ESPN and pop music superstar will.i.am have teamed up to deliver “#thatPOWER” for the NBA Playoffs.
During All-Star Weekend in Houston in February, ESPN producers, will.i.am and a virtual who’s who of NBA superstars congregated in a Hilton Hotel ballroom. There, they shot ESPN’s new NBA Playoffs telecast open to the tune of will.i.am’s single, “#thatPOWER.” continue reading…
On Wednesday, ESPN’s Hannah Storm (@HannahStormESPN) spent 30 minutes on Twitter answering fan questions regarding the fifth installment of Face to Face with Hannah Storm, which includes in-depth interviews with elite NBA point guards. Using the hashtag #HannahFacetoFace, the SportsCenter anchor interacted with fans about her interviews with Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, Chris Paul and Steve Nash. continue reading…
Today, ESPN begins a two-week tribute honoring NBA legend Michael Jordan leading up to his 50th birthday on Sunday, Feb. 17.
The multiplatform celebration includes vignettes on SportsCenter remembering Jordan’s legacy, a robust slate of Jordan’s greatest performances on ESPN Classic and SportsCenter’s Top 50 Jordan highlights with fan participation determining the Top 10.
Among the notable figures contributing to the project are NBA Commissioner David Stern, NBA All-Stars LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul, Basketball Hall of Famer and ESPN analyst Bobby Knight and Grammy Award-winning hip-hop artist COMMON.
To light the first candle on the Jordan birthday cake, Front Row asked our NBA commentators, analysts and reporters one important question: If you could get Michael Jordan anything for his birthday, what would it be?
The ideas for the North Carolina grad, Chicago Bulls’ six-time NBA champion and Charlotte Bobcats chairman are both insightful and amusing.
What do you get the greatest player to play in the NBA for his birthday, especially when he has all he wants? I decided to give Michael a Birthday Basket which includes the following:
• Two season tickets to the Duke Blue Devils men’s basketball games
• A Duke, home jersey, No. 23
• A year’s supply of Powerade
• And, if it existed, a signed copy of former Chicago Bulls General Manager Jerry Krause’s book How Management Wins NBA Championships Year After Year, with a foreword by Phil Jackson.
If I could give Michael Jordan anything for his 50th birthday, I would give him back the game, Dec. 23, 1988, when I hit a buzzer beating shot over him and his Chicago Bulls for the expansion Charlotte Hornets. I’m sure that loss has haunted him his entire career.
Editor’s note: I Follow is all about ESPN employees on Twitter: what they tweet, whom they follow and how you can interact socially with anyone and everyone.
Twitter Handle:@lonmceachern Following: 55 Followers: 7,456 (*As of 1/24/13)
Lon McEachern is known as ESPN’s “voice of poker.” But he’s also in his first season covering ESPN’s bowling telecasts. McEachern is paired with PBA Hall of Famer Randy Pedersen as the commentating team.
Both will be on-site to call the action live for the first of six PBA League events on ESPN, airing Sunday, Jan. 27, noon ET in a two-hour telecast. The PBA League, a new concept in the 2012-2013 bowling season, is an eight-team pro bowling league featuring PBA stars as Franchise Players and celebrities from the TV and sports worlds as team owners, including the Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Paul, tennis legend Billie Jean King, Grey’s Anatomy’s actor Jesse Williams and actor/comedian/blogger Chris Hardwick.
Front Row caught up with McEachern to learn how he approaches his new job and social media.
How has Twitter changed the way you do your job?
I’m very conscious of what I’m tweeting, because I know I’m representing the network and all the good people I work with. It’s an extension of our on-air business. I know what I’m saying will have an impression on people. It’s also direct contact with fans, which you don’t have when you are on TV. It helps me feel like what I’m doing on-air is real and has an impact on people. It’s a nice bridge between us and the folks out there who are watching.
Who is your favorite person or account to follow?
I follow people for professional and personal reasons. I keep track of all the main bowling guys to find out where their heads are ahead competitions. Some of my personal follows are @HenriLeChatNoir, and guys like @ConanOBrien and @StephenAtHome [Stephen Colbert]. Of course, I have to follow my San Francisco Giants and San Jose Sharks!
Editor’s note:I Follow is all about ESPN employees on Twitter: what they tweet, whom they follow and how you can interact socially with anyone and everyone.
