Not only did he participate in the Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game during All-Star Weekend, but he regularly shares his NBA insights on SportsCenter and a variety of ESPN studio shows. This year, he also added a popular new podcast called NBA Lockdown, which he hosts on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays with ESPN.com writer Israel Gutierrez.
Bowen and Gutierrez spent a few minutes chatting with Front Row about what listeners can expect on NBA Lockdown.
What makes your podcast unique? B.B.: Honestly, I think it’s the take from two different worlds. We have two different people with strong opinions: a journalist and a champion insider. I’m not one to toot my own horn, but it’s not often that you are going to get the depth and detail from a champion who has been around great coaches and players. Plus, I’ve always respected Israel for his craft. He has strong opinions about what he feels and I do, too. I think that allows us to have the chemistry we have and the respect we have for one another.
I.G.: Bruce and I go back to the 2000-01 NBA season, which was my first year covering an NBA basketball team, the Miami Heat. We got along great then, we’ve kept in touch over the years, and we get along great now. That means we’re not afraid to attack each other — respectfully, of course. Bruce made a career of being an elite defender, and I happen to love offense. He’s a Spur for life, I’m supposedly a Spurs “hater.” It’s classic Odd Couple stuff, and it makes for some interesting exchanges.
Wright Thompson’s profile of Michael Jordan generated nearly 2.5 million page view across ESPN.com and ESPN mobile web sites.
As numbers go, Michael Jordan at 50 years old is huge.
Not just for Jordan, but for many sports fans who never realized he — or we — could be that old. Wright Thompson’s feature story, Michael Jordan Has Not Left the Building, which appeared on ESPN.com and in ESPN The Magazine last month, captured this sentiment in a way that resonated with readers.
In fact, since the piece was published Feb. 15, it has created big numbers of its own, pulling in nearly 2.5 million page views across ESPN.com and ESPN mobile web sites, while engaging readers two to three times as long as the typical ESPN.com article.
Another huge number: Thompson’s article is nearly 8,000 words, making it a “long form” piece of journalism, which continues to be an important form of content for ESPN’s Digital and Print Media group as it continues to explore new and better ways to tell stories. (Another example hit ESPN.com today with Don Van Natta Jr.’sHis Game, His Rules, on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.)
ESPN’s Patrick Stiegman (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)
We checked in with Patrick Stiegman, ESPN.com Editor-in-Chief, for more insight on ESPN’s approach to feature storytelling across platforms.
What is it about long form articles that resonates with ESPN’s readers?
It’s all about storytelling. “Long-form” is really an outdated term, especially in a digital age. Our emphasis is not on story length or news hole or word count, it’s about writing a story for what it’s worth. A truly compelling narrative — and Wright’s piece on Michael Jordan is one of the most provocative, insightful, raw and revealing profiles you’ll ever read — is irresistible, whether it’s 1,000 words or 10,000 words. From the stunning illustrations by Mark Smith to the pitch-perfect headline to the gifted reporting and writing to the deft editing by our digital and print enterprise teams, Michael Jordan Has Not Left The Building was an exquisite example of one of the most challenging tasks a writer can face: Tell me something truly revelatory about one of the most famous people on the planet. Working with editors Jay Lovinger, Jena Janovy and Bruce Kelley, among others, Wright accepted that challenge, and quite frankly, crushed it.
It seems that more long form pieces have been featured recently on both ESPN.com and in The Magazine. Discuss the cross-platform approach.continue reading…
The head of the expansive TrueHoop Network on ESPN.com — complete with TrueHoop blogs and TrueHoop TV — Abbott led approximately 40 TrueHoopers to Boston last week to dive head-first into the industry’s most intriguing discussions about sports analytics.
Or as Henry wrote on his blog, “The 2013 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference focused on the theme that the biggest challenge in geekery is not coming up with more and better research, but in convincing powerbrokers to change their ways.”
Front Row caught up with Abbott on Friday of the conference:
What is the TrueHoop Network’s involvement at #SSAC13?
This year, I think we set some kind of record with 40 TrueHoop Network bloggers. This is really our annual meeting, but we also covered the conference. A lot of what TrueHoop has been about is that I wanted to get as close to the truth of what matters about basketball as possible. Not things we assume are true, but things that we can really figure out are true. One of the ways into that is the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.
When did you first start applying stats analysis to your NBA coverage?continue reading…
On Friday, Feb. 8, the East Coast was preparing for the arrival of “Winter Storm Nemo,” the blizzard that would dump as much as 40 inches of snow in some parts of Connecticut.
Almost immediately, the ESPN personnel jumped into action to keep the network’s Bristol headquarters up and running. This meant teams worked around the clock to clear snow, ensure employees’ safety and continue uninterrupted production.
In some cases, employees slept on air mattresses through the weekend. Nemo even kept ESPN colleagues in the Los Angeles and Charlotte production centers on their toes as they stepped in to ensure uninterrupted presentations of SportsCenter and other programming. continue reading…
Wright Thompson’s profile of Michael Jordan is available on ESPN.com and will appear in ESPN The Magazine.
In celebration of Michael Jordan’s 50th birthday this Sunday, ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com senior writer Wright Thompson chronicles Jordan’s journey as he reaches the milestone birthday.
