Sports TV News
JJ Redick: ESPN Sells The NBA As ‘Only 5 or 6 Teams Matter’
“To me, this could be the best thing possible for the NBA and its fans because we have not done a good job of selling the rest of the NBA.”
Following the Los Angeles Lakers’ elimination from the NBA Playoffs, the matchup between the Association’s two most accomplished clubs – the Lakers and Boston Celtics – is no longer a possibility. On Tuesday morning’s edition of First Take on ESPN, JJ Redick suggested how it would be a seminal occurrence for the NBA to have teams from smaller media markets square off for the championship, familiarizing basketball and sports fans at large with new teams and players.
“We somehow have sold the NBA as a league where only five or six teams matter and a league where only five or six players matter,” Redick said on the program. “To me, this could be a watershed moment for the NBA. To me, this could be the best thing possible for the NBA and its fans because we have not done a good job of selling the rest of the NBA.”
Redick pointed out how after Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, the talking points were focused on the Lakers and what the team needed to do to have a legitimate chance to win the series. He reminded people that Nuggets center and two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokić had his third consecutive triple-double, posting an unparalleled statline of 34 points, 21 rebounds and 14 assists.
“We don’t do a good job of selling what the NBA is, which is 30 teams, 450 players [and] multiple superstars,” Redick said. “The fact that people are now being like, ‘Oh, I didn’t realize Nikola Jokić was good’…. Well, let’s put him on TV more!”
Stephen A. Smith told Redick that the NBA has not established its games akin to “events” as much as the National Football League. Smith expressed how he has seen pastors change the time of their Sunday sermons in order to ensure they were home to watch professional football games. While football is very much a team sport, Smith offered Redick his perspective that basketball is “built on superstars.”
“The NBA became what it is because it gravitated to individuality,” Smith said. “Even though the Boston Celtics were a great team and the Lakers ultimately were a great team, they sold Magic and Bird. Michael Jordan comes along – they sold Michael Jordan, and obviously, all the names that we don’t need to get into followed. They sold the individual.”
Smith addressed Redick and accentuated the incredible feats of Jokić, but part of what has made him one of sports media’s most prominent personalities is by having a shrewd perception of his audience. ESPN and other major sports networks are fully aware that Los Angeles supersedes Denver in terms of media consumers, and that the Lakers are recognized as an international brand.
“I’m not where I am today if it were not for the NBA,” Smith said. “Basketball has done wonders for my life, and I’m incredibly grateful and thankful, and the NBA will always be promoted on this show. Please understand in the same breath, we also have to pay attention to what the audience wants to hear too.”
Sports TV News
Neil Everett Exits ESPN After 23 Years
“ESPN changed my life, but now it’s time for me to change my life.”
Neil Everett’s SportsCenter days are over. Front Office Sports reports that the anchor has chosen to say goodbye to ESPN after 23 years at the network.
“ESPN changed my life, but now it’s time for me to change my life,” Everett said. “Time to write a new chapter.”
The network reportedly offered Everett a new deal. Had he agreed to it, the anchor would have taken a salary reduction.
This is a significant moment for SportsCenter. Everett moving on means one of the show’s longest-tenured partnership comes to an end. He had worked with Stan Verrett since 2009.
Everett’s exit comes in the same week that it was revealed Chris Chelios would not return to the network’s NHL coverage next season. The Walt Disney Company is currently in the middle of trying to cut 7000 jobs to save $5.5 billion.
As for the future, Everett says he will seek to increase his TV role with the Portland Trail Blazers. He has been part of the team’s broadcast crew on NBC Sports Northwest for the last two years.
Sports TV News
Chris ‘The Bear’ Fallica To Make FOX TV Debut on Belmont Coverage
“Everyone I’ve worked and interacted with at the company has been so helpful and open to someone who has spent his entire professional life elsewhere.”
As the college football season was winding down, fans found out one of the foundational members of the College Gameday staff would be leaving ESPN. Chris “The Bear” Fallica left the network and has been working for FOX since the new year. This weekend during the network’s coverage of The Belmont Stakes, he will finally make his TV debut for his employers.
“It’s been great. This will be my first TV appearance, so I’m excited,” Fallica said in an interview with FOXSports.com. “But we’ve been cranking out content on the digital side since January, and I’m very happy with how the USFL picks have been going (4-0 last week for those of you counting at home). Everyone I’ve worked and interacted with at the company has been so helpful and open to someone who has spent his entire professional life elsewhere.”
Fallica, who worked for ESPN for nearly three decades, is going to be a major presence in FOX’s gambling content both on air and online. Making picks is nothing new. He had been doing it on College GameDay for years prior to his exit.
In addition to making football picks, horse racing is going to be a major part of what The Bear does for FOX. While this will be his TV debut on FOX, Fallica put the spotlight on one of his colleagues.
“It was a great decision to bring Tom [Durkin] back for this call. His voice is synonymous with the sport for a generation of racing fans, so it will be a treat to hear him call a race again.”
Durbin is coming out of retirement to call the race. This is the first year that the Belmont is airing on FOX as part of a rights deal with the New York Racing Association.
Sports TV News
FOX Reportedly Considering Replacing Reggie Bush on Big Noon Kickoff
“Marchand writes that the favorite to replace the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner is the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner. Mark Ingram II is expected to retire from the NFL and join FOX.”
It looks like changes are coming to FOX’s college football coverage. Andrew Marchand reports that the network is considering replacing Reggie Bush on Big Noon Kickoff.
Bush and the network reportedly argued over money before the 2022 season. FOX kicked the tires on multiple options, including Desmond Howard and Robert Griffin III of ESPN. Eventually, it decided to bring Bush back on a one year deal. With that deal set to expire and the two sides again at an impasse, FOX is eyeing other options.
Marchand writes that the favorite to replace the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner is the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner. Mark Ingram II is expected to retire from the NFL and join FOX.
If Ingram does join the show, he would be the first analyst from outside of the conferences FOX carries. Ingram played his college football at Alabama. He has since amassed more than 8000 yards over 13 seasons in the NFL.
FOX declined to comment on the report. Marchand reports that with no deal finalized, there is an outside shot that Ingram returns to the NFL, Bush returns to FOX and there is no change at all. That, however, is considered a long shot.