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Ryen Russillo: Media Will ‘Move The Goal Posts’ on Nikola Jokić When Denver Wins

“We all get it – we all have to figure out new ways to say stuff, but sometimes you’re just speechless.”

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Courtesy: Joe Faraoni, ESPN

Nikola Jokić, better known to NBA fans as “the “Joker,” and the Denver Nuggets are two wins away from securing the franchise’s first ever NBA championship. The team has been at the center of debate across major sports networks over the last several weeks. Those in and around Denver believe the team has not received enough attention to this point, especially when having Jokić, a two-time league MVP and five-time All-Star selection. Now that the entire country is being exposed to the generational talent, along with venerable teammates Jamal Murray, Aaron Gordon and Michael Porter Jr., the Nuggets are gaining notoriety many argue their play should have merited long ago.

Yet the fact that Denver is far from other major locales, along with the fact that the team has never previously won a championship, has ostensibly penalized the organization in terms of garnering coverage.

“I’m not going to name names on this one, but it was a colleague who said something [like], ‘I’m speechless after somebody did something amazing,’” recalled Ryen Russillo, podcast host and commentator for The Ringer. “And then another colleague [said], ‘It’s your job to not be speechless,’ and I thought, ‘Woah.’ That back-and-forth made the rounds. We all get it – we all have to figure out new ways to say stuff, but sometimes you’re just speechless.”

There are implicit rules to effective sports television according to Russillo, especially debate shows. One is to stick to what works and to talk about players who will move the needle. The most recent example that draws parallels to Jokić is with Giannis Antetokounmpo, and how he rapidly gained legitimacy and plaudits when he led the Milwaukee Bucks to an NBA championship in 2021.

“If Denver ends up winning this thing, which I’d expect they will, all of a sudden the rules change,” Russillo said, “and we’re allowed to talk about [Jokić] in the way we always should have talked about him.”

Russillo previously hosted radio shows for ESPN. He and former NFL quarterback Danny Kannel hosted the Russillo Show together, but ended his time at ESPN hosting solo when Kannel was laid off. While he returned to the “Worldwide Leader” and ultimately co-hosted the SVP & Russillo podcast with Scott Van Pelt, he departed the company in August 2019 to join The Ringer. Russillo made remarks about his time with the company on a recent appearance with Bryan Curtis on The Press Box podcast.

“Especially when I worked at ESPN, I think half the time I was on the phone with NBA teams, it would be to hear them bitch about somebody else that said something at ESPN,” Russillo shared. “I’d remind them; I’d go, ‘Just so you know, I work with a lot of these people, and it’s hard to watch everything. I try to watch everything and it’s really hard. Just remember that not everybody up there that’s on TV is watching nearly as much [as] they may think they are.”

Both Russillo and Curtis know that if the Denver Nuggets are to win the NBA Finals, it will represent a “coronation” for Jokić to become a regular part of the vernacular. Russillo believes he will be legitimately considered as the best all-around player in the NBA, but stopping there will never be enough for shows based on attracting an audience.

“It’ll be, ‘Does he have a chance to be this?,’” Russillo surmised. “We move the goalposts on players… [and] you have to raise the stakes. Once everything becomes accepted, ‘accepted’ isn’t a good topic anymore. It has to be, ‘Could there potentially be pushback from this?,’ and that’s kind of the game.”

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Dan Le Batard: Will the ‘TikTok Generation’ Understand Significance of a Baseball Radio Broadcaster?

“The baseball schedule is an insanity, and John Sterling is a bonafide legend when you broadcast that long, but it’s not in the perfectly pristine broadcasting case where Vin Scully exists.”

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Dan Le Batard

The New York Yankees announced on Monday afternoon that longtime radio play-by-play announcer John Sterling is retiring effective immediately, ending his 36-year tenure calling games for the club. Sterling is widely regarded as having left an indelible legacy on Major League Baseball, coming on the air with his sonorous tenor and creative home run calls. Dan Le Batard took time out of the Tuesday edition of his program – The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz – to honor Sterling and his six-decade career working in sports media, explaining to his audience why Sterling is of such grandeur and significance within the sport.

Le Batard emphasized that Sterling is not retiring because of his health; rather, he is simply tired and does not wish to handle the heavy workload associated with the 162-game slate. Sterling leaves amid a season where the Yankees lead MLB in wins, albeit early in the 2024 regular-season campaign, and are projected to be competing for a World Series championships. Sterling was behind the microphone for six Yankees World Series championships and called 5,060 consecutive games, including every at bat in Derek Jeter’s Hall of Fame career.

