ESPN Responds To Johnson’s Departure

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson shocked the sports world this week when he announced that he had made the decision to part ways with ESPN.  He released a statement explinaing that his decision was based on his feeling that he was unable to balance his commitment to ESPN and everything else going on in his life.  He added in his statement that despite his departure, the split was amicable on both sides.  His official statement reads as follows:

“I love ESPN.  Unfortunately, due to the nature of my schedule and other commitments, I don’t feel confident that I can continue to devote the time needed to thrive in my role. I will always feel a strong connection to the ESPN family and I enjoyed working with them very much. I’d like to thank John Skipper, John Wildhack, Mark Gross, Kim Belton, Amina Hussein, Mark Summer, Adam Hertzog, Bob Rauscher, Stuart Scott, Mike Wilbon, Jon Barry, Jalen Rose, Bill Simmons, Chris Broussard and the many others at ESPN for the wonderful opportunity to talk about the game I love. They are the best in the business. “

John Wildhack, ESPN Executive VP of Production released a statement Thursday offering praise for Johnson and noting that the network has already started weighing its options for a commentator for the upcoming NBA season.  Wildhack noted in his statement:  Earvin “Magic” Johnson informed us today that he’ll no longer be part of our NBA coverage due to his other commitments. We appreciate Magic’s contributions and wish him well in his future endeavors. We are in the process of determining our NBA commentator roles for the upcoming season.

Jonson’s announcement comes only days after ESPN announced the signing of fellow NBA veteran Doug Collins to help cover its NBA broadcasts during the 2013-2014 season.  Collins is just the latest acquisition for ESPN’s NBA coverage.  A number of other veterans have already been signed, too.  More on this and other stories is available online at http://www.facebook.com/NBAonESPN and http://espn.com/nba.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Collins Signs New Multi-Year Deal With ESPN

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Another big name has inked a deal with ESPN.  Veteran NBA head coach Doug Collins has signed a deal with the “Worldwide Leader in Sports.”  Collins’ multi-year deal will have him serving as an analyst on ESPN and ABC’s NBA Countdown.  He will be in comfortable company when he starts his duties this season.  He will be working alongside fellow NBA legends Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Jalen Rose, and Bill Simmons.  The terms of Collins’ deal also will see him serve as an in-game analyst for select ESPN broadcasts.  It also includes appearances on SportsCenter ESPN Radio, ESPN.com, and other ESPN programming.

Collins was enthusiastic about signing with ESPN in a statement released this week.  “ESPN’s NBA coverage plays a leadership role in the way fans experience the sport, so I’m eager to share my basketball insights with our viewers,” he said.  “Working with Magic, Jalen, Bill and the rest of my new ESPN colleagues will be a lot of fun.”

John Wildhack, ESPN Executive VP of Production was just as pleased with the new deal.  He shared his thoughts in a prepared statement.  “Doug Collins is a one of the most respected NBA voices and we’re thrilled to have him join NBA Countdown. Collins brings a contemporary coaching perspective, which will enhance the diverse discussion on Countdown. Additionally, Michael Wilbon will remain a leading authority for the NBA on ESPN while maintaining the flexibility to increase his in-studio appearances on our important Pardon The Interruption franchise.”

Collins has quite the resume on the court.  He served eleven years as a head coach in the NBA, most recently with the Philadelphia 76ers.  He reached the NBA playoffs seven times.  As a player, he played a combined eight seasons in the ABA and NBA and is a four-time All-Star.  His new deal with ESPN isn’t his first stint in front of the camera.  He was a contributor to NBC’s NBA game coverage and Olympics coverage and has also served as a game analyst for Turner Sports.  He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.  He received the prestigious Curt Gowdy Media Award in his induction.

NBA Countdown debuts Friday, November 1st at 7pm ET during a one-hour pre-game broadcast before ESPN’s season-opening doubleheader.  The doubleheader kicks off at 8pm with a matchup of last season’s NBA Champion Miami Heat and the Brooklyn Nets.  The second game features the San Antonio Spurs, last season’s runners-up taking on the Los Angeles Lakers.  That game is currently scheduled for a 10pm ET broadcast.

More information on this and all things NBA is available online at http://www.facebook.com/NBAonESPN and http://espn.go.com/nba.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ABC, ESPN Networks Carrying Seven Playoff Games This Weekend

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

NBA fans have plenty of reason to be happy this weekend.  ABC and ESPN have seven games on tap this weekend.  Three of those games will air on ESPN Friday night beginning with a matchup between the Knicks and Celtics.  The Knicks will look to extend their two-game lead over Boston as the teams face off in game three of that series Friday night at 8pm.  It will air on ESPN and ESPN Radio affiliates across the country.  Fans can also catch the game online and via mobile access through WatchESPN and the WatchESPN app.  Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, and Heather Cox will have the call on ESPN.  Marc Kestecher and Dr. Jack Ramsey will call the game for ESPN Radio.  The game is scheduled to start at 8pm EST.      

