TNT aired a special edition of Inside the NBA on Wednesday evening in response to players boycotting Wednesday’s playoff games to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.
“Today players and coaches made a resounding and unified statement by refusing to take the court,” host Ernie Johnson Jr. said. “There are moments that have happened during my 30 years in this chair: Magic’s announcement in ‘91, Adam Silver addressing the Donald Sterling situation in 2014, banning him for life, and then today. There is no podium involved, just simply we are not going to take the floor.”
Charles Barkley says he is not surprised by the decision not to play.
“You heard guys talking about it (not playing) yesterday. That started the fire,” Barkley said. “Then the Milwaukee Bucks, who were scheduled to lead off today, cancelled. If the Bucks hadn’t cancelled, I don’t think anybody else would have cancelled. They should have given the Magic a heads up, but I do think it was appropriate that the Bucks did it because it happened in their home state. I think after that, you had to cancel the rest of the games. I think you need to cancel the games tomorrow also just so the different set of teams can let them know that they are standing with them. My question is what the game plan is after that?”
An emotional Kenny “the Jet” Smith said he had a difficult time processing his thoughts over the incident before abruptly leaving the set.
“I feel like my head is ready to explode,” Smith said. “I don’t think I can say anything that is appropriate for what players are thinking and feeling. As a Black man and a former player I feel it is important to support the players and not be here tonight.”
Shaquille O’Neal adds that a unified stance among the players was key.
“If everybody wasn’t unified, we would be talking about something not nearly as important (who played and who did not play) instead of the real issue,” he said. “I respect the decision. I respect the guys and how everybody deals with certain things differently. African-Americans are fed up and something has to change.”
Shaq then broaches the subject of boycotting the rest of the season.
“I’ll support whatever the players decide to do. Right now the games are just postponed,” he said. “Something like this is going to happen next week, next month and next year. Canceling one game is not going to make a racist person say, ‘oh, they canceled one game. I’m not going to be racist anymore.’ We have to identify certain areas and certain problems and we have to systematically take these things down.”
O’Neal adds that a good way to begin that process is to vote in the upcoming election.
“Make sure you get a new D.A. (District Attorney). Make sure you get a new Chief of Police. Make sure you get a new mayor and make sure you get a new president. It’s in our hands. We need to put people in place that understand our language and frustrations. That would be a good place to start.”
Former NBA player and TNT analyst Chris Webber joined the show from the arena in Orlando. His emotional reaction to the moment and the police shooting of another unarmed black man garnered a lot of attention and reaction across the media.
Wiping sweat from his brow and tears from his eyes, Webber said that he wanted to speak about the night, “because I feel like we always have the same couple voices talking during these times.”
“I keep hearing the question ‘What’s next?, What’s next?’. Well, you gotta plan what’s next. You have to figure out what’s next,” Webber continued. “Very proud of the players. I don’t know the next steps. Don’t really care what the next steps are, because the first steps are to garner attention, and they have everybody’s attention around the world right now. Then leadership and others will get together and decide the next steps.”
Webber said that he wanted to speak for the people in the neighborhoods “that we tell to vote and then just walk away.” He then spoke about conversations he has had to have with younger family members and asked “if not now when?” in reference to the need for police reform.
The powerful message, which ended with Webber praising young people for boycotting games and crying out for change, earned praise for the five-time all-star from the media, former teammates, and current players.
ESPN Reportedly Leaving Seaport Studios in New York, Possible Move in LA too
“The South Street Seaport studios have been open since 2018. It is currently home to Get Up, First Take, Around the Horn, and NBA Countdown.”
ESPN is making some changes in New York. Puck News reports that the famous Seaport Studio will be empty soon as the network relocates its New York City operations to Hudson Square.
The South Street Seaport studios have been open since 2018. It is currently home to Get Up, First Take, Around the Horn, and NBA Countdown. In the past, it hosted High Noon and Sunday NFL Countdown as well.
The Walt Disney Company owns the property where the new studios will be housed. Puck reports the relocation is likely to happen “no later than fiscal 2025.”
The Puck report also states that ESPN could be on the move in Los Angeles too. On the West Coast, the network currently is housed in LA Live, outside of Crypto.com Arena. No details were offered on those plans.
John Skipper: ‘Hollywood Strikes Will Not Impact NBA Media Rights Negotiations’
“He is going to get a very big increase.”
