Covering the NBA playoffs

For ESPN employees working closely on the NBA property, the final night of the regular season is circled on their calendars.

Each year, approximately 30 colleagues representing various departments — programming, production, digital media, event operations, travel, finance and communications  —  collaborate on NBA playoff coverage logistics, with the postseason tipping off just a few days later (Saturday April 16, on ESPN and ABC). Wednesday night, it was time to convene.

“It is a big undertaking and speaks to the amount of coordination which takes place in order to put the games on the air, get our personnel to the venues, and to let our fans know which games we are showing,”said Doug White, senior director, programming and acquisitions. “It’s one of the few times we are able to collectively gather in one room and it’s great to see everyone working together.”

First, the ESPN programming team works with the league to determine the playoff schedule.

“Piecing together the postseason schedule is a massive jigsaw puzzle,” said Matt Volk, manager, programming and acquisitions.  “At the same time, it is one of the most exciting nights of the year.  There are several logistical hurdles to overcome, but we work closely with the NBA to try and assemble the best possible schedule for our audience.”

Once the schedule is finalized, ESPN’s other NBA business units match commentators and staff with the games (both television and radio), coordinate travel schedules and budgetary information, and prepare to disseminate the scheduling information to the public.

It’s early the next morning when the last person leaves the building, but no one is looking for sympathy.  We work in sports.  We’re fans, too, and the passion and energy we have for the NBA carries on throughout the playoffs.

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