The NBA gimmick continues with the ESPN-TNT broadcaster switch

When in doubt, confuse them.

That’s Adam Silver’s mantra with the NBA In-Season Tournament. Whether it’s design judgments or point differences, no trick should go to waste.

Even the league’s national television partners are getting in on the action.

However, it’s hard to understand the suits of the ESPN or Turner Sports faculty celebrating the need to combine personalities from their NBA studio productions for two pregame shows on Dec. 7 before each semifinal game in Las Vegas. Combined crews will work on at least one segment together.

So TNT’s highly decorated NBA studio team of Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith will join ESPN’s ever-fluid NBA studio lineup, which, at least for now, includes Malika Andrews, Stephen A. Smith, Michael Wilbon, Bob Myers and Adrian Wojnarowski.

Confusingly enough, TNT and ESPN will each air one of the two semifinal games and a separate pregame show on the same night. So why not add more chaos to the proceedings by shuffling the broadcast teams?

In addition to the mix of pregame show personalities, TNT’s telecast of the semifinals with Kevin Harlan and Candace Parker will feature the voice of ESPN — Doc Rivers. TNT’s Reggie Miller will move over to ESPN to handle the network’s game telecasts with Doris Burke and Mike Breen.

On what Commissioner Gimmick hopes will be a big night (TV ratings-wise) for the NBA, TNT (a unit of Warner Bros. Discovery) and ESPN would be better off going with what got them there. Does ESPN’s pregame show really need a shot of Barkley to carry them through the night? Does TNT SAS need a prelude to raise the entertainment level and suck more oxygen out of the proceedings?

And when it comes to game telecasts, the night would provide an unusual early-season opportunity for a new “No. 1” NBA broadcast team (Remember, the faculty thought it was a great idea to split their #1 team unceremoniously firing Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson) to gain experience working on a marquee event together. Instead, ESPN is passing on this opportunity for the “honor” of trading Rivers for Miller.


Any network in business with the NBA that wants to continue a relationship with the league should tread lightly. With contract renewals on the minds of all existing TV partners and the threat of new suits with deep pockets, it makes sense to position the NBA suits, aka Silver, when needed.

And if trading Rivers for one night for Miller or bringing Barkley and his pregame crew to ESPN will make the NBA happy you did.

You do it, even if it’s a far-fetched plan.

It would be better if the ESPN and TNT NBA voices lined up in full force in the battle of the broadcasters on December 7th. No addition or subtraction. The idea makes too much sense. Besides, it’s not gimmicky enough for the NBA.


Although Audacy (among its WFAN and WCBS-AM holdings) is on the brink of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, it is not getting out of the baseball business. At least not yet.

Audacy, according to MLB broadcast sources, is expected to soon reach a new deal that has been in doubt to keep the Mets on WCBS-AM.


Joe Benigno’s Jets refinements always have the same form, decibels and level of passion. The beat continued during his Saturday FAN show after Gang Gone’s Friday’s loss to Miami.

Still, if you’ve watched Jets Joey B’s monologues, one name always comes up during the monologue. A man who seems to get under Gasbag’s skin.

That would be Greg Buttle, the former Jets linebacker who co-hosts Jets radio before and after the game with Dan Graca. Why Benigno has it for Buttle is forever a mystery.

Is it personal with Buttle? Suspicious minds want to know.


Play-by-play voices and analysts are quick to tell you “what a great game we’re watching,” but are usually reluctant to point out that the on-field product is garbage.

So credit Fox’s Patriots-Giants production team for keeping things fun — sort of.

Play man Kenny Albert and analyst Jonathan Vilma, usually a reliable duo, didn’t go overboard like it was business as usual. This was sleep-inducing football. Votes got around that by continuing to build Giants rookie QB Tommy DeVito.

Fortunately, the smokescreen was cleared with a remote in-game interview with Fox pregame mouthpieces Michael Strahan and Rob Gronkowski (who has stepped up his game this season). Normally it would disturb the place. On this occasion, it was an escape — from lousy football.


Ironically, one of the few people who can be “taken advantage of”. Aaron Rodgers Achilles Injury is his friend Pat McAfee. He had the foresight to initially make the quarterback a weekly (paid) guest on his YouTube show (now also airing on ESPN) three seasons ago. Now that Rodgers is logging his rehab every Tuesday at 1:05 p.m., he’s a free spot to watch the destination. Only McAfee’s ESPN/YouTube gabfest can claim to have a “guest” that produces the level of unpredictability that Rodgers provides. … Listening to his recent YES podcast, it wasn’t hard to decipher what veteran sports yakker Russ Salzberg thought of Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer’s report of a serious rift between Giants coach Brian Daboll and defensive coordinator Don (Wink) Martindale. “That (report) is not true,” Salzberg said on the “Get a Load of This” podcast. “I think this story is complete rubbish. I guess that means Salzberg didn’t quite believe Glazer’s reports, right? Salzberg also commented on his theory that: “…Other people who cover this team (locally) would rather watch them lose than win. They like misery.” Ouch! Aside from Glazer, Salzberg didn’t mention any reporter’s name during his speech. …SXM’s Christopher (Mad Dog) Russo is into conspiracy theories and came up with another one Wednesday when the phones on his big-budget show died. The Dog blamed old nemesis Dino (Mastermind) Costa for the disorder. Even after all these years, Costa, who is one of the Mt. Rushmore hosts of SXM’s “Mad Dog Sports Radio,” is still somewhere in the Dog’s head. …As if there wasn’t enough basketball to watch , YES has struck a deal with the British Basketball League to stream two games each week (Thursday/Friday) on the YES app.

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For continuing his role in cancer research. The network recently held its 17th annual V Week for Cancer Research. The fundraising effort is in memory of Jim Valvano, a fast-talking and wisecracking college basketball coach who died at age 47 after a year-long battle with cancer and just two months after his famous “Don’t give up, never give up…” speech.


The Panthers owner can fire as many coaches as he wants. nevertheless, he should be concerned with the big picture of his organization. Tepper showed just how petty he can be when he wouldn’t allow Charlotte Observer columnist Scott Fowler, who has been critical of the owner, to ask a question at Tuesday’s press conference. Not a great look.


What Aaron Rodgers he said, “Everything is possible.”

What Aaron Rodgers he wanted to say, “I pity the fools who doubt me.”

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