Media Rumors


Storyline: Media Layoffs
TNT will look ahead to the NBA’s restart with a series of one-hour special editions of the Sports Emmy Award-winningInside the NBA presented by Kia and new NBA on TNT Tuesday Night studio shows starting Tuesday, July 7, at 8 p.m. ET. Inside the NBA’s Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal will be featured on Thursday nights, while Dwyane Wade, Candace Parker, O’Neal and Adam Lefkoe will appear on Tuesday nights. TNT’s Chris Haynes will report from Orlando.
After four years of work as the Portland Trail Blazers play-by-play announcer, Kevin Calabro said he is stepping down. “This was a very difficult decision to make and I want to thank the Allen family and Chris McGowan for their support and understanding,” said Calabro in a statement Wednesday. “I’ll always be grateful to the Rip City fans for welcoming me into the family.”
Blackburn is giving Silver a July 21 deadline to respond to three questions she poses at the letter’s end regarding China Central Television’s ban on NBA games, the league’s relationship with Chinese state-owned enterprise Alibaba and the league’s training center in the controversial region of Xinjiang. The relationship between China and the United States is at a “pivotal moment,” she writes, and it could eventually lead to a new Cold War.
The letter closes with these three questions/requests: 1. What are the anticipated financial consequences of China Central Television’s (CCTV) continued ban on the airing of NBA games? 2. Please outline the scope of the NBA’s relationship with Chinese state-owned enterprise Alibaba. 3. The NBA reportedly continues to operate a training center Xinjiang, one of the world’s worst humanitarian zones. What steps is the NBA taking to shutter this location?
Adam Silver explained in a TIME100 interview with Sean Gregory, bad language is a real concern as the NBA resumes its season at Disney. “I think often players, they understand when they’re on the floor, they’re saying certain things to each other because it’s so loud in the arena, they know a lot of it is not being picked up. They may have to adapt their language a little bit knowing what they say will likely be picked up by microphones and in all seriousness, we may need to put a little bit of a delay.”
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
According to the data, media giants Disney and WarnerMedia logged some of the steepest ad declines last month due to a delay in the NBA playoffs, which typically take place in May and is broadcast by Disney’s ABC and ESPN and WarnerMedia’s TNT. The lack of the playoffs caused WarnerMedia ad revenue to fall by 45.5 percent during the month while Disney saw its ad sales dip by 39.6 percent, the data said.

Marv Albert to sit out Disney World restart

Marv Albert, arguably the greatest NBA play-by-player of all-time, will not be part of TNT’s on-site coverage when the NBA resumes its season in July at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., The Post has learned. Albert, 79, has been the longtime lead voice for Turner, but will not be a part of the coverage with the NBA planning to have its national announcers on site in the league’s bubble.
This rumor is part of a storyline: 491 more rumors
Gregg Popovich. Doris Burke: I adore Gregg. Listen, I don’t like those [courtside] interviews more than anybody else, but I tell a story about Pop that will capture him. He loses Game 7 [of the 2013 NBA Finals]. I’m walking out of Miami Arena, and he’s gonna cross paths with me. I don’t even want to make eye contact with him. I put my head down and I step back and allow him to pass. And he grabs my shoulders and he turns me to him and he says, “Now what are you gonna do with your offseason?” I’m stunned, and I said, “I’m actually gonna make a trip to Napa.” He goes, “Doris, here’s my secretary’s email. You send her a note, tell her what you’re doing.” He sent me an email back with a list of places I should go. That captures Gregg Popovich more than those absolutely (chuckle) painful moments for the reporters on the sideline.
In the early years, you needed thick skin, right? Doris Burke: I could feel some skepticism when I started calling men’s college basketball, and then obviously the advent of social media made people’s access to you a little bit more direct. You can say don’t pay attention to it all you want, [but] if you’re in the medium, you’re going to see it, it’s inevitable. I’ve had some hate mail sent to my house that was a little bit disturbing. It’s going back probably 10 years now, but yeah, all of us want to be liked. All of us want to be considered good at our job, that’s human nature.
