Here’s Spurs coach Gregg Popovich on how he tells the players to handle media scrutiny: “I give the same speech before playoffs every year. I say, ‘It’s playoff time. Try to keep as many guests out of your house as you can. Don’t read the newspaper. Don’t look at the TV.’ Because all that is is opinions, talk, and talking heads like looking at CNN, MSNBC, Fox, about all the stuff that’s going on with Russia and all that stuff. It’s senseless. It just doesn’t matter as far as sports are concerned. The Russia stuff is a little more important. Sports, and people’s opinions don’t affect what we do on the court. So my suggestion to them is to pay attention to as little media as possible, and your life will be a lot happier. Like if you said something nice to me, I don’t want to come in the next day, and say, ‘Hey, thanks, that was kind of nice.’ If you said something mean, I don’t want to come in and be angry and say, ‘Yeah, what do you want?’ I don’t care what you said. It’s better if I don’t read it. I don’t care. I don’t see it. I tell them to take their kids, put tents in the backyard, and let them stay in the backyard. Keep everybody away from them that’s worried about basketball.”
Deitsch: How many more years do you want to work as a broadcaster? Barkley: I’m trying to make it to 60 because I still want to be young enough where I can enjoy my life and have fun. That is no disrespect to old people, but I don’t think you are going to be having a lot of fun at 70 or 75. From 60 to 70, I just want to enjoy life.
Deitsch: You have previously told me when we spoke that you were considering quitting broadcasting but you have stuck around. What changed? Barkley: Well, number one, money (laughs). I have a great contract. But I am looking at 60 as the end.
A question about the media elicited another laugh. A few Septembers ago, Lowry showed up to media day looking like a new (and significantly skinnier) man, telling reporters that he reads everything that has been written about him, including the pieces that were critical of his playoff performance. After last season’s second-round sweep at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers — a series in which Lowry was sidelined with an ankle injury after Game 2 — there was no shortage of experts calling for the Raptors to break up their core. Now that they are rolling, some of those same voices are singing their praises. “Let’s put it this way: When it comes to that type of stuff, media can always be wrong,” Lowry said. “They always can say, ‘I’m sorry, I was wrong.’ That’s their jobs, though. I don’t criticize anybody for writing anything. I don’t care. The media is going to write what they’re going to write. Everyone’s going to say what they’re going to say. Everyone’s going to have their own opinion. Right? As a pro, you take it and you look at it and you can hold onto it or you can just laugh at it.”
ESPN is filling the content pipeline for its new subscription streaming service. The sports media giant has ordered an untitled documentary series that will follow select members of the NBA’s 2017-18 rookie class as they begin their professional-basketball journeys. Over eight episodes the players will be followed from their preparation for draft night through Summer League competition, training camp, and the regular season. The series is produced for ESPN by Winik Media and 441 productions, and will be exclusive to streaming service ESPN Plus. “It will be really compelling, access-based programming, bringing fans closer to their favorite athletes, telling the story of the journey of adjusting to life in the NBA on the court and off the court,” said Connor Schell, executive vice president of content for ESPN. “I love being able to do storytelling like that and have it be at people’s fingertips.”