The second of the night’s triple header sees the Spurs and Lakers face off in the third game of their series, too.  The Spurs are up two games to none in that best-of-seven series.  Injuries have plagued the Lakers, who are looking to get their footing again Friday night.  The game is scheduled to start at 10:30pm EST.  It will air live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes.  Fans can also watch the game online and on mobile devices through WatchESPN and the WatchESPN app.  Mike Tirico, Hubie Brown, and Chris Broussard will have the call on ESPN.  They will be joined by Alvaro Martin and Carlos Morales for ESPN Deportes.

Also at 10:30, the Warriors will look to break the one-game time with the Nuggets when the teams head back to Oakland.  The Warriors come into Friday’s game with some momentum.  The team as a whole shot nearly sixty-five percent and made 14 of 25 three-point shots.  Four of the team’s players scored twenty points in game two Tuesday night.  The Warriors have also outrebounded the Nuggets 91 to 71 over the course of the series’ first two games.  The Nuggets are looking to regain some footing Friday night when they are hoping to get Kenneth Faried back in the lineup after having lost him in Game 1 to a sprained ankle.  Friday’s matchup will air on ESPN2 and can be viewed online and on mobile devices through WatchESPN and the WatchESPN app.  Dave Pasch, Jon Barry, and Holly Rowe will have all the action and news throughout the game.

The weekend showcase closes out with a Sunday doubleheader pitting the Knicks and Celtics against each other again for Game Four in the teams’ best-of-seven series first.  The game will air at 1pm on ABC and on ESPN Radio affiliates across the nation.  Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Heather Cox will be back to call the action again for the game, while Marc Kestecher and Dr. Jack Ramsay will have the call for ESPN Radio. 

The day’s second game tips off at 3:30pm EST.  The Bucks are hoping to dig out of a two game hole right now with game three tonight at 7pm.  Game four will be Sunday afternoon on ABC and ESPN Deportes.  Mike Tirico, Hubie Brown, and Chris Broussard will be on hand for ESPN.  Alvaro Martin and Carlos Morales will call all the action for ESPN Deportes.  It all starts with the Kia NBA Countdown at 12:30pm EST.  Hosts Magic Johnson, Bill Simmons, Jalen Rose, and Michael Wilbon will discuss the weekend’s previous games and their implications as the NBA post season rolls on, as well as Sunday’s games on tap.  Fans can catch the Countdown on ABC.

A full schedule of the weekend’s games is available below.

Date Time (ET) Game / Commentators Networks
Fri, Apr 26 8 p.m. New York Knicks at Boston Celtics (Gm. 3)

ESPN: Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, Heather Cox

ESPN Radio: Marc Kestecher, Dr. Jack Ramsay

ESPN, ESPN Radio, WatchESPN
  10:30 p.m. San Antonio Spurs at Los Angeles Lakers (Gm. 3)

ESPN: Mike Tirico, Hubie Brown, Chris Broussard

ESPN Deportes: Alvaro Martin, Carlos Morales

ESPN, WatchESPN, ESPN Deportes
  10:30 p.m. Denver Nuggets at Golden State Warriors (Gm. 3)

ESPN: Dave Pasch, Jon Barry, Holly Rowe

ESPN2, WatchESPN
Sat, Apr 27 7 p.m. Indiana Pacers at Atlanta Hawks (Gm. 3)

ESPN: Mark Jones, Doris Burke, Holly Rowe

ESPN, WatchESPN
  9:30 p.m. Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets (Gm. 3)

ESPN: Dave Pasch, Jon Barry, Samantha Ponder

ESPN Radio: Kevin Calabro, Chris Mullin

ESPN Deportes: Alvaro Martin, Carlos Morales

ESPN, ESPN Radio, WatchESPN, ESPN Deportes
Sun, Apr 28 12:30 p.m. KIA NBA Countdown

Magic Johnson, Bill Simmons, Jalen Rose, Michael Wilbon

ABC
  1 p.m. New York Knicks at Boston Celtics (Gm. 4)

ESPN: Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, Heather Cox

ESPN Radio: Marc Kestecher, Dr. Jack Ramsay

ABC, ESPN Radio
  3:30 p.m. Miami Heat at Milwaukee Bucks (Gm. 4)

ESPN: Mike Tirico, Hubie Brown, Chris Broussard

ESPN Deportes: Alvaro Martin, Carlos Morales

ABC, ESPN Deportes

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN Debuting New NBA Countdown Set

ESPN is set to debut a brand new set for its NBA broadcasts.  The new Kia NBA Countdown set will debut Christmas Day at 2:30pm EST.  When it debuts, the Kia NBA Countdown set will be the largest set at ESPN’s Los Angeles Production Center.  It will include: six new automated, mobile video monitors, a total of four LED monitors that measure eight feet by five feet each, a larger oval shaped desk and an LED surround curtain that changes color throughout the show.  The set’s new desk was designed with the intent of creating a more free-flowing, conversational style show.