Gregg Popovich. Doris Burke: I adore Gregg. Listen, I don’t like those [courtside] interviews more than anybody else, but I tell a story about Pop that will capture him. He loses Game 7 [of the 2013 NBA Finals]. I’m walking out of Miami Arena, and he’s gonna cross paths with me. I don’t even want to make eye contact with him. I put my head down and I step back and allow him to pass. And he grabs my shoulders and he turns me to him and he says, “Now what are you gonna do with your offseason?” I’m stunned, and I said, “I’m actually gonna make a trip to Napa.” He goes, “Doris, here’s my secretary’s email. You send her a note, tell her what you’re doing.” He sent me an email back with a list of places I should go. That captures Gregg Popovich more than those absolutely (chuckle) painful moments for the reporters on the sideline.
In the early years, you needed thick skin, right? Doris Burke: I could feel some skepticism when I started calling men’s college basketball, and then obviously the advent of social media made people’s access to you a little bit more direct. You can say don’t pay attention to it all you want, [but] if you’re in the medium, you’re going to see it, it’s inevitable. I’ve had some hate mail sent to my house that was a little bit disturbing. It’s going back probably 10 years now, but yeah, all of us want to be liked. All of us want to be considered good at our job, that’s human nature.
The idea for ESPN’s The Decision show 10 years ago, in which LeBron James declared he’d take his “talents to South Beach” wasn’t LeBron’s idea or his agent’s or his inner circle’s or anyone at ESPN’s. It turns out the show’s idea came from a 38-year-old Detroit Pistons fan from Columbus, Ohio, identified only as “Drew” in a Bill Simmons mailbag column published by ESPN on Nov. 26, 2009, seven months before the broadcast. “What if LeBron announces he will pick his 2010-11 team live on ABC on a certain date for a show called ‘LeBron’s Choice?'” wrote Drew, with no last name published. “What type of crazy ratings would that get?”
Storyline: The Decision
Until Friday night, the identity of 38-year-old Drew Wagner as the person who first pitched the idea wasn’t known to anyone but his wife, Jennifer, and his circle of friends. But as they listened to multiple national radio shows Friday previewing a new Backstory episode on The Decision, which debuts Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN, they learned that Simmons pitched the “Drew from Columbus, Ohio” mailbag column idea directly to James’ inner circle and ESPN executives in February 2010.
Far more satisfying for Wagner, he said, was that he was able to pull off “a big time troll” of his friends who were Cavaliers fans by telling them what had eventually become The Decision was his initial idea, published by a high-profile columnist for the network that aired the show. “It was just funny to me,” he said, “and frustrating for them.” On July 8, 2010, Wagner said he watched The Decision live at his home in Columbus. “I was very surprised,” he said. “I didn’t think he was going to Miami. I figured he’d stay in Cleveland. The only reason to do that is to make your hometown fans excited and announce you were investing more years and staying put. I couldn’t believe he said, “I’m out of here for Miami.’ It was pretty shocking.”
A week before the draft, family invited us to stay in a borrowed beach house at the Jersey Shore. My kids were little, at home we barely had air-conditioning. This was a nice change, being in a busy time of year while raising a one- and four-year-old. Each morning, I commuted a few blocks to the public library, where I was glued to the laptop. That’s where I got a weird call from an editor, upending all of our draft plans. Hey, we had a great idea. Whole new plan, and one that was not attending the draft and certainly not liveblogging it. What was going on? Nothing, he said. It took four or five phone calls to find out: Simmons did not want me to liveblog the draft. Simmons threatened not (or, depending who you asked, never) to write about the draft if I did. I emailed Simmons, asking if we could talk. He replied he didn’t think we needed to talk, we were fine, but “i didn’t want to do my annual running diary if you were live blogging it from the exact same ‘watching it as it happens’ perspective, just because i feel like i’ve earned that territory over the past 6 years. but they say you’ll do it from a different angle so i’m fine with that.”
