Showtime’s three-part documentary Shut Up and Dribble debuts this weekend and the network is in the final stages of generating buzz. To that end, the final trailer for the series dropped over the weekend. Today, Richard Deitsch’s “Media Circus” column at The Athletic features an interview with Shut Up and Dribble director Gotham Chopra.
The documentary focuses on athlete activism in the NBA and the reaction to it. Chopra told Deitsch that it is the second part that is the new phenomenon. “Right now the times we live in are incredibly politicized and very divisive, but it’s not necessarily a new phenomenon. I think the tone of it is to some degree, but this convergence of sports and politics has a rich history and not just in the NBA.”
He also says that while LeBron James, who serves as an executive producer on the project, and Fox News host Laura Ingraham’s reaction to him is the jumping off point for this particular story, Shut Up and Dribble covers the history of activism in sports just as much as it does the current political climate. “Our title leads people to believe this is about the Twitter spats between the White House, prominent NBA players, and Fox News, but this story starts in the 1950s and it’s about Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson, Isiah Thomas, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Craig Hodges and many others. There is a rich lineage of players who have sacrificed a lot to get to where the NBA is probably one of the most socially-impactful and relevant sports leagues on the planet.”
Chopra also wanted to look at players who refused to participate in any activist causes. To that end, he reached out to the famously politics-averted Michael Jordan. Not surprisingly, Jordan turned down the opportunity to be interviewed for the series. “I knew that would be virtually impossible and not just because of the narrative around Michael and politics but athletes have their own projects and some of these projects are competitive.”
Another former Fox News punching bag, The Atlantic‘s Jemele Hill serves as the narrator of Shut Up and Dribble. Part one debuts on Saturday night at 10pm. The final two parts will air a week later.
Skip Bayless Says He And Stephen A. Smith ‘Sorted Out’ Their Disagreement
“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”
Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless were locked in a war of words last week following the First Take host’s appearance on JJ Redick’s Old Man and the Three podcast.
The origins of their partnership were discussed and Bayless admitted he did not like the way Smith characterized the state of First Take before he arrived on set. Smith insisted that Bayless simply misunderstood what he meant by saying that he was told the show needed him.
Over the weekend, Skip Bayless says he and Stephen A. Smith got together at the Bayless home in California to talk things out in private.
“He was in LA, he came over, we sat by the pool,” he said on the latest episode of The Skip Bayless Show. “It wasn’t the easiest conversation for a while, but we slowly but surely sorted it out. We got through it, and we have been through so much together.”
Bayless reiterated that he considers Smith a brother. They love each other. That doesn’t mean they are always going to remember events the same way or see eye-to-eye all the time.
“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”
Fighting doesn’t mean the relationship is fractured. In fact, Skip Bayless was adamant that he remains closer to Smith than he is to most people in his life.
“I don’t trust easily because of the way I was raised, but I do trust Stephen Anthony Smith. Trust him with my life. Always have and always will. I trust he will always be there for me, and you better believe I will always be there for him.”
FOX Sports VP: ‘USFL Proves Spring Football As Valuable As Rising Properties’
“We want to show we belong in that category, and I think that happened.”
Michael Mulvihill says the USFL accomplished exactly what FOX needed it to. It proved there is a large enough audience for spring football that it has a value on par with some of the hottest properties in sports media right now.
“All we wanted to do is demonstrate that spring football can do viewership at the levels of Premier League, NHL regular season, Formula One or MLS,” the FOX Sports Executive VP said according to Sports Business Journal. “We want to show we belong in that category, and I think that happened.”
While none of those properties are pulling in the kind of media rights money the NFL or major college football is, Mulvihill pointed out that all of them have been in the news for the right reasons.
“You’re talking about properties that have all recently negotiated deals at substantial increases, or with F1, people know it’s about to.”
The USFL had a solid broadcasting footprint with games airing on FOX, NBC, FS1 and USA. Regular season games for the first year of the revived league averaged just under 700,000 viewers.
Mulvihill said fans behaved exactly how he expected them to in the first season of the USFL. Without any team loyalties, he isn’t surprised that people watched less of an average USFL game than they did the NFL or college football.
The USFL Playoffs begin this weekend. Canton, OH will host the league’s first championship game on July 3.
Pelicans Extend Deal With Bally Sports New Orleans
“The deal will also put the team on the new Bally Sports+ streaming service, which had a soft launch earlier this week.”
Sinclair has reached an agreement on a new rights deal with the New Orleans Pelicans. Bally Sports New Orleans will remain the team’s local TV partner.
The deal will also put the team on the new Bally Sports+ streaming service, which had a soft launch earlier this week. The service rolls out in full this fall.
“When we constructed this new agreement with Bally Sports New Orleans the main priority was distribution and the ability to deliver our games directly to our fans,” Dennis Lauscha, President of the New Orleans Pelicans, said in a press release. With the upcoming launch of Bally Sports+, Bally Sports’ direct-to-consumer platform, any Pelicans fan will be able to have access to Bally Sports New Orleans in the team’s local territory. This partnership allows us to continue to deliver unique, compelling Pelicans content across multiple platforms with the highest production quality. We are still working every option with Bally Sports New Orleans to improve the accessibility, ancillary content and distribution of Pelicans programming to all of our fans across Louisiana and the Gulf Coast region.”
Bally Sports New Orleans will carry around 75 regular season games per year. The network will also produce first round playoff and preseason games.
“The New Orleans Pelicans have been a great partner over the years and we look forward to building this relationship into the future,” added Steve Simpson, SVP and GM of Bally Sports New Orleans. “Our ability to deliver Pelicans content to as many local fans as possible, on both linear distribution channels and the all-new Bally Sports+ streaming product this fall, is incredibly exciting as we continue to grow the next generation of Pelicans fans.”
The Pelicans did look at new media partners before re-signing with Bally Sports New Orleans. Karen Brodkin, Executive Vice President of Endeavor, who the team hired to consult the process, noted that the existing relationship and the addition of a proprietary streaming platform for Sinclair made the difference.