The feature appears both on ESPN.com and in The Mag, occupying 10 pages in the publication’s upcoming “Analytics Issue” on newsstands Friday, Feb. 22.
Front Row asked Thompson to reflect on his experience with Jordan.
How did you arrange for the access and how much time did you spend with him?
I started writing letters and talking about the idea to his people; they were intrigued in the beginning, and over a period of months, some comfort developed and I think they decided to say yes. They weren’t shy at all, and didn’t act like they minded someone seeing what Michael was like up close. It was loose and natural from the beginning.
What surprised you most about MJ? Had you spent any time with him previously?continue reading…
Welcome to another edition of the Fan Central Mailbag. Remember, if you have an ESPN-related question, follow us @ESPN_FanCentral and use #FanCentralMB to tweet your questions. You can also e-mail them to FanCentral@ESPN.com.
Before we dive into your latest batch of questions, here’s a quick schedule update. Baseball Tonight (@ESPN_BBTN) debuts this Monday at 2:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2. This season’s Baseball Tonight Goodyear Express Tour starts Monday at the World Champion San Francisco Giants’ spring training site in Scottsdale, Ariz. Baseball Tonight will begin at 3 p.m. the rest of next week. Here’s the full spring training tour schedule.
Now, onto your questions . . .
There was a story on SportsCenter about an email [Baltimore] Ravens coach John Harbaugh received from someone named Mike, who is physically challenged. The story talked about how the team was inspired by the email. Is that story available for me to watch again? — Merle
This is a great story that everyone should watch at least once. A quick summary: 21-year-old Ravens fan Matthew Jeffers, who has Skeletal Dysplasia, sent Harbaugh an inspirational email titled A Reason to Win following the eventual Super Bowl Champion Ravens’ third consecutive loss heading into Week 16 of the season.
When will the NCAA men’s basketball Bubble Watch be available? — Justincontinue reading…
A collection of ESPN’s Super Bowl champions on-set in New Orleans. (Tonya Malinowski/ESPN)
NEW ORLEANS — ESPN commentators offer their predictions for Super Bowl XLVII. Of the 35 ESPN commentator picks, 21 chose the San Francisco 49ers, while 14 selected the Baltimore Ravens as the anticipated winner:
Picking the 49ers:
Tedy Bruschi, NFL Live analyst and three-time Super Bowl champion, 28-27: “The difference is the 49ers’ offensive line. Frank Gore is the MVP.”
Frank Caliendo, comedian/impersonator and Sunday NFL Countdown contributor, 30-27: “Both teams — who have been known for their defenses — have been putting points on the board as of late, but I think the 49ers have a little more firepower — and I really just want to see how crazy [head coach] Jim Harbaugh goes if they win.”
Cris Carter, Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown analyst, 31-27: “[Colin] Kaepernick’s going to run the ball a lot.”
John Clayton, ESPN.com senior NFL writer, 28-24: “With power football in vogue in this Super Bowl, the 49ers will overpower the Ravens at the end. The 49ers are deep in talent and focused, but it still wouldn’t surprise me if they need overtime to get the win.”
Trent Dilfer, Monday Night Countdown analyst and Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl XXXV champion quarterback, 31-23: “As conflicted as I am having to pick between two of my former teams . . . Both move the ball. The Pistol [offense] allows the Niners to punch it in, while the Ravens are stuck kicking field goals.”
Mike Ditka, Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown analyst, Super Bowl champion as player, coach, 28-24: “I like what Jim [Harbaugh] has done and how he’s built the team. If the 49ers do not get a pass rush, they will be in trouble but they have found a way to get it done all season.”
Herm Edwards, NFL Live analyst, 27-24: “The 49ers have too many options on offense that present problems for the Ravens. Even though Colin Kaepernick is young, sometimes being young and naïve in a game like this is a good thing.”
Merril Hoge, NFL Live, NFL Matchup and NFL PrimeTime analyst, 21-20: “The core of the 49ers, the offensive and defensive lines, is the best in football. Colin Kaepernick has brought focus to their offense, but it’s because they are so good in the trenches.”
Tom Jackson, Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown analyst, 24-21: “In the critical area — the front line on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball — I think the 49ers have an edge.”
Keyshawn Johnson, Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown analyst and Super Bowl champion, 24-17: “No one’s figured out how to stop this Pistol offense. Defenses have struggled against this offense and Kaepernick.”
Chris Mortensen, NFL senior analyst and NFL32 co-host, 31-23: “Colin Kaepernick’s composure has been the biggest surprise for me this postseason, and I don’t think he’s going to lose it on the NFL’s biggest stage.”
Jerry Rice, NFL Live analyst, Hall of Famer and three-time San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl champion, 24-17: “The Niners will have a better defense and Colin Kaepernick bringing so many different formations to the offense will present matchup problems for the Ravens.”
Ryen Russillo, co-host of ESPN Radio’s SVP & Russillo, 24-17: “San Francisco has been the best team all season and they will be the better team on Sunday.”
Adam Schefter, NFL Insider, 17-14: “Two throwback teams playing a throwback game in which two undrafted free agent kickers, David Akers and Justin Tucker, could decide the world championship.”
Mark Schlereth, NFL Live analyst, ESPN Radio host and three-time Super Bowl champion, 28-27: “Offensively, Colin Kaepernick — the dual-threat and read-option [QB] — will be too much.”