ESPN play-by-play commentator Dave Pasch wears so many hats at ESPN, it’s hard to believe he has time for Twitter.
Pasch is one of ESPN’s most diverse commentators, contributing to ESPN’s TV and radio coverage of the NBA, college football and college basketball. He also is the radio voice of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals.
This past Tuesday, Pasch called the Rose Bowl on ESPN Radio. This Friday, Pasch will join analyst Jeff Van Gundy to call ESPN’s “Battle for L.A.” showdown between the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers at 10:30 p.m. ET.
Front Row had the opportunity to chat with him about his thoughts on the “Battle for L.A.” and how his use of Twitter it keeps him “in the moment.”
In what ways do you use Twitter?
I mainly use Twitter to keep up to date on sports news. Since I regularly cover four different sports — NBA, college football, college basketball and the NFL — Twitter is a quick and easy way to stay “in the moment” on anything and everything in the sports world. I also use Twitter to interact with fans, many of whom have great opinions on the games and players. Some tweet me their thoughts and criticisms on my announcing, most of the time respectfully, which I welcome.
What’s it like preparing for a nationally televised Lakers-Clippers game, especially now that the Clippers have the better won-loss record?
First of all, Staples Center will be electric tonight because the Clippers finally feel like they have some bragging rights. Of course, Lakers fans think that until the Clippers make a deep playoff run, the Lakers are still L.A.’s team. I think this game means more than most regular-season games to each team. That means Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul — the faces of their respective teams — will be at their best.
“Born Into It” is the latest spot from ESPN’s “It’s Not Crazy, It’s Sports” brand campaign.
The spot focuses specifically on the Manchester City/Manchester U rivalry in advance of the much celebrated Manchester Derby. The apt title refers to the idea that sometimes, you don’t pick your team — it picks you. (i.e., Yankees/Red Sox in the US.)
Jeff Gonyo, senior director of marketing at ESPN, was on site in Manchester, England for the three-day shoot and shares some of the behind-the-scenes scoop.
What makes this ad so impactful?
We wanted to be authentic, in every sense of the word, so it was a prerequisite in casting that the actors be from Manchester and fans of the teams. We shot on the streets and in the pubs of Manchester. It was freezing cold and raining sideways for most of the three days we were there, but we had a great time. The actors embraced their roles — they didn’t interact much at the beginning of the shoot but seemed to warm up to each other just a bit toward the end.
Did you have anyone from Manchester on the production side?
The Americans on set included myself and the team from Wieden+Kennedy, but the entire crew was from Manchester, including one of our producers. The slang varies from region to region and he helped make sure we were speaking in the right tongue and helped us have fun with the colloquialisms without crossing any lines.It was important we had the Mancunian perspective on-site.
Why did you decide to focus on this rivalry instead of one US based?
There are a lot of storied rivalries in the U.S. — and we’ve explored a lot of them in previous campaigns. But soccer, as the world’s most popular sport, also has some of the most historic rivalries — Man City vs. Man U is certainly one of them. It is ingrained into the spirit of the town and it runs generations deep. As the popularity of soccer in the U.S. continues to grow, we wanted to shed a little light onto a rivalry Americans may not know as much about. There is no doubt that in Manchester, you are born a red or a blue — and to change that just wouldn’t fly. In fact, it’s rubbish.
• An ESPN senior researcher explains how his department stays on top of the seemingly constant shuffling of the NCAA conferences. It involves a very extensive spreadsheet.
• Many gathered at the University of Pittsburgh to remember long-time ESPN college football analyst Beano Cook who passed away in October. ESPN college football reporter Ivan Maisel was among the speakers; he shared a draft of his speech with Front Row. continue reading…
On Wednesday evening during the telecast of the Los Angeles Clippers’ victory over the Dallas Mavericks, ESPN Marketing debuted the latest spot in the ESPN NBA RV campaign.
In the commercial, Clippers point guard Chris Paul joins ESPN commentators Magic Johnson, Mike Breen and Jon Barry in a decoy RV to avoid the relentless “LA paparazzi.”
Their plan goes smoothly until they realize that one analyst boarded the wrong vehicle. In the second RV, Jeff Van Gundy is surrounded by look-alikes representing each of his commentator counterparts, as well as Paul.
