last season.

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Viewership totals from ESPN and TNT show NHL ratings have declined heading into the All-Star break, but there are some extenuating circumstances for the nearly 22% drop.

So far this season, games on ESPN and TNT are averaging 373,000 viewers, which is down from 478,000 last season. However, both channels have increased their linear television schedule, doubling from 27 games to 54.

ESPN has aired 18 games with an average of 402,000 viewers. In the same time period last year, the worldwide leader had only aired seven contests, but garnered 622,000 per game. None of ESPN’s games last season had aired on weekends, while the network has broadcast six games on Sunday this year alone. The 12 games ESPN has aired that weren’t on Sunday have averaged 491,000 viewers.

The 2023 NHL All-Star Game will air on ABC Saturday, and the network is hoping for a lift from last season. In 2022, ratings fell 38% from the previous All-Star Game on NBC, and hit the lowest total since 2009. The NHL Skills challenge saw its largest audience in a decade after airing on ESPN in primetime on a Friday evening. Nearly 1.1 million watched the skills challenge, a 30% increase compared to 2020.

At this time last season, TNT had aired 20 games. Through 36 games this season, the network has seen an average of 359,000 viewers. The network is helped by the 2023 Winter Classic, which took place at Fenway Park on Monday, January 2nd. The afternoon contest saw an audience of 1.78 million, up 31% compared to the previous year.

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