The hosts of First Take are no fans of Milwaukee, and it seems the feeling is mutual. On Wednesday morning, Stephen A. Smith answered “hell no!” when asked if he was looking forward to go to the Cream City for the NBA Finals. By the afternoon, a petition had been launched to ban the show from the city.
Host Molly Qerim then piled on. She said that the last time she did not go to the Super Bowl was the year it was played in Minneapolis. Now she doesn’t believe she and Max Kellerman are headed to the NBA Finals and declared that both events she missed were in “terrible cities”.
“I don’t believe either of them will win their series, but I have never been rooting harder for Atlanta and the Los Angeles Clippers in my life,” Smith said.
Clearly Querim and Smith have never seen Wayne’s World. Otherwise they would know that Milwaukee has certainly had its share of visitors. The natives called it “mee-lee-wah-kay,” which is of course Algonquin for “The Good Land.” It’s not a nickname a city earns by accident.
Jen, Gabe and Chewy welcomed one of the offending parties to their show on ESPN Milwaukee on Wednesday morning. Stephen A. Smith didn’t change his mind over being excited to see the city, but he did note that he expects Bucks fans to be very happy.
“I think there’s a better than 60% possibility that the Milwaukee Bucks will win the championship at this stage and point,” he said before adding “I don’t believe there’s anyway in hell you win that series if Kyrie Irving hadn’t twisted his ankle.”
Also dropping by for a conversation was Smith’s partner Max Kellerman. Unlike Qerim and Smith, Kellerman said he had no issues with the city. When Lada asked if there was a reluctance from the national media to embrace the Bucks, Kellerman said yes but not because Milwaukee isn’t a Cosmopolitan city. It’s more due to the team’s ownership group, which features a couple of New York City hedge fund guys, becoming cheap after they acquired the franchise. Kellerman added that the team’s ability to win a championship depends more on other teams having star players injured and catching them at the right time, rather than the Bucks being the best team.
With Bucks fever sweeping across the city, ESPN Milwaukee has increased playoff programming to capture the excitement. The station announced today the launch of ‘Bucks at 6’, a show featuring former Bucks player Tony Smith and former Wisconsin basketball player and ESPN Madison host Ben Brust.
NBC Sports Announces Matthew Berry Hire, Will Debut Tonight on Football Night in America
This is truly a full circle moment for me,” said Berry, who served as a fantasy football expert at NBC Sports’ Rotoworld from 1999-2004.
NBC Sports has announced the official hiring of fantasy specialist Matthew Berry. He has agreed to a multi-year deal and will be featured on Peacock, NBC and NBC Sports digital platforms.
The network also announced that Berry will join Football Night in America each week during the NFL season on NBC and Peacock including with his debut tonight leading into the 2022 Hall of Fame Game.
Berry will host a weekly game-day fantasy football and sports betting show on Sundays from 11a-1p ET on Peacock and NBC Sports digital platforms. He will also create a one-hour daily podcast for Peacock, live-listening on NBC Sports Audio and SiriusXM and be available as a downloadable podcast.
“We welcome Matthew to the team and are excited to incorporate into our coverage the compelling and industry-shaping commentary that has made him the face of fantasy football for millions of fans,” said Sam Flood, NBC Sports Production Executive Producer & President.
“This is truly a full circle moment for me,” said Berry, who served as a fantasy football expert at NBC Sports’ Rotoworld from 1999-2004. “I started my career at Rotoworld, spent many years there, and not many people are lucky enough to get the chance to come home. I’ve spent my entire life talking fantasy football to anyone that would listen. So when I was offered the chance to join the highest-rated studio show in all of sports, I couldn’t say yes fast enough.”
Berry also added, “Please remind me of this quote the next time I realize millions of people just saw me get a prediction wrong. In the meantime, know that I am incredibly honored and humbled by the opportunity not just to join the FNIA family but also to help build something special on Peacock.”
Berry will provide analysis and content around major NBC Sports events outside of football, including the Kentucky Derby, Indy 500, and more.
Omaha Productions Building College Football Simulcast Around Pat McAfee
“Manning joked that the network doesn’t want McAfee. It wants Omaha Productions and Omaha wants McAfee.”
ESPN is bringing its alternate broadcast strategy to college football. Peyton Manning appeared on The Pat McAfee Show Thursday to announce that McAfee and his crew would anchor six alternate broadcasts of major games for Omaha Productions on Saturday nights this season.
“We have officially agreed, alongside Omaha Productions, to simulcast six big-ass college football games this season,” McAfee said. “We will be on ESPN2. The main cast will be on ESPN. Omaha is obviously helping us along the way and we will be running it.”
McAfee said that when he was first approached by Manning he expressed shock that ESPN wanted him on the air. Manning joked that the network doesn’t want McAfee. It wants Omaha Productions and Omaha wants McAfee.
The shows have not yet been scheduled. Most games in college football’s power 5 conferences are not scheduled until the prior week. With the AP Top 25 and CFP Top 25 both changing regularly, they too will play a role in determining what goes into the primetime slot.
Pat McAfee and his crew will be live in their Indianapolis studio. The former punter at the West Virginia University said that the majority of people appearing on the alternate broadcast each week would be in studio, but there would be occasional guests.
“There’s gonna be give aways. There’s gonna be a lot of action I think during this,” he added.
Omaha Productions adds college football to the NFL and the US Open on its roster of alternate broadcasts. The company is also working on a future MMA alternate broadcast.
“I’m honored to be your teammate again, if you will,” Peyton Manning said in response to McAfee thanking him for the platform and opportunity. “You will kill this. You know this. Everybody is fired up to watch. I guarantee it!”
ESPN Announces Bill Walton ’30 for 30′ Documentary
The Basketball Hall of Famer is viewed as one of the more eccentric figures in sports history.
ESPN Films announced Thursday that production has begun on a new 30 for 30 documentary focused on Bill Walton.
The Basketball Hall of Famer is viewed as one of the more eccentric figures in sports history. Combined with his basketball prowess in both college and the NBA, and his love of The Grateful Dead, politics and activism, Walton is often a divisive figure in the sports broadcast world.
ESPN says Larry Bird, Julius Erving, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Artis Gilmore, World B. Free, Robert Parish, Jim Gray, Luke Walton, Jamal Wilkes, Brent Musberger, and Bob Ryan have all been interview subjects for the story.
The documentary will be directed by Steve James, who also directed Hoop Dreams, as well as Abacus: Small Enough to Jail.
No release date was revealed by ESPN. Walton has worked as a college basketball color commentator for the network since 2012. He had previously worked on ESPN’s NBA coverage from 2002-2009.