ESPN Is Ruining Drafts As We Know Them

Friday, June 27, 2008


Before I get into the coverage I just wanted to note how draining last night's NBA Draft was. I can't remember being completely exhausted after a live-blog of one of the best nights of the Sports Year. Maybe it was the lack of notable players in the second round, or the fact that there were no random Europeans jumping out of the stands, but by the end I was spent. Also, before the grading goes down I wanted to note that I don't have anything against anyone on the Draft telecast last night (yes, even Stu Scott somewhat). I think all parties involved are good on their own and know their stuff, which is why this is so odd to say....

EVERYONE...and I mean EVERYONE....involved in the program last night was just downright terrible.

I don't really know what it was, but as a group they combined to makeup the worst coverage team I think I've ever seen. I even waited through the morning to start writing this because I wanted to think it about it again and be fair. Wait, let's think a little more......nope still awful.

The host of a program doesn't necessarily need to be flawless in and out of transitions and segments, but he has to be close to it. That's what made Mike Tirico and Dan Patrick so good on NBA Draft coverage. It's almost like a good referee or umpire. They don't do anything crazy and you don't even mention them. It started off bad for Stu Scott and it just got worse. I started keeping track of his mistakes after a few picks and here's the list I and the commenters came up with.

1. Said Eric Gordon was Big Ten Player of the Year for Illinois (I know there was a battle for him, but come on).
2. Said the only time the Knicks have picked higher in the draft was when they picked Sky Walker at #5 (some guy named Ewing was picked somewhere in the Top 5 I think....oh yeah first).
3. Said the Knicks last made the Playoffs seven years ago (it's only been four).
4. Called the Pac-10 a Basketball school.
5. Lost it during a Portland-Hornets trade.
6. Ragged on the Doc Rivers Gatorade soaked shirt which was auctioned off for charity.
7. CONSTANTLY talked about the record number of Freshman taken and didn't once mention the NBA's age limit.

Etc, Etc, Etc. I know it's live television, and it's far from easy, but that many errors just distracts you from what the other analysts on set are saying. Not that they were ACTUALLY saying anything interesting (which is a perfect transition into the other three on stage).

First up, Jeff Van Gundy knows nothing about College players. He even openly admitted it. I have zero problems with that, but they only went to his strengths (NBA teams and strategy) three or four times in the night. He just looked lost up there and no one was setting him up at all. Jay Bilas on the other hand is one of ESPN's brightest minds in regards to the College game. He knows every player on the board and has stats memorized. That's why I hope one day someone passes along this bit of information to him.....making up terms makes you just sound goofy and a lot less smart than you really are.

"Pick Popability"? "Dunking with his elbows"? "He's bouncy"? "He's a pre-packaged guy"? "He's got an elongated reach"? "He can't find the keys to the toolbox"? "Second jumpability"? WHAT DOES ANY OF THAT MEAN?!?!?! Good lord. I know it's a long broadcast, but Bilas has to be (and is) smarter than that. It is so g'damn distracting. Lastly, Mark Jackson....I actually don't have anything bad to say about him because I didn't really even notice he was there. He adds zippy to the broadcast outside of his Draft Day experience being from NY and being drafted by NY. If you note the NFL Draft they only go to the MNF team about three or four times.....THEY DON'T PUT THEM ON THE MAIN STAGE!

I think we all knew it was going to be bad when we saw who was involved, and maybe ESPN was just trying something different, but I didn't think it was going to be THAT BAD! Add to the foursome depressed Stephen A. who didn't even want to be there, an overacting Doris Burke and the euro-stalker Fran Fraschilla and you have ESPN's worst broadcast in years. I'm sorry, but that was worse than "Who's Now". ESPN even let Bill Simmons mock them in his "Diary" they were so bad (more on that later).

I wish I was kidding when I say this, but they made "Monday Night Countdown" look like "60 Minutes". Just dreadful. Sorry for the length but I'm just done with ESPN's coverage of Drafts. They ruined day one of the NFL Draft and now the entire NBA Draft. I don't know what needs to be done to change it though. Maybe it's about time we got to vote on who gets to cover what events? I don't even know anymore....I'm all out of ideas at this point. If you have any good ones leave them in the comments.....you never know when ESPN is reading.

40 Comments:

You should have a live blog for the NHL draft last week. viva TSN~!

odessasteps said...
Jun 27, 2008, 12:27:00 PM  

I think Stu said Gordon was Mr. Basketball in the state of Illinois. Not Big Ten Player of the Year at Illinois, unless he made 2 errors of similar nature.