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Along with the new physical changes, audiences will also notice the studios massive amount of space.  The increased space will allow the hosts—Magic Johnson, Michael Wilbon, and new additions Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose—more room to move throughout the show.  Fans will also notice more video to complement the discussions raised during the Countdown.  The new set and new co-hosts will debut Christmas Day just before the start of ABC’s mega-double header that starts with a bi-coastal matchup facing the Knicks against the host Lakers.  The second game of the day pits the Thunder against the Heat in a matchup of last season’s NBA Finals.  That game is set to start at 5:30pm EST.

Fans who miss the new set on the Countdown need not worry as they’ll get to see it when Johnson and company re-join audiences during half time of both games and between games to offer their thoughts on the games.  Should audiences be travelling or with family and friends on Christmas, there are no worries there.  The Kia NBA Countdown airs every Wednesday and Friday on ESPN and on ABC every Sunday before the network’s weekly game.

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New Frontline Feature Examines The AIDS Epidemic In Black America

Courtesy: PBS/WGBH/BlackPublicMedia.org, Ford Foundation, MAC AIDS Fund, Corporation For Public Broadcasting/MacArthur Foundation/Reva & David Logan/Park Foundation/Frontline Journalism Fund

AIDS has devastated America since it first began appearing in the early 1980s.  When it first became known, it was thought to be a disease only of homosexual males.  Since that time though, knowledge of the disease and how to treat it has broadened.  Despite that knowledge, AIDS continues to ravage one group more than any other.  And it isn’t the gay community.  As presented by PBS’ Frontline, the community that is still being ravaged by the AIDS epidemic is the African American community.

In its new special, Frontline examines in an unbiased manner, the spread of AIDS in the black community.  It examines the factors that have led to the spread of the disease and the stigma attached to those who have contracted it, both straight and homosexual.  The stories told firsthand by those who contracted the disease are both powerful and moving.  And learning how widespread the disease is in the Black community is just as eye opening.  Through the program’s near two-hour run time, there is a message of hope that it can at least be reduced and slowed if not wiped out.

The stories told firsthand by those who contracted the AIDS virus come from members of every walk of the African American community.  On one hand, there is Nel.  Nel is sixty-three years old and a grandmother.  Nel married a deacon in her church who it turned out had lied to her about being HIV positive.  Even upon being confronted by her, he still lied about it.  Another story is that of a young woman who ended up contracting the disease from a man after having unprotected sex with a man she thought was Mr. Right.  And in another, audiences are presented the case of Jovante.  Jovante is a football player who ended up contracting the disease from his partner.  It shows the far reaching impact of the disease and the personal emotion felt by each victim. 

The feeling that each victim experiences illustrate the stigma still attached to the disease even three decades after it first appeared.  That stigma crossed lines of straight and gay.  Even more interesting is that the stigma itself was more self-imposed than having been placed on them by those around the subjects interviewed.  That is one of the most interesting aspects of this documentary.  That victims regardless of straight or gay would self-impose the stigma is a powerful statement.  Some claimed that they didn’t talk about it because they believe the stigma.  But the vibe of the general public was not one of subjugation, but of acceptance.  That comparison is subtle.  But it’s more than enough to generate lots of discussions.

Also sure to create is a segment of the program highlighting former President George W. Bush’s pledge to send aid to Africa to help fight the AIDS epidemic there, too.  It provides the clip from Bush’s State of The Union address in 2003 in which he publicly pledged millions in aid to fight the disease throughout Africa’s nations.  Whether political or otherwise, this is a moment that is certain to lead to discussions, too.  The inclusion of interviews with NBA Magic Johnson will lead to just as many discussions.  It’s interesting the view that some developed on AIDS after seeing that Johnson recovered.  It actually created a hope.  And that sense of hope is what viewers are left with by the program’s end.

While there is still work to be done in terms of education and other aspects, there is hope that cases of AIDS can be vastly reduced if not wiped out with proper education among America’s Black communities.  The education must be spread to African Americans of all ages.  From education about abstinence and contraception to general knowledge about AIDS, it can combine to finally lead to the endgame in question for Aids in Black America.

Endgame:  Aids in Black America is available now on DVD.  It can be ordered direct via PBS’ online store, http://www.shoppbs.org.

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