After Sandy, NBA on TNT Looks Forward to Packed Season
Following the exclusive, season-opening matchup between the Boston Celtics and defending NBA Champion Miami Heat on Tuesday Oct. 30, TNT’s production crew and talent — including Marv Albert, Steve Kerr, and Craig Sager — were scheduled to hop a plane from Miami to New York to cover the Brooklyn Nets’ home debut at Barclays Center on Thursday.
Until they checked the forecast.
Days before the Celtics and Heat tipped off in South Florida, TNT was already in preparation for Hurricane Sandy, sending additional crew and announcers to New York over the weekend in case flights were canceled.
“We had a contingency plan in place,” explains Craig Barry, SVP of production/executive creative director, Turner Sports. “We had an entire SWAT crew up there. We had gotten the trucks up there prior to the hurricane hitting, so they were up there and ready. Then, we flew in additional crew, including announcers, on Saturday and Sunday, just to stand by if [we] couldn’t get the crew and the talent up from Miami.”
Despite the best efforts of the network and teams to prepare (the Nets moved team practices to Barclays Center after their training facility in New Jersey lost power), the NBA opted to postpone the game after Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s recommendation on Wednesday. The game has since been rescheduled for Monday Nov. 26.
Reflects Barry, “It’s a small task compared to what everybody else was dealing with there, for sure.”
New Look and Sound
Coming off its highest-rated and most-viewed NBA regular season ever last year, TNT exclusively tipped off the NBA season with a doubleheader featuring Celtics at Heat, followed by Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Lakers. In the first matchup, TNT outfitted Paul Pierce and LeBron James with player microphones. The network plans to increase its use of player mics, deploying one player mic and an additional camera to each team for selected games.
“Whoever’s wearing a mic is isolated [with the additional camera], so, when they are talking, we make sure that we have a camera on them, and then we’ll build packages,” says Barry. “We don’t actually roll it in live. We’ll build packages of the most relevant sound that extends the storyline and roll them between breaks, coming in and out of breaks, where we feel that it helps the storytelling.”
After the New Year, TNT will replace the three low cameras — two low baseline and one midcourt — with super-slow-motion cameras, keeping the total camera complement at 10 (for those games without additional cameras isolating miked players).
In effect immediately, however, is a revamped insert look for the entire NBA on TNT package, including an updated scorebug and lower thirds.
From Opening Day to All-Star
Entering its 29th year of NBA coverage, Turner Sports will offer a 52-game NBA schedule on TNT for the 2012-13 regular season, including 20 Thursday-night doubleheaders. The network will serve as the exclusive home of NBA All-Star 2013 in Houston and will also exclusively televise the NBA Eastern Conference Finals this season.
Albert, who called play-by-play for Heat-Celtics, will be joined in the booth this season by analyst Steve Kerr, with Craig Sager reporting. Kevin Harlan, who provided commentary for Lakers-Mavericks, will join forces with analyst Reggie Miller and reporter David Aldridge.
The one-hour TNT NBA Tip-Off pregame show will be hosted by Johnson, with analysts Barkley, Kenny Smith, and Shaquille O’Neal. The studio team will also provide the Halftime Report and Inside the NBA postgame show. Besides anchoring Inside the NBA on TNT, Matt Winer will anchor NBA TV’s pregame coverage from Turner Studios in Atlanta with analysts Chris Webber and Rick Fox.
In addition to his analyst duties, Barkley will call at least one game a month from the booth, including San Antonio Spurs-Heat on Nov. 29 and Lakers-