Sports TV News
Jim Nantz: It’s Difficult to Not Be Overly Sentimental at Last Final Four
“My nostalgia…is usually born out of gratitude as opposed to a feeling of sadness. This is a feeling of just gratitude of having had so many fond, wonderful memories…”
As everyone knows, this weekend will be the last Final Four that Jim Nantz calls in his legendary career. It is not the end of his broadcasting career, but it closes a chapter on what has been 30+ great years. Since 2015, Nantz has been joined in the broadcast booth by Bill Raftery and Grant Hill.
Nantz was a guest this week on Mad Dog’s Daily Bite with Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo and he told Russo that being a part of a three-man booth has been easy for him because he wants to allow his analysts every chance to shine.
“We’ve been doing it since 2015. It’s a very easy dance step. There is actually nothing coordinated like a dance step. I give them the space to be able to really carry on a running dialogue between the two of them talking strategy. I don’t like broadcasts that are overly talkative, to begin with. I’m going to give them a lot of room. It’s not necessary for me to call every rebound, every dribble. It’s not a radio broadcast and they are just great guys.”
During the interview, Nantz mentioned a conversation that he had with a friend of his who reminded him that during his first basketball game he called as the lead play-by-play announcer for CBS, Hill made the first basket. Four years prior, Raftery was the analyst on the first NCAA Tournament he called. He got the chance to reflect on that a little bit and said how hard it will be to leave guys that he has shared many memories with.
“All these little parallels early in your life, you never know what stuff comes back to you full circle. Somebody is in your life, they come, they go, you never know down the road you are actually going to maybe be re-united and share some really important time with these folks. I’ve just loved their friendship. Raft and Grant, that’s one of the hardest things about saying goodbye, but it’s the right time.”
While Nantz will feel nostalgia this weekend, he said he will try to not get over-sentimental because it isn’t the end of his broadcasting career. Yes, he will feel some sadness due to some people he has been with for years not being there. However, he said that this is a happy occasion for him.
“I’m committed to absorbing it all and not getting over the top sentimental. I’m not retiring from broadcasting. I hope to be continuing on with it for many years to come with the NFL and with golf. I’m going to be retiring to about a 40-week-a-year schedule on the road….It’s a rich schedule.
“I am nostalgic. In my heart, Billy Packer is not here. Pat McGrath, my stats guy, died of a heart attack on the eve of the tournament. 30 years doing the NCAA Tournament together with Pat. Those are definitely thoughts I’m going to be carrying with me, but this is a happy, joyous occasion.
“My nostalgia or sentimentality is usually born out of gratitude as opposed to a feeling of sadness. This is a feeling of just gratitude of having had so many fond, wonderful memories and working with many great people and getting to know generations of players and coaches, and trying to somehow lend the right tone to it all, tell proper stories, and allow America to get to know them a little bit better. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Nantz did have an idea earlier this year of being able to hug Packer after his last game. Unfortunately, Packer died in January, but Nantz mentioned the bond that the two of them had on and off the basketball court.
“I wanted to be able to walk off the court and be able to give him a hug. I am a nostalgic person. Billy is the exact opposite. Billy is the least nostalgic person maybe you would ever know, but I thought he might do it. But, staying in touch with the family, I knew that Billy’s health had taken a really bad turn in October and November and that was just not going to happen. On January 25, he passed away.
“I’m thinking about him a lot. I’m not going to kid you. It was a special bond and friendship and it went well beyond the years of 2008 when he called his last game. It was always there.”
Ricky Keeler is a reporter for BSM with a primary focus on sports media podcasts and national personalities. He is also an active podcaster with an interest in pursuing a career in sports media. You can find him on Twitter @Rickinator555 or reach him by email at RickJKeeler@gmail.com.
Sports TV News
Charles Barkley ‘Was so Mad’ at ESPN Coverage of LeBron James
“We all love LeBron, [but] he didn’t say he was retired yet. It should’ve been all about the Denver Nuggets.”
When the Denver Nuggets advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time in the 47-year history of the franchise, ESPN showed the team’s celebration for all of four seconds. It then quickly switched to a shot of LeBron James, stoic but obviously disappointed, walking through the tunnel back to the Los Angeles Lakers locker room.