“The baseball schedule is an insanity, and John Sterling is a bonafide legend when you broadcast that long, but it’s not in the perfectly pristine broadcasting case where Vin Scully exists,” Le Batard said. “From a bygone age – Ernie Harwell, old-time broadcaster who raises your dad, your grandad and you on baseball on the radio when America; when people wore top hats to the game and suits because baseball is our most historic sport – Vin Scully dies, and he takes that with him. John Sterling retires at the beginning of a Yankees season when they’re in first place.”

Within his remarks, Le Batard conveyed that Sterling should be celebrated as a legend who was broadcasting “for a time, a place and a team.” After the show played several of his broadcasting highlights and mistakes from over the years in addition to a clip of him being struck by a foul ball while on the air, Le Batard began to outline the changing times within the sports media industry by asking a question to his colleagues.

“Do you think the TikTok generation is going to have any understanding of a radio broadcaster mattering to a region on behalf of a team?,” Le Batard said. “This ends with this crop of broadcasters, right, where somebody is handed down – that the sport is handed down to you as a child from a parent or grandparent who was also listening to this person locally in the car as you grew up. That dies with this crop of broadcasters, right?”

As Le Batard explained his point, he underscored that he is not trying to insinuate that Sterling was the last broadcaster considered among the generation who can have that kind of an impact. Instead, he believes that there is never going to be anything like radio broadcasters in Major League Baseball because of the specific connection that has been created and maintained through radio across generations. Verne Lundquist, he stated, received a nice sendoff from The Masters over the weekend, something that most broadcasters will not get. Yet he understands that when you say the names of John Sterling or Verne Lundquist, it means something to the audience.

Jon “Stugotz” Weiner stated that Bob Uecker is still on the air for the Milwaukee Brewers, but Le Batard seems not to believe that people are going to be listening to games on the radio going forward. As a result of the multifarious content ecosystem through which sports are consumed, Le Batard is not sure if radio broadcasters will resonate with the next generation as they had in the preceding years.

“[John Sterling] is somebody who has existed in the traveling circus of the baseball economy going from place to place to broadcast on radio something to people back home who cannot see it,” Le Batard said. “That voice gets ingrained in a region, a people, gets passed down to families, and what I’m asking you is does it die now because it’s a very specific thing.”

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Report: Scott Van Pelt to Relaunch ‘SVPod’ with Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions

This news comes on the heels of ESPN and Omaha Productions announcing a nine-year, multi-platform rights extension through 2034.

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Graphic for the SVPod and logos for ESPN and Omaha Productions

ESPN anchor Scott Van Pelt is bringing his ‘SVPod’ podcast back after nine months off. According to Front Office Sports’ Michael McCarthy, Van Pelt has partnered with Peyton Manning and Omaha Productions and along with show co-host ‘Stanford’ Steve Coughlin, they will dop two shows per week. McCarthy also reports that as part of the deal, ESPN will air the video version of the show on their YouTube page.

This news comes on the heels of ESPN and Omaha Productions announcing a nine-year, multi-platform rights extension through 2034. As part of the deal, Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli will continue, which recently attained an average of 1.24 million viewers over its nine-game slate.

The series, which has been on the air for the last three seasons, features former NFL quarterbacks and Super Bowl champions Peyton and Eli Manning who break down the game and welcome several special guests.

Van Pelt’s ‘SVPod’ debuted on January 14, 2020. At that time, Van Pelt was looking for more time to expound on various topics or have longer interviews with topical guests.

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Yahoo Sports Adds Olympic Gold Medalist Shawn Johnson East as Correspondent

“I’m excited to watch the world’s best athletes compete on the biggest stage and take fans behind the scenes along the way.”

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Photos of Shawn Johnson East
Courtesy: Brand-Innovators.com and Getty Images

Yahoo Sports announced is adding Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson East as a correspondent for this summer’s games in Paris. Johnson East will be in France to deliver coverage of the gymnastics competition as well as additional moments such as the Opening Ceremony.

She’ll contribute analysis, athlete interviews, and features that bring fans closer to the games’ biggest stories. She’ll also provide reaction to the gymnastics U.S. Olympic Team Trials in June. Johnson East’s coverage will be available across Yahoo Sports platforms and via her social channels. 

“It’s such an honor to be able to return to the Olympics in 2024 with my family for the first time to be an official correspondent for Yahoo Sports,” Johnson East said. “I’m excited to watch the world’s best athletes compete on the biggest stage and take fans behind the scenes along the way.”

Johnson East won a gold medal in the 2008 Olympic balance beam event. She won silver in the team, all-around, and floor exercise events. After retiring from gymnastics in 2012, Shawn has gone on to write a New York Times best-selling book, win Dancing with the Stars, and start a YouTube channel with more than 405 million views and a popular podcast with her husband, Andrew.

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