The NBA Playoffs and much of the sports world came to a screeching halt on August 26. The Milwaukee Bucks refused to take the floor for a first round game against the Orlando Magic in protest of the Kenosha, Wisconsin police shooting Jacob Blake in the back.
While the rest of the NBA slate followed suit, pausing play for two days, many fans also remember the moment a television personality joined in. Kenny Smith walked off the set of TNT’s Inside the NBA that night, saying that he was emotional and tired and didn’t know how to do the show.
His friend and Inside the NBA co-host Charles Barkley talked about that moment this week and said he didn’t like it in the moment.
Barkley was a guest on The Ringer’s podcast Winging It with Vince Carter. Co-host Annie Finberg asked Barkley what his thoughts were that night. He said that he thought Smith owed him, Shaq, and Ernie a heads up of what he was thinking and what was about to happen.
“He should’ve told us in advance. Because I had just said that it was bogus what the Milwaukee Bucks just did to the Orlando Magic. They didn’t tell them. And then like 30 seconds later, he did the exact same thing,” Barkley said. “I had no problem with him walking off. He should’ve told us so we could’ve prepared. The show was like, ‘Uh-oh.'”
Being fair to Smith here, it is possible that he didn’t know what he was going to do until it was too late to give his team an off-camera heads up. Awful Announcing’s Ian Casselberry writes that the surprise of that that moment is what made it so memorable.
“Smith walking off the set was also a more powerful moment because of its apparent spontaneity. Had it been more organized, the moment likely wouldn’t have been as notable. Ultimately, the show didn’t have to suffer because Smith left in protest.”
Barkley is under some fire from social media for saying that he wouldn’t put the killing of Breonna Taylor in the same category as the murders of Ahmaud Arbrey or George Floyd. While he did note during the podcast that he thought the Bucks put the rest of the NBA in a position where they all had to refuse to play, his beef with Kenny clearly isn’t about Kenny’s position on the police shooting a man in the back. It seems that this is one co-worker telling another that his actions left the team in an awkward situation.
Charles Barkley did not say if he and Kenny Smith ever addressed the situation. He only said “I got nothing but love and respect for Kenny.”
Poll Data Shows Tepid Response To Tom Brady Joining FOX
“A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.”
FOX Sports reportedly signed Tom Brady to a 10-year deal worth $375 million to make the seven-time Super Bowl champion the new lead analyst for its top NFL broadcast once his playing career is over.
A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.
The poll said 2 in 5 NFL fans have a better opinion of FOX Sports following the deal, with 41% of NFL fans being at least somewhat more likely to watch a game with Brady as an analyst.
Data shows one-third of NFL fans think the deal Brady reportedly agreed to is worth about the same as its reported value.
That reaction could probably be described as “tepid”. That may be exactly what FOX expects and maybe all it wants.
Last week, Domonique Foxworth of ESPN suggested that the paycheck is less about what the network thinks Tom Brady means to viewers and more about showing the NFL that the network values its product.
FOX Not Interested In Joining Streaming Sports Wars
“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take?”
The CEO of FOX doesn’t plan on forking over billions of dollars to be people’s last choice for paid streaming services.
Lachlan Murdoch said at a time when more than 80% of American homes already have some kind of paid streaming service, it’s not worthwhile to jump on that train.
Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ typically account for the average streaming presence in a household.
“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take,” Murdoch said at a tech conference earlier this year. “And so the billions of dollars that’s being spent by multiple aspirants is all for that last position. And so we are extraordinarily — I want to say that — we’re happy to be sort of sitting on the sidelines.”
Murdoch told Benjamin Swinburne that when it comes to the NFL, FOX’s media rights are the same as CBS, NBC and ESPN. The main focus for the company remains on keeping games on TV.
“We don’t believe it helps us to put those rights under a streaming service or free on over-the-air. We think it’s very important that those rights remain exclusive to the broadcast environment,” Murdoch said.
FOX does stream games through its app, but it is only the games it is also carrying on its broadcast network or FS1.
NBA Draft To Get Simulcast From ESPN & ABC
“This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.”
ESPN is set for the 2022 NBA Draft coming up on June 23 at 8 p.m. from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The network announced Wednesday the crews that will handle coverage on both ESPN and ABC.
ABC will broadcast the first round in primetime. Kevin Negandhi will host and will be joined by Stephen A. Smith, Chiney Ogwumike and Jalen Rose. Monica McNutt will be reporting and interviewing draftees.
This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.
Malika Andrews will host both rounds for ESPN. Jay Bilas, Kendrick Perkins and Adrian Wojnarowski will share the set. Analysts Bobby Marks and Mike Schmitz will contribute.
“We’re thrilled that Malika Andrews will host this year’s ESPN presentation as she brings her well-documented, widespread skillset to our main set,” said David Roberts, head of NBA and Studio Production for ESPN. “The event will showcase the scope and depth of our NBA and college basketball talent roster with accomplished journalists and high-profile personalities across ESPN, ABC and ESPN Radio.”
ESPN will air a pre-draft red carpet show hosted by Cassidy Hubbarth from 5-6 p.m. Perkins and Richard Jefferson will also make appearances.