Luis said...
Jun 27, 2008, 12:32:00 PM  

I blame Stu's errors on his lazy eye. I believe it to possess "Quato-like" powers to control Scott's thoughts and speech patterns. Much like that belly-alien in "Total Recall." But I could be way off on that.

MikeT said...
Jun 27, 2008, 12:40:00 PM  

Ah you might be right Luis. Either way it's wrong though.

Jun 27, 2008, 12:41:00 PM  

I enjoyed that Shan Foster "must improve: 3-point shooting." He shot 47% from 3 last year.

As a Vandy grad, this bugged the hell out of me.

Kevin said...
Jun 27, 2008, 12:51:00 PM  

I think you were being kind.

Stu Scott was dreadful. He stepped on every Stern announcement. His attempts at humor were lame (i.e. "Jason Thompson will host the 2nd round. Nah, just kidding"). And his reading of inane stats was annoying (understand this was likely a producer issue). I could care less if it's the first time college teammates have been selected back-to-back at 4 and 5 or how many sets of twins there are in the NBA. The 5 minutes in between felt rushed enough - don't waste the precious minutes with that garbage.

Stephen A. was a disgrace. He asked the same question to every guy - "What will Player X bring to the NBA". Grab any random hot chick and put her up there to ask that question - at least she would be worth looking at.

And JVG and Mark Jackson were a waste. Andy Katz, Digger Phelps, even Doug Gottleib would have been more credible.

Anonymous said...
Jun 27, 2008, 12:51:00 PM  

How about the "smart NY fans" that cheered when Arthur was picked? Didn't they also boo the Knicks pick. We get enough pro-NY shoved down our throats, shut up Mark Jackson.

Greg said...
Jun 27, 2008, 12:53:00 PM  

A lot of the bad humor from Stu reminded me of his awful attempts at witty banter on Stump the Schwab (hey, it plays endlessly on Classic). Maybe he doesn't deal well in groups :-)

Hank Brockett said...
Jun 27, 2008, 1:12:00 PM  

The "Dick Vitale needs to show more excitement" joke was old in 1994.

Greg said...
Jun 27, 2008, 1:14:00 PM  

Spot on analysis. Scott, like Chris Berman, belongs in the studio doing Sportscenter. Although Jackson and JVG work pretty well together on game broadcasts (despite having an up and down final series) they had no business being at the NBA Draft telecast. Neither brought much of anything to the table last night. Smith's interviews were pointless and Bilas is just becoming laughable.

Instead of paying Simmons to right his hiliarious draft diaries, ESPN should consider paying him to do the player interviews and/or commentaries every twenty minutes or so to provide his thoughts.

SD Sports Guy said...
Jun 27, 2008, 1:53:00 PM  

Suggestions:

- Have SVP host. It couldn't get worse than Stu did.

- Get van Gundy off the stage, and get a former front office guy in your stable. Floyd Reese could provide better perspective than anyone when it comes to decision making for the NFL Draft, why not give us that for the NBA.

- Is there really a need to know how the player is going to "try to help his team win," and is feeling "very excited right now"??? Lose the interview portion, and just stick with the analysis.

- In addition, there is a 5 min clock. I don't need 4 and 1/2 mins of the previous pick. I understand that 5 minutes is not a lot of time, but you can definately break down a pick in 3 mins and use the remaining 2 mins to tell me what the next team needs and who they probably will take.

The Lazer said...
Jun 27, 2008, 2:02:00 PM  

How about sending the draft back to TNT?

Ernie Johnson is the perfect referee...and Barkley and Kenny Smith are always great.

I suppose I could deal with Craig Sager....at least more than SAS.

And David Aldrige might be able to throw his hat into the ring.

Yep, TNT it should be.

Truth About It said...
Jun 27, 2008, 2:09:00 PM  

I listened to a little a bit on ESPN radio and thought they did a much better job. I think what ESPN was doing with their draft team was an homage to the Knicks - some talented pieces, but combined, everyone seemed out of place. I'd say Stephen A. was their Stephon Marbury. Stu was their Eddy Curry. Jay Bilas was their Jamal Crawford in that he kept throwing up stuff to see what stuck. And Doris Burke was their David Lee - did what was expected by never given the chance to do any heavy lifting.

Doneycat said...
Jun 27, 2008, 2:12:00 PM  

Or ESPN could periodically post some of what Simmons writes in a little sidebar while the draft is happening. Sure beats the lame attempts at humor by Scott and the pablum being spewed by Jackson & Van Gundy.

