ESPN announced the hire of Paul Pierce as an NBA studio analyst on Thursday. Pierce, a 10-time All-Star who retired in July after 19 seasons in the NBA, will make regular appearances on NBA Countdown and The Jump. He had contributed to ESPN’s coverage of the NBA Finals the last two seasons. “I love hoops, my whole life has been about the game, so this feels like a natural evolution in my career and I can’t wait for the season to get started,” Pierce said in a statement issued by ESPN.
Tim Cato: The Mavericks and ESPN jointly announce this in regards to the site’s coverage. The following statements were released today by the Mavericks and ESPN regarding NBA coverage. Statement from Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban: We are appreciative that ESPN will now commit to Mavs fans and all NBA fans with links to local and team provided coverage of every NBA game. This will assure all NBA fans that they will find team specific game reporting for every game of their favorite teams on ESPN. I am very appreciative for all the support, help and consideration that John Skipper of ESPN and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver provided towards this agreement.”
Statement from ESPN President John Skipper: There have been several conversations relative to the concerns Mark has raised. Mark and I both agree that content written by individuals on site is much better. To be clear: ESPN has never contemplated automated reporting for our NBA coverage. We remain committed to first-person reporting on the NBA. As we did last year, we plan to continue to be present at most Dallas Mavericks home games. When we are not in the building, our game recaps going forward will continue to utilize AP first-person reports. In all cases, in order for fans to be able to access more game coverage of their favorite team, we will now link to team sites, such as Mavs.com, in our game recaps. I appreciate the role Commissioner Silver played in reaching this resolution.”
But last Friday, after discussions between Cuban, ESPN, and the NBA failed to reach a solution, Cuban followed through on his original warning. Both MacMahon and national NBA reporter Marc Stein, who is also based in Dallas and holds a Mavericks season press pass, were told they were not welcome in the building as credentialed media. “This wasn’t about editorial,” Cuban told SB Nation in an email Monday. “It wasn’t about a reduction in number of games [covered] this year.” Instead, Cuban wrote that he’s worried about a lack of “high quality, in depth coverage of every game,” combined with an increased reliance on wire services. The clash was also at least partially influenced by MacMahon’s changing role at ESPN, according to multiple sources.
“Instead of a wire reporter, we will see data fed into algorithms and game summaries spit out,” Cuban wrote. “I think that is a long term problem for all sports.” Cuban continued in the email: “I reached out not just to ESPN, but to all our beat writer publishers and asked what I could do to make sure that we got coverage of all of our games. The only publisher that resisted was ESPN.”
Sam Amick: Mavs owner @mcuban to @USATODAYsports on the decision to revoke season credentials of @ESPNSteinLine & @espn_macmahon “Won’t go into details yet, but it has nothing to do with editorial. It’s a much bigger issue. ESPN can write whatever they want, just like always. This has nothing to do with what we did.”