If you were up late watching ESPN Wednesday night, you were treated to Bill Walton as part of the broadcast team for the Trail Blazers vs. Warriors matchup. In 2012 Walton rejoined ESPN as a game analyst for Pac-12 basketball, but it was the NBA where Walton became a unique and popular broadcaster during the 90’s and early 2000’s.
When I flipped to ESPN and heard Walton, I quickly checked Twitter to see if others were as surprised and excited to hear Walton back on an NBA broadcast. Walton’s jump back to the NBA for one game was part of an ESPN promotion, “The Crossover,” which began in 2014.
“The Crossover” sees NBA and college basketball analysts’ switch sports for one game. Walton and Dick Vitale joined NBA broadcasts, Hubie Brown and P.J. Carlesimo did a college game. The former Trail Blazer joined Dave Pasch and Doris Burke on the call.
Walton joined NBC in 1990 following a Hall-of-Fame basketball career, he left for ESPN in 2002, retiring in 2009 due to a back injury suffered in college. While at NBC, Walton was often paired with analyst and former Trail Blazer teammate, Steve “Snapper” Jones who passed away last November at the age of 75.
Walton has been back with ESPN since 2012 covering the Pac-12 which doesn’t require as much travel as when he regularly did NBA games. He was grateful and excited about the opportunity to join Pasch and Burke for Wednesday night’s NBA broadcast.
“It was fantastic. The guys could not have been nicer,” Walton said. “They have to do this every day. But they could not have been more accommodating from top to bottom with the entire franchise. This is their job, but they are inspirational and incredibly rewarding. I learned a lot. But that’s why they’re the standard of excellence in today’s NBA, from the top to everybody.”
NBA fans weren’t the only ones excited to hear Walton back on an NBA broadcast, “Behind the mic, whether you love him or hate him or whether you want to go into that wild journey he always takes you when he’s calling the games,” Warriors guard Stephen Curry said, “it’s always fun.”
“He’s obviously a little nuts in a really good way,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said with a smile. “He has a really good outlook on life. He has a lot of spirit and a lot of joy. He’s fun to be around.”
Kentucky Derby Rebounds With 16 Million Viewers
“The Derby saw its best numbers since 2019 on Saturday. The audience peaked at 19 million.”
The Kentucky Derby has now eclipsed 15 million viewers in each of the last eight years that the event was not effected by the Covid-19 Pandemic. An average audience of 16 million tuned in Saturday to see longshot Rich Strike win the first leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown.
The Derby saw its best numbers since 2019 on Saturday. The audience peaked at 19 million.
During the weekend, the event kept finding new life on social media. According to an NBC Sports press release, the overhead shot of the final call drew big audiences across a number of the network’s digital platforms, having been viewed in total more than 36 million times.
Peacock also cashed in on the event’s success. The streaming platform posted an average minute audience of over 247,000 viewers during the Kentucky Derby.
ESPN Releases Details For Joe Buck’s PGA Championship Broadcast
“Michael Collins will serve as Buck’s co-host.”
Omaha Productions and ESPN are getting ready for the PGA Championship. News broke last week that Joe Buck would make his ESPN debut at the center of alternative coverage of the event. Now the network is sharing a few details of the broadcast.
Michael Collins will serve as Buck’s co-host. ESPN’s senior golf analyst will bring the perspective of a former caddie to the broadcast as well as the humor of a former comedian.
The duo will welcome plenty of guests too. The lineup suggests that while the broadcast will be built around golf, the conversations could go anywhere. Troy Aikman, Josh Allen, Charles Barkley, Doris Burke, Fred Couples, Jon Hamm, and Peyton & Eli Manning are all scheduled to make appearances.
“We loved doing Monday Night Football with ESPN and the entire Omaha team has been looking forward to producing alternate telecasts that celebrate other sports,” Peyton Manning said in a press release. “As one of golf’s majors, the PGA Championship is a perfect place to do our first one for golf and we look forward to working with Joe, Michael and everyone in ESPN’s golf team.”
Joe Buck and Michael Collins will be on TV for all four days of the PGA Championship. They will be on for four hours each day. The broadcast will alternate between ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN+ depending on where the traditional coverage of the event is airing.
The PGA Championship with Joe Buck & Michael Collins is the latest offering from ESPN’s deal with Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions. The company has also committed to produce alternate coverage of MMA and college football broadcasts in the future.
Tom Brady Lands Massive Deal To Join FOX At End Of Career
“Whether or not Tom Brady is great on TV remains to be seen. What is certain is that the network just added star power that is unmatched amongst other networks that carry NFL games.”
Tom Brady won’t be in the booth this season for FOX, but he will be there eventually. The network’s PR account tweeted that as soon as Brady is ready to call it a career, he will join Kevin Burkhardt to call the biggest game on the network’s slate each week.
“We are delighted that Tom has committed to joining the Fox team and wish him all the best during this upcoming season,” FOX CEO Lachlan Murdoch said in a statement.
FOX has made no secret of its desire to bring Brady aboard. The network has been courting him ever since he announced his retirement in February. The desire to pair him with Burkhardt was first reported in March by Andrew Marchand of The New York Post.
This news raises questions about the future for a lot of the parties involved. First, who will be Burkhardt’s partner this season? Tom Brady has committed to play for the Buccaneers. Next, what does this mean for the quarterback’s future? Does this guarantee that 2022 will be his final season in the NFL? Finally, what now for Greg Olsen? He had been Burkhardt’s partner last season and has expressed interest in continuing to work together.
All of those answers will be addressed in time. Right now, FOX is busy celebrating.
Whether or not Tom Brady is great on TV remains to be seen. What is certain is that the network just added star power that is unmatched amongst other networks that carry NFL games.
But adding Brady is going to cost them too.
Andrew Marchand of The New York Post has a full salary breakdown for Brady. The Bucs QB will get $375 million over the course of ten years. Troy Aikman and Joe Buck, FOX’s former top NFL play-by-play team, will make a combined $33 million per year at ESPN. Brady’s annual salary will top that number on its own.
FOX’s deal with Brady is similar to the one NBC made with Drew Brees before his final season in New Orleans. It allowed the quarterback one more season, and promised him a nice landing spot in the media when his playing days are done. We will have to wait and see whether or not FOX will end up waiting longer than the one season NBC did.