The NBA Play-In Tournament got rolling on TNT Tuesday night, but not every member of the “Inside The NBA” crew got the memo. Shaquille O’Neal slipped into his offseason schedule and showed up late to the broadcast for the second time in the past year.
O’Neal was missing from the set when the crew opened pregame festivities before the Indiana Pacers blowout victory over the Charlotte Hornets. Shaq played along and said he misread the schedule, but Charles Barkley wasn’t having it.
“What kind of dummy misses the first night of the playoffs?” Barkley asked while Kenny Smith attempted to FaceTime Shaq about his whereabouts. When Shaq did show up, it was noticeable.
“You can’t be that big and sneak,” Barkley added.
“I apologize. I read my schedule wrong. I thought it said 6:30,” Shaq lobbied.
O’Neal had a scheduling mishap during last year’s NBA coverage as well. The legendary NBA center showed up late to the first night of games after the pandemic-induced layoff. O’Neal is famous for trying out different professions, but anything to do with stealth doesn’t seem to be up his alley.
Smith made sure to point out O’Neal’s interesting wardrobe decisions.
“I watched you the other night, your gear has actually picked up. Your whole wardrobe… That is not what you meant to wear tonight! You look like a sailor who just realized that there was a dinner!” Smith said to O’Neal.
The Turner crew rolled with punches both times to make lemonade out of lemons. Shaq and Co. will be back in action on Thursday night for the final Eastern Conference Play-In game between the Pacers and Wizards. TNT has complete coverage of the Western Conference playoffs over the next few months before ABC closes the NBA season with the 2021 NBA Finals.
Russ Heltman is a daily news writer for BSM. He is the morning host and producer for 89.3 WMKV in Cincinnati, OH. He also works in gameday communications for FC Cincinnati and additionally contributes to the AllBengals blog for Sports Illustrated. Russ can be found on Twitter @RussHeltman11 or you can reach him by email at Heltmandm@yahoo.com.
ESPN Could Still Land Some Big Ten Media Rights
“We’ll continue to be good partners with them in a slightly different way than we have.”
The Big Ten announced the conference’s newest slate of media rights deals on Thursday. The conference confirmed it has partnered with NBC, CBS and FOX for the next seven years. The one glaring outsider is ESPN. However, even though the two may have parted ways after this current media rights deal has expired, there may still be a way to see Big Ten products on ESPN.
In an article from Pat Forde from Sports Illustrated, sources indicate to him the network may still be able to ink an agreement to carry Big Ten contests as a sublicensee. He notes the most likely sport that would happen in is men’s basketball.
“We have one more year with them,” Warren said of ESPN and the 2022–23 season. “They’re professionals, we’re professionals, and we’ve had a close relationship with them for a long time.”
“I don’t think we expect this will be the end of the relationship. We’ll continue to be good partners with them in a slightly different way than we have.”
Roxy Bernstein: ‘Bill Walton’s Persona Is An Entertaining Act’
“But Bill, I think this is good simulation for him.”
One of the enduring broadcast themes of college basketball season is Bill Walton’s calling Pac-12 games and doing so with a but of an untethered flare. Roxy Bernstein, one of Walton’s broadcast partners, says it’s a deliberate attempt to be interesting.
“I think people see this caricature on television,” Bernstein said. “Let me clue you in on a secret and pull back the curtain here: it’s an act.”
Bernstein made these comments as a guest on Announcer Schedules the Podcast. He talked about Walton’s style being one that suits him to satisfy his own happiness.
“If he wanted to be a cookie-cutter analyst, he’s done that. He could do it,” commented Bernstein. “But Bill, I think this is good simulation for him. His ability to inform the audience and make it a well-rounded broadcast, to culture the audience so there’s just laser-focused in on this game.”
Bernstein also noted that when you see Walton and his play-by-play partner for the first time on television, it’s often the first time they are speaking to each other.
“He never opens the door to what is going to happen that night,” said Bernstein. “Essentially the first conversation of that day that we are having is, ‘Hi, welcome to Pauley Pavilion. Along with the Hall of Famer Bill Walton, I’m Roxy Bernstein’. That’s the first time we are really talking all day.”
Michael Grady Named Play-By-Play Announcer of the Minnesota Timberwolves
“Today is a thrilling day for myself and my family as this has been my lifelong dream to be an NBA play-by-play announcer,” said Grady.
The Minnesota Timberwolves, in partnership with Bally Sports North, named Michael Grady as their new television play-by-play announcer.
Grady, 39, will partner with color analyst Jim Petersen.
“Michael’s extensive knowledge of the game and his genuine on-air style make him the perfect fit for this role,” said Timberwolves & Lynx Chief Executive Officer Ethan Casson. “As Michael returns to his Midwest roots, we couldn’t be more excited to have his voice on the call for Timberwolves games for seasons to come.”
Grady spent the last six years with the YES Network as the Brooklyn Nets courtside reporter. He does have previous NBA television play-by-play experience including work with the New York Liberty, Turner Sports, NBATV and the 2022 WNBA Commissioners Cup. He also sas called play-by-play for college basketball and college football games for CBS.
“Today is a thrilling day for myself and my family as this has been my lifelong dream to be an NBA play-by-play announcer,” said Grady. “I can’t wait to join Jim Petersen and the rest of the Bally Sports North crew calling games for this exciting franchise. I also look forward to interacting with our phenomenal Timberwolves fans and partners in the community to continue to tell the stories of this great basketball state.”
“Michael’s unique background and basketball acumen will serve him well in his new role,” said Executive Producer for Bally Sports North Tony Tortorici. “Fans will enjoy his smooth delivery for this exciting new era of Timberwolves basketball and he will be a great compliment to longtime Timberwolves analyst Jim Petersen.”