Media rights for national television packages for the National Basketball Association are set to expire following the 2024-25 season, with negotiations expected to begin in the new year, which could occur amid Hollywood strikes. The NBA’s exclusive negotiating 45-day window with its current rights holders – The Walt Disney Company (ABC/ESPN) and Warner Bros. Discovery (TNT/TBS/NBA TV) – opens on March 9, 2024 before the rights can be taken to the open market.
Numerous sports media entities have reported interest in the league, including Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV and NBC Sports as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver could look to triple the aggregate fee for games. The league is in the midst of a nine-year deal worth a collective $23.4 billion with the two broadcast entities and has positioned itself for an increase through a new In-Season Tournament, rules regulating load management and additional media incentives.
Linear platforms, combined with sports talk radio and digital outlets have burgeoned coverage of the league to new heights. Superstars such as LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Giannis Antetokounmpo regularly dominate sports conversation in various locales, and the Association has embedded itself in the culture both domestically and abroad. The NBA is expanding globally, holding several international contests each year and marketing its teams, players and personnel in new ways, leveraging its position as the predominant basketball product for augmented fees.
While there seems to be an end in sight for the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) after almost 150 days out of work, companies making bids for the Association project the holdout to stymie certain revenue streams. Warner Bros. Discovery could take a hit between $300 million and $500 million, while The Walt Disney Company shares dropped a collective 14% amid losses of more than $4 million per day.
“This will have zero impact – the strike – on what the NBA gets paid for their rights,” Meadowlark Media co-founder and CEO John Skipper opined on Skipper & Samson. Skipper was part of negotiating the current deal and sees the value the league has in that there are more people interested in broadcasting the games than there are game packages themselves. Because of this, the NBA should have leverage in its negotiations with both traditional and digital outlets.
Conversely, former baseball executive David Samson affirmed that the Hollywood strikes will likely have an impact on negotiations because of the power it grants legacy media in negotiations. Zaslav, as surmised by Samson, will use these strikes as an excuse to justify a diminished fee increase, something he feels will be countered by the NBA with the question of why the company inked its Inside the NBA commentators to 10-year extensions.
“He’ll say back, ‘Well actually, we’ll repurpose them the way we’ve already started to repurpose Barkley,’” Samson articulated. “So I think that the strike actually gives leverage to Warner Bros. Discovery in its negotiation with the NBA.”
David Zaslav, the chief executive officer of Warner Bros. Discovery publicly stated that the entity will not overpay for the NBA and said it does not need the property. Negotiating through the media is a bad idea, according to Skipper, who was previously involved in these negotiations while serving as the president of ESPN. He came to that conclusion after ESPN lost the rights to the National Hockey League after the 2004-05 lockout, a property it did not reacquire until the 2021-22 season.
“In this industry, I never found it anything but deleterious to my discussions with the leagues if I said anything publicly other than, ‘We love this league; we want to renew our rights,’ which we said all the time,” expressed Skipper. “I even said it when I didn’t love the league and didn’t want the rights because, as you know, the second-best outcome of any negotiation is that somebody else pays way more money than they think they have to [in order] to get rights.”
Since the demand outweighs the supply, Skipper does not think that anything going on in the world of entertainment and late night television will affect how much networks will end up paying for the NBA. The league will continue to have every intention of proliferating its earnings derived from media rights, and he thinks it will be successful in its quest to do so.
“He is going to get a very big increase,” Skipper said, referring to Commissioner Silver, “and the writers’ strike is not going to have any effect on that increase, in my opinion.”
Jamie Erdahl: Being a Sideline Reporter ‘is Not About You’
“My job is to set Nick Saban up in a way to give the best answer possible, frankly, in saying the least amount of things as possible, in my opinion.”
Jamie Erdahl shines brightly each morning on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football. She is a guest this week on the Front Office Sports Today podcast and told Michael McCarthy that her basketball career at St. Olaf College helped prepare her for her role in broadcasting.
McCarthy described her role on GMFB as “a point guard.” Erdahl said the comparison is apt, because any good point guard has to know what will make their team succeed.
“I like when other people look their best and sound their best and feel like they are in the best spot to be their best version on television,” she said.
Erdahl added that she also learned a lot from her years working for CBS. She was a sideline reporter for the network’s NFL broadcasts as well as the weekly SEC on CBS game. She said the role taught her to be selfless on television.
“Being a sideline reporter, it is not about you,” she said. “You are telling somebody else’s story. My job is to set Nick Saban up in a way to give the best answer possible, frankly, in saying the least amount of things as possible, in my opinion. I think the best questions sometimes are the quickest.”
She added that learning what your colleagues need also matters. She noted that how she poses a question to each of her GMFB co-stars is different because she wants each of them at their most comfortable.