ESPN's Lakers-Celtics Special Was A Winner

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


I originally wrote this for posting over at Sporting News, but I wanted to share it in this spot as well. I don't know if you watched the Sports Center Special last night on ESPN, but if you missed it I tried to capture it's greatness as much I could.

ESPN Actually Does Something Cool With Its Celtics-Lakers Coverage (The Sporting Blog)

When I wrote about the NBA Finals late in the day on Monday the obvious angle to note was the Jimmy Kimmel appearance. Well that was certainly not the case after Tuesday night. ESPN's re-airing of Game Six of the 1987 NBA Finals between the Lakers and Celtics was some of the best programming I've seen the channel ever air. But before we get into the clips and the show itself I want to share with you the reason that I didn't even mention it in the Finals preview the other night. I think this section of the press release speaks for itself....

SportsCenter NBA Finals Special Tuesday on ESPN
ESPN will televise a three-hour primetime SportsCenter NBA Finals Special devoted to Game 6 of the 1987 NBA Finals – the last time the Celtics and Lakers met in The Finals – Tuesday, June 3, at 7 p.m. The Lakers defeated the Celtics, with Magic Johnson earning MVP honors. The telecast will include game footage, interviews with participants, and a look ahead at the 2008 NBA Finals.
I know that sound far from boring but it was nothing compared with what they actually did on Tuesday night. Matt Winer and Tim Legler hosted an over 3-hour replay of on of the Lakers-Celtics most intense games and not only did they not interrupt the game itself but they even brought in some of the old players between breaks in the action. Dick Stockton and Tommy Heisohn were on the call that night and not only did they interview the play-by-play man Stockton, but they also sat down with the face of CBS at the time Brent Musburger. Here are some of the highlights....



I can't stress enough how much this idea worked on multiple levels. First the obvious is that it was a vehicle to promote the 2008 Finals. There's never anything wrong with advertising your product, but this show did that and more. The simplicity of the original broadcast, along with the unobtrusive and fan-like demeanor of Winer and Legler let the rivalry speak for itself. The addition of all of the media folks and the announcers was just the icing on the cake.

The game itself took us back to a time where Dick Stockton was at the top of his game and Tommy Heisohn added an unbelievable amount of unbiased commentary. There were no explosions, there were no intrusive and useless sideline reporters, and there was no crappy music or obtrusive graphics. It was just ridiculously talented Basketball players who hated each other waging war, and it was awesome.

Now that's not to say that today's game is bad (it most certainly isn't most of the time). Sure the game back then was different and you're not likely to see Kobe go and shake the Celtics' Coaches hands (ala Kareem Abdul Jabar in 1987 as he leaves the game), but the allure of this year's Finals to NBA fans is just as great as it was back then. Of course there's not seven (seven!) future Hall of Famers playing in Game One this Thursday, but it's still going to be fun. I don't know who came up with this idea over at Bristol HQ, but it's one of the best things the network has done in the past 10 years. Hopefully they re-air it for those that missed it.

ESPN Actually Does Something Cool With Its Celtics-Lakers Coverage (The Sporting Blog)

12 Comments:

Where did that Bob Cousy comment come from or go to?

Anonymous said...
Jun 4, 2008, 11:47:00 AM  

Well done on giving ESPN credit for doing things right. Especially with how many people in Bristol read your blog. If a blogger has earned respect it pays to leverage that respect in the right way.

That said, we need more stuff going back to the '60's! 3 game 7's!

philip said...
Jun 4, 2008, 11:52:00 AM  

I hope they re-air it. I didn't even know it was on last night

Mark B said...
Jun 4, 2008, 12:03:00 PM  

We don't need to see 60's basketball at all.

GMoney said...
Jun 4, 2008, 12:15:00 PM  

Agree with AA-Great broadcast by the WWL. Considering I was about to graduate from High School in '87, some memories were a bit...hazy(OK-extremely hazy). I had forgotten how bad Bird was in that game...and that his back-up was Fresh Freddie Roberts! Also, memories of old Stop&Shop commercials done by the likes of The Chief(holding a raw steak.."I like a steak I can serve wif pride.") Musta been tough to do for a veg
-head.

Monty said...
Jun 4, 2008, 12:48:00 PM  

Let's see. A site called awful announcing begins a review of a show with the line "First the obvious is that it was a vehicle to promote the 2008 Finals. There's never anything wrong with advertising your product, but this show did that and more." Talking about marketing is OK. It's an odd way for you to start your defense of this show. (Maybe aa really does need an MSM-style editor.) So, as a reader, what am I now to conclude? You like advertorial/marketing programs? You don't seem to have liked them in the past. And you don't address that seeming hypocrisy in this post. This post comes across as mimicking what aa hates about the MSM...a sense that things were better back in my day. Only you seem to be going to the 80s rather than earlier eras. Look, it was an OK show. I just would have liked to seen more thought put into your review.

AA Hates ESPN said...
Jun 4, 2008, 12:56:00 PM  

Mister Hater,
Please, AA takes a ton of shots at ESPN, and most are legitimate and the rest are funny. He's giving them credit for good work, because that is what a responsible and professional critic does.

AA isn't trying to be a "rip on ESPN" site, it's trying to make things better. I know it's tough to attempt, but it's worth it.

We do live in a capitalist society a bit of marketing and commercialism is part of that. When it becomes all about marketing and commercials that is where there is an issue. Like the Greatest Highlight, Who's Now, and Titletown bits. Those served no purpose other than promoting ESPN. This is promoting the game of basketball by showing us what it was like at one of it's greatest moments. I hope Kobe, KG, and all of there teammates give us what the Celtics and Lakers have in the '60's and '80's.

Keep up the good work AA!

philip said...
Jun 4, 2008, 1:15:00 PM  

Mr. philip,
I agree with you. We do live in a capitalist society. And marketing and commercialism is part of that. So, perhaps, following this posting, the site's name should be changed to awful marketing or awful commercialism.

AA Hates ESPN said...
Jun 4, 2008, 1:22:00 PM  

Thanks Phil...couldn't have said it better myself. I very well may need an editor for other things, but I thought that part made perfect sense.

Being a Sports Business major in College I understand the need for Marketing and Promotion, but the way ESPN has done it as of late is just sickening. From the Nike posts in the past you can tell that I really DO enjoy marketing efforts that are done right.

I know that certain people want to discredit everything I do on this site and you're welcome to do so when it's warranted. You've been really grasping at straws lately though my friend.

Jun 4, 2008, 1:23:00 PM  

Just one more point, aa. Please take this as constructive criticism, and don't become so defensive. But when you say things like "I know that certain people want to discredit everything I do on this site," you really sound like a megalomaniac. And when you reference your college major as evidence that you know the business world, well, then you sound a little bit clueless. I don't think that's the vibe you should be looking for on this site.

AA Hates ESPN said...
Jun 4, 2008, 2:04:00 PM  

Fair enough, but if you read the "About" section you'll gain more of a perspective of how long I've been in the Business World. I've had three major jobs in my post graduate career. A sports team, a newspaper, and a corporate marketing gig.

Not being a Meg at all...just providing validity to the post. And I could care less if someone disagrees with me. That's the reason I leave the comments open to Anon posters. Not everyone is going to agree with me and that's a good thing.

Jun 4, 2008, 2:19:00 PM  

There has to be a shot of Bill Walton being interviewed in his Grateful Dead room out there.

Anonymous said...
Jun 4, 2008, 3:15:00 PM  

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