Tuesday on ESPN’s First Take, JJ Redick criticized the network’s NBA coverage for highlighting larger markets and a small faction of players considered to be “superstars.” There’s no way to tell if Charles Barkley was watching, but Redick’s point is one he agreed with.
That night on Inside the NBA, Barkley said he was annoyed with the amount of attention put on LeBron James after the game. He wanted to see the reactions of Nuggets stars Nikola Jokić, Jamal Murray and head coach Michael Malone to making the NBA Finals. Instead, he and other viewers were inundated with more content centered around the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I was so mad this morning I actually turned the TV off,” Barkley said last night on Inside the NBA, “because the Denver Nuggets sweep and get to the Finals for the first time. We all love LeBron, [but] he didn’t say he was retired yet. It should’ve been all about the Denver Nuggets.”
James, for the record, did not even say that he was seriously considering retiring. In a post-game press conference following the Lakers’ elimination, he said he “had a lot to think about” in the offseason.
The Walt Disney Company has reported its most-watched NBA playoffs on ESPN platforms in the last 11 years, according to data provided by Nielsen Media Research. The games have averaged approximately 5.6 million viewers, a 9% increase from the year prior. Moreover, Game 4 between the Nuggets and Lakers peaked at around 11.5 million viewers from the 11 to 11:15 p.m. EST quarter hour window, and averaged 8.2 million over the duration of the contest.
Sports TV News
ESPN Layoffs Resume, NFL & NBA Talent Likely To See Biggest Cuts
“The company is beginning its latest phase of layoffs this week with Vice President of Research, Insights and Analytics Barry Blyn receiving a pink slip Wednesday morning.”
ESPN will look to slash $30 million in salary as The Walt Disney Company’s layoffs continue, with a majority of it coming from talent covering the NFL and NBA. The network’s goal is to have the layoffs completed by the end of June according to a report by Front Office Sports.
Through it all, Max Kellerman’s afternoon television show This Just In could be canceled in order to slot Pat McAfee’s show into the daily programming lineup. Kellerman’s show airs from 2 to 3 p.m. EST, meaning more moves could be on the way to hold McAfee’s statement that his show will air immediately following First Take, which concludes at noon.
Employee morale at ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol is reportedly quite low, with people questioning why the company chose to pay McAfee and lay off a litany of its dedicated and longtime staffers.
The company is beginning its latest phase of layoffs this week with Vice President of Research, Insights and Analytics Barry Blyn receiving a pink slip Wednesday morning. More names are surely to follow as The Worldwide Leader looks to do its part to contribute to Disney cutting $5.5 billion in costs. The final round is expected to impact 2,500 employees in different areas of the company.
The company expects to report its own earnings for the first time this November, and sources have stated that the numbers will be impressive. Conducting the layoffs in separate rounds and saving on-air talent for last, however, has certainly played a role in public perception of the moves, and this week’s round will largely impact executives and other personnel behind the scenes.
Sports TV News
Eli Manning: ‘People Enjoy’ When ManningCast Has to Apologize for Language
“We get a lot of curse words, some from Peyton, some from guests.”
The ManningCast on ESPN has become appointment viewing for select Monday Night Football games. Eli Manning loves the fun, laid-back nature of the show he and brother Peyton put on for fans.
But with live TV, sometimes unpredictable things happen, and sometimes people use profanity. Eli, speaking on Tuesday at the 4se sports and entertainment event in New York City, said viewers get a kick out of when the two let occasional profanities slip and have to scramble to say sorry.
“We get a lot of curse words, some from Peyton, some from guests,” he said. “I feel like we’re apologizing for a lot of things on the show, but I guess people enjoy that part.”
Manning has said previously that the goal is for viewers to get the sense that Peyton and Eli are right there with them on their couch watching the game. Eli said it’s been fun getting to show some authenticity now that he’s retired.
“When I was playing, there was a conscious effort; I didn’t want either my fans or coaches to think I had a life outside of football,” he said. “Once I retired, I realized I didn’t have to hold back.”
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He’s a multimedia journalist and communicator who works at the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond. Jordan also contributes occasional coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly, WRIC-TV 8News and Audacy Richmond. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.