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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Suggestions for the NBA Draft Telecast

I'm writing this while watching the NBA draft, and I have a few suggestions:

1. The Commish is a tired act. There's little entertainment value in someone who has all of the presence of a Star Wars astromech droid. Instead, hire an entertainer to make this more entertaining. For example, bring in Will Smith and let him host.

2. The ESPN commentators combine to form a human headache. Stephen A. is an audio-narcissist, and Mike Tirico, Greg Anthony and Jay Bilas are rather bland. This team has two participants too many, so I would scrap Stephen A. and Greg Anthony and stick with Tirico and Bilas. The reason: Bilas follows the college game very closely and knows the prospects, so he's a good resource to have. He doesn't have Mel Kiper, Jr.'s hair, and no one knows prospects like Mel, Jr., but Jay is okay.

3. Have a couple of juries (who are prepared) to comment on the draft as it takes place. I thinking a) a jury of former players, including some former greats and b) a jury of current hoops media. For example, the jury of former players could include Charles Barkley, Bill Russell and Bill Walton, and the jury of media members could include Stephen A., Peter Vecsey perhaps, and a few others. Both of these panels could enrich the telecast immensely if handled the right way. Remember, ESPN and NBA, this presentation should be entertaining. Let these guys be the front line on the play-by-play and color commentator for the telecast. Less, especially in this case, is more.

4. Have a few commentators available to talk about draft history, draft oddities, how successful teams have been in the draft, and the types of facts that enrich the telecast. These are the Kiper types, perhaps not well known names, but if you package them right they could develop their own cult following.

This telecast should be a great promotional piece for the NBA. While it comes on the heels of the NBA championship series, it should be a great whetter of the average fan's appetite for the next season.

5. Get rid of the bromides. I like Dick Vitale, but tonight all that's come out of his mouth is that each kid is a "winner." Look, no one will dispute that the kids who get drafted in the first round are talented players, but every fan has a memory of his team's blowing a high pick. For examples, 76ers fans remember the year that the hometown team took Sharone Wright of Clemson with the fifth pick in the first round, and his cup of coffee hardly had a chance to get cold. That doesn't mean that the commentators have to be brutally frank and pick on the weaknesses of the average draftee, but some good analysis and some good storytelling would help make the telecast.

6. I would advocate bringing back Craig Sager and his colorful suits. They added flavor to the TNT draftcasts, and they would add flavor here.

7. Jettison the Coach K "I'm a leader" ads. They lack the humility that we once totally admired Coach K for. They aren't convincing (even if you're positively disposed toward Coach K) and they're presumptuous. Funny juxtaposition: Coach K gets the ads, but archrival North Carolina has four players taken in the first 14 picks of the draft -- Marvin Williams, Raymond Felton, Sean May and Rashad McCants. Coach, I'll take Roy Williams' past season, not yours. Enough.

8. Create a little more suspense at the end of the first round. After all, players who don't get taken in the first round don't get guaranteed contracts, so they're sweating it a bit. Let's hear some of their stories.

9. Look at the early entry list and examine what certain kids were thinking. For example, is Billy Donovan's Florida program falling off a cliff? Otherwise, why would Anthony Roberson, Matt Walsh and David Lee declare for the draft and not withdraw when none is a lock to be a first-round pick? Walsh has been quoted in the Philadelphia papers that he's been told he has "a good chance" that he'd be taken anywhere between 18 and 30 in the first round. I haven't read his name in the first round of any mock drafts, which makes you wonder if it was a relative who told him of his draft possibilities. Roberson is off the radar screen, and while Lee showed well at the Chicago draft camp, it doesn't look like he's pushed his way into the first round. Which makes you wonder what has gone on at Florida. Is it these kids? Is it Coach Donovan? That's an interesting story, and I'm not sure anyone has probed it.

10. Look at the early entry lists of years past and talk about the mistakes that were made. Where are the Korleone Youngs and Ousmane Cisses of the world, good kids who made bad mistakes. Naturally, we don't need a big downer on what should be an upbeat night, but it would be an interesting feature to demonstrate how hard it is to make it in the NBA.

11. Finally, have someone do a feature on NBA rosters and how some players took interesting routes to get there. After all, it's not always the four-year major college star who makes the big time. Some of those guys peter out, while you end up with the Raja Bells of the world from Florida International (or was it Florida Atlantic) who end up making NBA rosters. A few of those stories might be nice as well.

In any event, I'm waiting for the first round to end, to see where the magical line is drawn, and then I'm heading to bed. I don't think it's worth waiting around for the second round, because the show is over by then.


Blogger Nana Bridget said...

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9:12 AM  

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