ESPN Marketing worked with Wieden + Kennedy New York on the creative process, including the incredible casting.
Front Row spoke to a few of the doubles to learn a little more about their experience:
Actor Willy Rosner, who doubled for Van Gundy:
The wardrobe person gave me my clothes to try on and showed me to the changing room on the set. I started to get undressed when Magic walked in with his wardrobe to try on. Never in a million years would I have ever thought I’d be standing in my underwear next to Magic Johnson. It was very surreal. Standing next to Magic made me feel like Danny Devito in Twins.
Actor Darryl Dunning II, who doubled for Paul:
I grew up watching Magic with my Pops, so I snapped a photo & showed my Dad. It made his day. I resemble Chris in both stature and look so I knew it was only a matter of time before we would work together. continue reading…
Christmas Day on ABC features an NBA Finals rematch when the Thunder visit the Heat. (Getty Images)
The NBA season is closer than you think.
On Thursday evening, ESPN announced its 2012-13 NBA television schedule in conjunction with the NBA. It includes a blockbuster five-game Christmas Day offering, which includes some of the league’s best teams, biggest storylines and brightest stars.
For basketball fans, that means some important questions: Who will play on Christmas Day? What teams will be featured Opening Week? Who are the teams with the most appearances?
All questions that make for an exciting and lively discussion.
At the heart of that discussion is Leah LaPlaca, ESPN vice-president, programming & acquisitions, who sat down with Front Row to talk about the upcoming schedule.
How did ESPN’s 2012-13 NBA scheduling process begin?
The process involves our programming team and the NBA broadcasting team. We had our first meeting about the schedule at 2012 NBA All-Star in Orlando, Fla. where we talked about our available windows for ESPN and potential matchups for ABC. That’s where we began discussing the ABC Christmas Day doubleheader and our two games at Staples, which is a fun twist this year.
After our initial meeting at All-Star Weekend, the talks really kicked into high gear around the NBA Draft at the end of June. That’s when we had our next big meeting where we looked at where games will fall into place.
How do you compare constructing an NBA schedule for a full season with a condensed season like last year?continue reading…
Somehow, some way, every two weeks a magazine is made.
While some concepts are born weeks to months in advance, others come on the eve of close.
ESPN The Magazine’s Rivalry Issue (on newsstands Friday), is no exception. No matter the journey of each concept, feature, sidebar, photo, or chart, it’s all hands on deck at The Mag.
Below, several Mag staffers tell how the cover photograph — shot Jan. 24 in Culver City, Calif. — featuring L.A. Clippers’ point guard Chris Paul came to be.
Inside the issue — and on ESPN.com today — Mag senior writer and columnist Howard Bryant explores the notion of how NBA rivalries can survive when stars like Paul are hanging, rolling, joking, texting, bowling and tweeting with the players they are supposed to hate.
Contributing to this interview were: Chad Millman (Editor-in-Chief); John Korpics (Creative Director); Scott Burton (Executive Editor); Ty Wenger (Senior Editor); Nancy Weisman (Senior Deputy Photo Editor); Ross Marrinson (Copy Editor).
FR: How was Paul selected to be the cover of The Rivalry Issue?
The Mag: The generation of the idea was a group one which took place in a staff meeting discussing the issue. It was spawned out of a fascinating question: Can the NBA still build team rivalries when its stars are increasingly as close with players on other teams as they are with their own teammates?
Chris Paul joined the Los Angeles Clippers this season.
Paul seemed a perfect lens through which to look at that notion. Not only is he something of an NBA social butterfly, he’s also one of the most intensely competitive players in the league.
He seemed like a natural cover and quite frankly, our best option. Then the head pat with the Los Angeles Lakers happened after we interviewed him and it felt like we were catching him at the right time because suddenly, he had a real rival.
With all of this as a foundation for the story, we were also able watch the birth of the Lakers-Clippers rivalry right before our eyes.
FR: How receptive was Paul to the idea and the concept?
The Mag: Per Senior Deputy Photo Editor, Nancy Weisman, the initial concept was to show Paul as a fierce competitor who likes and is liked by many players throughout the league. He was receptive to the idea once it was explained to him, and on set he liked a similar shot to the one ESPN The Magazine ran, although in this particular shot his face was intense not smiley, and on red (as opposed to blue).
