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NBA Sets Christmas Day Schedule For ESPN, ABC

The NBA announced the five games set for Christmas Day 2021 on ABC and ESPN, headlined by Nets-Lakers in primetime.

MIchael Quirk

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The NBA has slowly become a year-round league. What was once on the brink of national irrelevancy due to PR issues 40 years ago is now one that is part of more households than America’s Pastime, Major League Baseball. The draft, free agency, trade rumors, the trade deadline, and well, the season itself all seem to dominate the news stream in one long sequence throughout the calendar year.

On Tuesday, the NBA and ESPN jointly announced their Christmas Day slate of games, five one after the other from noon EST to after midnight.

The Hawks and Knicks kick off the day as part of a rematch of their first round bout this past season that saw the Hawks win in five games. Then, the reigning champion Bucks host the always-popular Celtics. That is followed by Steph Curry and the Warriors taking on the defending Western Conference champion Suns.

The primetime game sees Lebron James and the Lakers hosting Kevin Durant, James Harden, Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets. If 10-and-a-half hours of basketball is not enough, the final game of the night will pair Gen Z sensation Luka Doncic against Donovan Mitchell and the Jazz.

The NFL has monopolized Thanksgiving while MLB has always had a stranglehold of Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. The NBA has taken hold of Christmas. With no college bowl games and the NFL’s schedule rarely allowing for games on the holiday, basketball has become the sports tradition across the country in many households.

Sports TV News

Kay Adams: Pat McAfee Has Built ‘The Dream’

“it’s interesting because he’s built himself to such a place that he does not need anyone and that is the dream.”

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Many in sports media have respect for former NFL punter Pat McAfee for what he has accomplished in his media endeavors, and you can add FanDuel TV host Kay Adams to that list.

“I’m just blown away by the success and by the leverage he has,” Adams said on the My Other Passion podcast. “It is uncanny, it is aspirational, and it is self-made, so it is a beautiful thing. I — of course — watch what he does. I don’t want to be just like him but I do think he is so disruptive.

“He has such a chip on his shoulder. It drives him but I almost wish I could see it relieved a little bit. He’s thriving, he’s happy, and I think the thing that sticks out to me about him is that he’s truly grateful. Truly is grateful for everything he has, his opportunities. He’s worked his ass off for it.”

Adams pointed to McAfee’s recent spat with the NFL over use of the league’s logos as an indicator of not only his success but his influence in the sports landscape.

“He is true to himself but he mostly leads with gratitude, which I think is the epitome of success. But he’s out there show you what can be done. He’s the first, but will he be the last to have that sort of platform? That sort of swing? What he does with the NFL the other week, I’m paying attention to that.

“Because I wanna see: is the NFL gonna bend the knee to Pat McAfee? Does the NFL care what he says? But it’s interesting because he’s built himself to such a place that he does not need anyone and that is the dream.”

The NFL did eventually “bend the knee” and reversed course on limiting McAfee’s use of league trademarks.

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Sports TV News

John Skipper: Bob Iger’s Return Won’t Effect ESPN

“If you’re going to win the streaming wars, you’re going to have to have sports.”

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There have been many questions about what Bob Iger’s return to Disney will mean for ESPN, but former ESPN President John Skipper believes it won’t change much.

Skipper pointed to Iger’s relationships with powerbrokers in the sports world as a positive, and also believes that the “streaming wars” will be won by those who hold the rights to live sports.

“As a moat, to get the pay-TV fees and to get people to pay more money to subscribe,” Skipper pointed to Sportico as the reason for ESPN to still have an agreement with the NBA for linear TV. He later added “If you’re going to win the streaming wars, you’re going to have to have sports.”

Skipper also said the network used to invest in constant studio programming but said that’s no longer a necessity.

“We did that type of programming because the economics were different at the time,” Skipper said.

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Sports TV News

Warner Bros. Discovery Sports President Departs

“His enthusiasm and light-hearted demeanor are among his most endearing qualities, and they will be missed.”

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Lenny Daniels is leaving Warner Bros. Discovery after 27 years with the company.

Daniels is the President of the company’s sports division in the United States, overseeing the contracts and strategic vision for the organization.

In a memo sent to staff obtained by Sports Business Journal, CEO Luis Silberwasser said “While this change will take place right away, Lenny has agreed to work with me to ensure a smooth transition.” He also added “I have enjoyed working with Lenny during these past few months and I respect his decision. Lenny has never been one to place a spotlight on himself; he’s always been quick to shine it on those around him. His enthusiasm and light-hearted demeanor are among his most endearing qualities, and they will be missed.”

The departure by Daniels coincides with a round of layoffs by the company and also the beginning of long-term agreements with the NHL and MLB. The network is also about to embark on negotiations with the NBA for its next media rights deal, with Warner Bros. Discovery CEO and President David Zaslav recently saying “we don’t have to have the NBA“.

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