ESPN’s 10th NBA Draft Broadcast an Historic Affair

It was an historic night for the University of Kentucky at last night’s NBA Draft as, for the first time in league history, players from the same school went 1-2. When Anthony Davis went to the New Orleans Hornets and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was selected by the Charlotte Bobcats, ESPN was there to broadcast the moment.

For the 10th consecutive year, ESPN televised live coverage of the NBA Draft; this time from the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. Working out of Game Creek’s Victory – the same production truck used by ESPN at the NBA Finals and by ABC on its Saturday night college football package – ESPN had approximately 100 staffers on site at The Rock.

A total of 16 cameras filled the arena as Rece Davis hosted from the main desk with college basketball analyst Jay Bilas, NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy, and NBA Insider Chris Broussard, while college basketball reporter Andy Katz and NBA reporter Ric Bucher provided insight as they worked the arena floor. In addition, Mark Jones conducted interviews with draftees after they left the stage and Heather Cox spoke with players and their families in the NBA Draft green room.

The production team also had two on-site reporters, with Jeannine Edwards in New Orleans with the Hornets, who had the first and 10th overall picks, and George Smith in Charlotte with the Bobcats, who held the second overall pick.

Also available were 14 video conference uplinks to various NBA host cities, utilizing the same Glowpoint technology that the network uses during the NFL Draft.

“We have the ability to interview coaches [and] GMs and integrate them into the broadcast. It adds so much for us,” says Jay Levy, senior coordinating producer on ESPN’s NBA Draft coverage. “Also similar to what the NFL Draft does, we have a setup back home [in Bristol] where we have one of our anchors, Mike Yam, conducting whatever interviews we wouldn’t be able to get into the broadcast based on timing. Everything else will be used on the digital space and also, potentially, worked into other studio shows throughout the night.”

According to Levy, over 120 potential draftees had video packages available – exactly double the amount of players that were actually selected last night. Some of the top picks had as many as three or four packages each. Live touchscreen technology was also used throughout the night and was used by Bilas to sort through his top available players.

Ed Curran, who has worked the NBA Draft the past couple of years for ESPN, directed the show while Bo Garrett (sixth draft) served as producer with Levy and Phil Dean (who produces ESPN’s NBA Draft Lottery coverage). Garrett oversaw the pick-by-pick results while Dean assisted by keeping an eye on breaking news of trades and signings. The entire production was overseen by Bob Rauscher, ESPN’s vice president of NBA Production and a veteran of the network who has been working in Bristol since ESPN’s first year.

For Levy, it was a new experience and, in many ways, a dream come true.

“I’ve been a fan from afar for a long time,” he says, “and now to be involved at this level is pretty neat.”

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