One year ago on Thursday, the whole sports world changed and our new normal occurred due to COVID-19. During this week, some sports shows will look back on what they were doing on their shows at night when the news broke that the NBA season was suspended.
Here is a clip from that night’s SportsCenter broadcast:
For Scott Van Pelt, SportsCenter with SVP was going to be a lot different than a normal Wednesday night. This week, Van Pelt and Stanford Steve were joined on the SVPod by NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, reporters Malika Andrews and Royce White (White was in Oklahoma City for Jazz-Thunder), producer Marco Alfandary and director Joe Iuliano to reflect on the events from that night.
The show began with Alfandary talking about what was going on as the news started to break that the season was going to be suspended and that the night wasn’t going to be the same as Van Pelt was set to due a cut-in with Wojnarowski at halftime of the Nuggets-Mavericks game.
“I can remember walking into the control room maybe a little bit early. There were some early rumblings that maybe something unusual was afoot at the Thunder game. We were watching Woj’s timeline very closely. I remember being in the control room and the rest of it was an out-of-body experience as things started to cascade.”
For Andrews, at the time she thought she was missing out on covering a game without fans, but she thought back to how she feels now compared to a year ago when she got the call to get off the road.
“To think about that now versus what ended up happening. It is amazing to think back at how quick the dominoes were falling.”
Woj admits that before the night that the NBA halted play, the virus was on his mind and even predicted he would be writing more about health and safety than assists and rebounds.
“The NBA was preparing its teams in a way that the United States government wasn’t preparing its citizens to be quite honest,” he said on the podcast. “I remember saying to Cristina Daglas at some point in that week before, we are getting to a point where I think all I should be doing is writing about this virus. I don’t think there is any basketball stuff I should be worried about now. To the extent it did, I don’t think anyone else was prepared for that.”
Van Pelt mentioned that he thinks about that night, which he called the most memorable night of his career and how the control room helped him in a big way.
“That night, I remember that there was a permanence. We were the ones that got to document it. It wasn’t because we were good, we were on the air. What you guys did in that control room allowed me to be the anchor that hopefully didn’t throw the ball out of bounds. I always knew you were not going to put me in harm’s way. I just remember being so grateful we had a great room that we can trust. It’s what I think of now.”
Ricky Keeler is a reporter for BSM with a primary focus on sports media podcasts and national personalities. He is also an active podcaster with an interest in pursuing a career in sports media. You can find him on Twitter @Rickinator555 or reach him by email at RickJKeeler@gmail.com.
Mike Francesa: George Steinbrenner’s Idea to Put Mike and The Mad Dog On YES Network
“It was George’s idea. So give him credit for it. He wanted Mike and The Mad Dog as part of the CBS Radio contract, and we were.”
Mike and The Mad Dog is often cited as one of, if not the, best sports radio shows of all time. The show saw an expanded reach with its partnership with the YES Network beginning in 2002. During his podcast Tuesday, Mike Francesa gave all the credit to the simulcast hitting the air on YES Network to the late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.
“It was George Steinbrenner that came up with the idea of Mike and The Mad Dog being on the YES Network. No one else,” Francesa said.
“They came to us when they were negotiating a new radio deal with him and they said ‘Hey, we need a quick answer on this. Would you guys want to be on the YES Network every day, simulcasting? You know what Imus is doing with MSNBC? We wanna do it with you guys, but we need a very quick answer’.”
Francesa said the show airing on YES Network was a sticking point for the Yankees in negotiations with CBS Radio to continue airing the franchise’s broadcasts.
“Our first deal with them were not for a lot of money. Our later deals with them were for a very significant amount of money. But it was George’s idea. So give him credit for it. He wanted Mike and The Mad Dog as part of the CBS Radio contract, and we were. Our joining the YES Network was part of the CBS Radio contract.”
Dave Portnoy Reveals Back-And-Forth With New York Times Reporter Who Claimed He ‘Did Not Provide Answers’
“You waited till (sic) your hit piece was done and now you just need to say you gave me a fair chance to speak even though you have no interest in the truth and your article is already written”.
A story from The New York Times centered around “aging casino company” — Penn National Gaming — and its relationship with “degenerate gambler” — Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy — caught the eye of the face of the online outlet after the claim that he “didn’t provide answers”.
In the story, Steel claims “Penn and Barstool executives did not respond to repeated messages. Mr. Portnoy did not provide answers.” Portnoy brought the receipts to Twitter with a video of all of the correspondence he had with Times writer Emily Steel.
The alleged conversation takes place sporadically from May through November, with Portnoy offering to meet face-to-face with Steel for an interview that is mutually audio and video recorded, which Steel declines. She offered to meet Portnoy in New York for an audio recorded interview, which he declined, saying the interview needed to take place in Miami, because “I’m not running around to accommodate you at the 11th hour.”
He added “You waited till (sic) your hit piece was done and now you just need to say you gave me a fair chance to speak even though you have no interest in the truth and your article is already written”.
Kareem Daniel Leaving Disney After Bob Iger Reassumes Role as Company CEO
“This is a time of enormous change and challenges in our industry, and our work will also focus on creating a more efficient and cost-effective structure.”
Bob Iger is back as the CEO of Disney, and one of the first moves he made was to announce a company restructure. Part of that restructure includes the departure of Kareem Daniel, the chair of Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution (DMED).
DMED was formed under now-previous CEO Bob Chapek. The division manages Disney’s streaming services which includes ESPN+.
Daniel was considered one of those closest to Chapek. Iger announced Daniel’s departure in a memo to employees at DMED.
“It is my intention to restructure things in a way that honors and respects creativity as the heart and soul of who we are,” Iger said in the memo. “As you know, this is a time of enormous change and challenges in our industry, and our work will also focus on creating a more efficient and cost-effective structure.”
ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro will join other company leaders in coming up with a new company structure that Iger hopes “puts more decision-making back in the hands of our creative teams and rationalizes costs.”
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He works full-time as a multimedia specialist at the Virginia State Corporation Commission, while also putting in part-time work for News Radio WRVA and 910 The Fan in Richmond. Additionally, you can find Jordan contributing coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly and ABC 8News. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.