FR: In Bryant’s profile of Paul on Page 40, there’s a chart that reflects the guard’s career scoring averages against his closest Twitter friends: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Rudy Gay and Kevin Durant. How did that idea come about?
The Mag: When Executive Editor Scott Burton and Senior Editor Ty Wenger were discussing the first draft of the article, and how Paul was claiming in it that he played just as hard, if not harder, against his buddies. We realized that this was not only a provable (or disprovable) point, but one that we actually needed to vet. Our notion was that future NBA rivalries will live or die on the ability of star players—many of whom are as close to their opponents as their teammates—to compete ferociously against each other. They needed to use Paul as a test-case for that theory.
The piece was set to close on Thursday night. Wednesday night, we came up with this idea. Ross Marrinson, one of The Mag’s primary NBA researchers, jumped on it, and by 2:22 a.m., he came up with what ran as the finished sidebar. continue reading…
The sports news emanating out of Los Angeles recently seems like it was conceived in a Hollywood studio pitch meeting.
Picture this: “The Machine” and “CP3″ invade LA!
There are no scriptwriters needed for this blockbuster.
Sports journalists have been documenting the seismic events instead, and ESPNLA.com has been at the epicenter of it all.
On Dec. 8, the Los Angeles Angels signed free agent slugger Albert “The Machine” Pujols to a $254 million pact.
Before the baseball world could absorb that stunner, the Angels signed free agent pitcher C.J. Wilson to a pact promising another $77.5 million.
But the Angels’ showstoppers were almost eclipsed by NBA news later that day that the Los Angeles Lakers seemingly were closing a trade to land All-Star point guard Chris “CP3″ Paul.
There might not be enough cyberspace to detail what happened in the Paul saga in the six days afterward.
The quick summary: The former New Orleans Hornets star is in Los Angeles, but as a Clipper, not a Laker.
It was enough to give even the most laid back Southern California sports fan the chills.
For ESPNLA.com managing editor Eric Neel and his staff, the past 10 days have been exhausting but thrilling.
“There isn’t any precedent for it, for us,” said Neel, who grew up in Long Beach, Calif.
ESPNLA.com’s experienced staff of reporters, columnists and editors have been parts of plenty of huge sports stories. The difference in the week beginning Dec. 8 was the magnitude of the stories and the way they unfolded, one right after the other.
“Everybody has seen a big trade go down, or a big free-agent signing, or controversy or bizarre wrinkles to stories,” Neel said.
“For us, what’s new is that those have come in one on top of the other. It’s like waves rolling in on the shore.”
Neel’s staff reacted to the news of Pujols signing by trying to put the former St. Louis Cardinal’s arrival into perspective in terms of Los Angeles baseball history.
“Pujols has just signed the largest contract in Los Angeles baseball history and the buzz in our group is, ‘Is this the most significant baseball player to ever play here, Dodgers or Angels?’” Neel recalls his staff discussing.
“This sounds bizarre and — in a strange way, callous — but by 4 o’clock in the afternoon he’s on the ‘back page.’ Chris Paul’s coming, and the Lakers have jumped into the water sooner than anybody thought they might.”
ESPNLA.com had redesigned the front page to hail Pujols’ arrival with a “WAR” treatment — big images, big headline. But by the afternoon, the redesign was redesigned to accommodate the news of the Lakers’ interest in Paul.
Neel applauded his staff’s tireless teamwork in covering these stories.
For example, Lakers writer Dave McMenamin “was transcribing his notes as fast as he can” for Ramona Shelburne, who was at the Clippers practice. She then could incorporate Kobe Bryant’s reaction to Paul’s trade in her questions for Clips’ star Blake Griffin, Neel said.
The challenge has been pursuing the blockbuster news even as other big sports stories — the Lakers’ various trades — rumored and otherwise — UCLA hiring a new football coach, the Los Angeles Kings firing their head coach, the Dodgers’ ownership saga — must be accounted for.
Working out of ESPN’s Los Angeles Production Center — with Staples Center a Kobe jumper away — helps ESPNLA.com accent its coverage. ESPNRadio 710 helped gather fan reaction videos, for example, to the news of the huge acquisitions.
“We’re a tight knit group. Our methodology all the time is to be as agile and as flexible as we can be, but never more than in the last seven days,” Neel said.