SVP isn't a bad call as host. As far as a front office guy...hmmmmm. I think Larry Harris is available...and will be available for the next 30 years. On second thought, scratch that last idea.

SD Sports Guy said...
Jun 27, 2008, 2:15:00 PM  

Its too bad, but I think televised drafts have hit their peak. Too many talking heads. Too many lame jokes. Worthless analysis. And Stu Scott's eye just looks creepy outside of the Bristol studios. I, for one, would like to see these things scaled back some. Like not on TV at all. That would work. This game is best left to bloggers in a format much like AA. Much more entertaining.

MikeT said...
Jun 27, 2008, 2:15:00 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
MikeT said...
Jun 27, 2008, 2:15:00 PM  

"Its too bad, but I think televised drafts have hit their peak. Too many talking heads. Too many lame jokes. Worthless analysis."

I think you're correct, but it's not just drafts: studio shows, broadcast teams, everything. ESPN has too many people, too many lame jokes and too much poor analysis in everything that it does nowadays. It's a shame, the WWL used to be a great resource.

James said...
Jun 27, 2008, 2:30:00 PM  

ESPN has ruined the NFL draft and the NBA draft, thankfully they haven't ruined the MLB draft. Of course, it's only been televised for two years, so they've still got plenty of time. It's only a matter of time before they bring Joe Morgan onto the draft broadcast (that'll make Van Gundy look brilliant, by comparison) and dump Jim Callis and Keith Law, who are better prospect gurus than Bilas or Kiper.

Sorry, I know this isn't an MLB Draft blog entry, but I felt the need to rant.

Stupid ESPN...

James said...
Jun 27, 2008, 2:33:00 PM  

Great ideas everyone and I might even make a post out of them. The weird thing is that ESPN spent the last few years hiring some really good writers and analysts but they never use them.

They had Rick Carlisle for a few years (I think I saw him twice) and Greg Anthony and Jalen Rose know more about the NBA (and all Sports) than Jackson or Van Gundy.

The MLB Draft is the only one they do right but no one follows it. They have Olney, Keith Law and a bunch of Scouts guys on and they actually know what they're talking about.

What's wrong with Bill Simmons and Hollinger on the coverage?

Jun 27, 2008, 2:40:00 PM  

"What's wrong with Bill Simmons and Hollinger on the coverage?"

That would be the best idea ESPN could have in relation to the NBA draft, but we all know it'd never happen.

ESPN's bevy of ex-player and coach analysts would throw a fit if Simmons got put on the broadcast. It's like Joe Morgan and the sabermetrics crowd: Simmons never played the game, he's just a nerdy fan who sits behind his computer, so how could he have anything worthwhile to say?

Hollinger is insightful and intelligent, which is exactly why they'd never use him. He's too smart for the dumbed-down intelligence level that ESPN appeals to.

James said...
Jun 27, 2008, 2:52:00 PM  

Simmons and Hollinger would be great. Although JH would need to tone down the stats and formulas just a bit. While there is definitely some substance to what he says/writes, I hardly think Carl Landry was the 8th best player in basketball last season.

Also, giving Chad Ford a bigger role would be a shrewd idea. He went toe to toe with Simmons the other day via e-mail and I was impressed. I didn't realize how funny he was.

Anonymous said...
Jun 27, 2008, 2:58:00 PM  

The best (and most awkward) Stu Scott moment was when he interviewed Larry Bird and asked him how both Bayless and Rush would fit in even though the Pacers had just traded Bayless for Rush. Larry Bird was not a fan of Scott's ineptitude.

drew said...
Jun 27, 2008, 3:04:00 PM  

I guess I clicked on anonymous by mistake with that last comment. As a
follow-up to my thought on Hollinger toning down the stats: I agree that he would bring insight and intelligence to the broadcast. However, some of the stats just need to be explainted in the right context or his credibility could be called into question. Landry is a nice 10-20 minute player, but he'll likely never sniff an all-star game

SD Sports Guy said...
Jun 27, 2008, 3:05:00 PM  

Yeah...that Scott/Bird interview was a classic. Surprised that Larry went along with it instead of calling Stu out.

SD Sports Guy said...
Jun 27, 2008, 3:08:00 PM  

Stuart Scott was unwatchable. He's OK most of the time, but his 'routine' was tired and annoying. Awful.

derby said...
Jun 27, 2008, 3:26:00 PM  

You nailed it with this post, AA. I actually turned my TV off and went to NBA.com to keep updated it was so bad. I hate S.A.S. and Stu Scott is dreadful.