I was announced as the new NBA editor of ESPN.com at the All-Star game in February 2014. It was made clear to me that it was very very very important to our bosses that I get along with Simmons. Simmons and I made tentative plans to meet that weekend in New Orleans. We had a time—9:30 am Saturday—but hadn’t fixed a place. Then nothing. Didn’t hear from him all day. Saturday night at 7:40 pm, he emailed, “At casino until 730am. Barely made my plane. Can we talk on phone this week?” The executives wanted me to do nothing more urgently than meet Bill, so on Monday, March 10, 2014, I flew to Los Angeles. Perhaps the central crisis of ESPN.com’s NBA section at the time—at least from the corner office view—was the strained relationship between ESPN.com and Grantland. There had been casualties. My direct boss, an editor, and I would spend Tuesday laying the groundwork for collaboration.
On the walk back to the offices, it came up that I was staying at the Ace Hotel. Simmons immediately mentioned the hot spot rooftop bar, where Grantland had thrown a party. He mentioned some celebrities. Then he got all excited, telling Jacoby they should invite everyone over to Simmons’ house. They could hang out by the pool, do some drinking. It would be good for the staff. It was so sunny downtown L.A. smelled good. Who couldn’t go along with that plan? Bill talked it all through until, I think we were on Olympic Boulevard, Jacoby stiffened. How can we make sure, he finally asked, that your wife is OK with this? Because you remember last time … It struck me that Bill bet big on the primacy of his emotions. They seemed to govern everything. Were there other things to worry about? I never saw him ask anything like: “Does that work for you?” Of course, this has a lot of connotations.
Simmons directed much of his effort to old-school vanity projects. He bullied his way onto NBA game broadcasts where he made everyone squirm by sulking, “do I get to speak now, it’s been like ten minutes.” Who knows how much money was spent on Grantland concept TV shows. Barack Obama had some interest in reaching sports fans—Simmons muscled things so that he got the interview. He somehow convinced the world that he invented the sports documentary and got himself a credit on every 30 for 30.
William Wesley—gatekeeper to many a big name—was a great person for Simmons to know. Simmons realized the importance of Wesley at some point and made sure to get close. Somehow Simmons got the impression Wesley never talked to any reporters except Simmons, which was hilarious. Wesley’s contacts include a hundred or a thousand journalists—many of them have told me about their nights gambling with him or the time he was on their radio show in Louisville or whatever. On the floor after some Finals game, as Jade Hoye and I were setting up for TrueHoop TV, Wesley and I small-talked a bit. Then Simmons appeared. He put his face right in mine and told his big dumb secret: Wesley didn’t talk to any journalists except Bill … and me. This was just silly. I met Wesley’s eye, he grinned.
The Sacramento Kings announced today that broadcasting icon Gary Gerould has been named the team’s interim TV play-by-play announcer for the remainder of the 2019-20 NBA season. Affectionately known among Kings players, personnel, fans and throughout the NBA as “The G-Man,” Gerould will call the historic game action in Orlando with Kings TV color analyst and Kings Legend Doug Christie virtually from Golden 1 Center when the season resumes on NBC Sports California, the exclusive home of Kings basketball.
Blake Griffin’s The Pursuit of Healthiness podcast will launch on August 4 with a roster of A-list guests and has already been renewed for a second season, Audible said Monday. The podcast, announced in October, features Griffin discussing how everyday people can keep their bodies and minds in shape, featuring conversations with some of the most notable figures in the world of sports, entertainment and wellness. Season 1 guests include Michael B. Jordan, Arianna Huffington, Queer Eye’s food expert Antoni Porowski, Deepak Chopra, Chelsea Handler and Karlie Kloss among others.
The six-time NBA All-Star will have plenty of guests on the airwaves, including actor Michael B. Jordan, Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington, food expert Antoni Porowski, mindfulness specialist Deepak Chopra, author and activist Chelsea Handler, Headspace founder Andy Puddicombe, model Karlie Kloss, Bulletproof founder Dave Asprey, two-time Paralympic champ Oksana Masters and NASA head of nutrition and biochemistry Scott M. Smith.
“As a professional athlete, I’ve been pushing my physical abilities to the limit for as long as I can remember and have always been incredibly fascinated by what the mind and body can do,” Griffin said in a released statement. “Now, more than ever, wellness of both body and mind is crucial –– my teammates, my friends, family and everyone around the globe need to focus on self-care. I’m proud to collaborate with Audible and OBB Sound on this special interview series, which will make the health and wellness landscape a little less daunting and a lot more fun.”