-- Nick
http://fyisf.blogspot.com

Nick said...
Jun 27, 2008, 3:50:00 PM  

"What can you bring to (insert team name that drafted them)?"

The only thing that SAS had to ask all night and he was still awful at it.

GMoney said...
Jun 27, 2008, 4:16:00 PM  

I think you guys said it, ESPN is not even trying to appeal to us, they're trying to appeal to Joe Sportsfan who doesn't know anything else. The coverage is dumbed-down. I didn't even make an attempt to watch the NBA draft and I choose the NFL Network for my draft coverage.

Eric said...
Jun 27, 2008, 4:30:00 PM  

Critiquing the NBA draft is sub-critiquing a shade of white on a wall, or the color of a carpet in the Men's Room. Honestly. The NBA-heavy rotation of this blog is by far its hugest weakness.

Sam Perkins said...
Jun 27, 2008, 5:27:00 PM  

i know that the coverage is bad, but some of you guys go overboard. It just seems that some people just watch so they can come on these blogs to complain about how bad things are...espn doesnt force you to watch these drafts and with the internet you can get all the information without ever watching the draft on tv.

Anonymous said...
Jun 27, 2008, 6:34:00 PM  

How about when Stu said Devon Hardin was the first Cal player drafted since Leon Powe? (Yeah, except for that one drafted a couple hours ago.) Fortunately, he did correct himself.

Anonymous said...
Jun 27, 2008, 6:59:00 PM  

Talk about length. Was there ever anybody longer than Sam? Come on Perk...the NBA is where it happens.
The cast of characters playing, coaching, general managing, and announcing in the NBA is 2nd to none.

p.s. Has Bill Walton ever been on one of the Draft telecasts? Now that would be entertaining. That was a teeeeeeeeerible pick!

SD Sports Guy said...
Jun 27, 2008, 7:36:00 PM  

Stuart Scott actually said that the LAST TIME the Knicks picked this high, they took Kenny Walker. This is true. Ewing was taken in '85 and Walker in '86. You fucking idiot. Be objective and stop complaining about EVERYTHING.

Doodles said...
Jun 28, 2008, 3:31:00 PM  

@ Doodles


You're going to point out one mistake compared to the other nonsense things ESPN has done?


Which ESPN talking head are you?

ssreporters said...
Jun 28, 2008, 4:00:00 PM  

ssreporters. see the second comment as well, this particular article literally makes up shit to complain about.

Doodles said...
Jun 28, 2008, 4:37:00 PM  

Doodles- That quote was submitted by a commenter so it's possible it wasn't right, but are you really ignoring everything else?

If you enjoyed the broadcast then good for you but just like you only focusing on 1 out of 7 mistakes I wrote about, you are 1 of 35 people who enjoyed the draft. Sorry but the numbers speak for themselves.

Jun 28, 2008, 5:03:00 PM  

I got, Frank Caliendo does the draft as a one man show.  Except if he mentions Brett Farve like John Madden, he gets tasered!!

Anonymous said...
Jun 28, 2008, 7:35:00 PM  

I think the worst part of the draft was when they decided to break the news that derrick rose would be selected at # 1 before it actually happened. Nice way to provide suspense for the people at the arena and the people at home.

Anonymous said...
Jun 29, 2008, 1:57:00 AM  

I absolutely loathe Stu Scott so it surprises me people think he was so horrible. You knew going in it wasn't Mike Tirico and Stu Scott so you knew there would be a drop-off. I guess I expected a bigger decline than I experienced, because for all the notation of his errors made I still expected it to be worse. It is a draft. It is not the easiest thing to bring excitement and drama to for the most part. I'd rather have Stephen A. "feeling it" with the interviews than yakking at the front desk. Van Gundy and Jackson and Bilas were all functional. Like the one poster mentioned, if you wanted to see broadcasting at its very worst, you should have seen the TSN/Versus/NHL effort on the recent NHL draft. Aside from most of us not having a clue who the guys are, the telecast was a disaster in terms of production, commentary...you name it.

Sportsattitude said...
Jun 29, 2008, 9:02:00 AM  

If I heard him right, Stu also said that Vinny Del Negro won a national championship with Jimmy V at NC State. Vinny was a freshman in 84-85 so he obviously didn't play on the '83 team.

But you can't expect a guy who went to school on Tobacco Road and worked at WRAL right across the street from State's campus to know anything about ACC basketball...

Anonymous said...
Jun 29, 2008, 1:52:00 PM  

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