NBA Finals Game Three Tips Off AT 9pm Tonight On ABC

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

The 2014 NBA Finals are “heating up” after Miami evened its series against the San Antonio Spurs Sunday. The Heat defeated the Spurs Sunday 98-96, tying the series at one game each. Game three will be broadcast exclusively on ABC tonight at 9pm ET. Mike Breen will have the call for tonight’s game. He will be joined by analysts Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson. Reporter Doris Burke and officiating analyst Steve Javie will also be on hand for commentary.

Broadcast of tonight’s Game Three will be preceded by NBA Countdown live from the American Airlines Arena in Miami at 8:30pm ET. Sage Steel will anchor the broadcast and will be joined by analysts Bill Simmons, Jalen Rose, and Doug Collins.

Along with its broadcast on ABC, tonight’s broadcast of Game Three will be simulcast on ESPN Radio affiliates nationwide. Kevin Calabro will have the call. He will be joined by analyst Hubie Brown and reporter Marc Stein for additional insight throughout the game. ESPN Radio’s pre-game coverage begins at 8pm ET. Marc Kestecher and analyst Jon Barry will contribute to that broadcast. ESPN Deportes will carry tonight’s broadcast of Game Three as well. Alvaro Martin and Carlos Morales will have commentary for ESPN Deportes. .

Game Four of the 2014 NBA finals will be simulcast on ABC, ESPN Radio and ESPN Deportes Thursday, June 12th at 9pm ET. Game Five is scheduled for Sunday, June 15th at 8pm ET. Both games will be preceded by NBA Countdown half an hour before tipoff.

All games of the NBA Finals broadcast on ABC are also available online through most internet and mobile internet platforms including: Xbox, Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV via WatchESPN. There are also special simulcasts on ESPN3.

More information on coverage of the 2014 NBA Finals 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.

Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson Talk NBA Finals & More

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN analysts Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson talked to the media yesterday about today’s start of the NBA Finals. The duo discussed not only this year’s finals matchup between the Spurs and Heat, but also the impact of another championship on either team and the role of the Eastern Conference on the Heat’s place in the NBA Finals this year among much more. The following is the complete transcript from the conversation that the pair had with members of the media in anticipation of tonight’s opening game of the 2014 NBA Finals.  Game one tips off tonight at 9pm ET on ABC.  The game will be preceded by NBA Countdown at 8:30pm ET.

Q. Could you have thought that the Heat could have gotten back here without contributions from their two new guys Michael Beasley and Greg Oden? As you know they’ve gotten very little from either during this run. 

 

JACKSON:  I would say to that answer, yes, they certainly anticipated both of those guys playing some sort of role.  But at the end of the day, they brought back the nucleus, and when you bring back the big three in James and Wade and Bosh, and you bring back the same mentality, and obviously some of the guys off the bench that have proven, that are champions.  Erik Spoelstra has done an outstanding job.  I would say, yes, because at the end of the day they’re built defensively, and they’re built with some special talent that puts them in position to, in spite of who they rotate as far as role players, be in the mix year in and year out.

 

VAN GUNDY:  I concur with Mark.  I think there are a couple factors.  I think we have to change the big three moniker to the big four because I think Spoelstra definitely belongs in there.  They have four guys who could be going to the Hall of Fame as players, Ray Allen and Bosh and Wade and James.  But Spoelstra is absolutely vital and instrumental to their success and he’s going to be there as well.  You add to that the weakened state of the Eastern Conference. They really weren’t tested.  Throw out the playoffs and so they’re here once again.

 

You know, Beasley in particular I thought might find his way onto the court, but Rashard Lewis has given good minutes.  At times Battier has given them good minutes, but he hasn’t been able to find his way consistently on the floor.

 

Q. I was wondering if either of you have any interest in the Lakers head coaching position, and if they’ve reached out to you about it? 

 

VAN GUNDY:  I found that it’s in everybody’s best interest never to comment on jobs.  I don’t think it does the team any good or the individual coach.  If teams ever want to state what their plans are before they’ve named a coach, that’s up to them, but I think it’s best that I don’t get involved with that.

 

JACKSON:  I totally agree.  Obviously, it’s an incredible job, and I’m sure they’ll pick an outstanding coach to lead them forward.

 

Q. Could you look into your crystal balls and speculate on what might happen if the Spurs either win or don’t win this or the same question with the Heat.  How does the outcome impact how these things might be made up next year? 

 

JACKSON:  I’m tired of looking in the crystal ball when it comes to the Spurs.  Not just me, but we’ve all been wrong for quite a while now.  We had them dead a couple years ago.  We had them dead after The Finals last year.  Truth be told, they’re going to be relevant and be around for the foreseeable future because they’re playing the right way, led by an incredible coach, an all-time great coach – not just in basketball but in sports in general – a bunch of Hall of Famers, and they just find ways to win ballgames.  So they’ll be around.

 

I think when you talk about the Heat, I think it depends on those guys and the decision they’re going to make after the season.  When you talk about Pat Riley and that organization, when you talk about Erik Spoelstra, I’m sure they’re going to, whatever the decisions are by the players, find a way to regroup, come back, and be just as strong, if not stronger.

 

VAN GUNDY:  Yeah, I can’t envision going to four straight Finals and any of the better three players deciding that they’re better served someplace else.  The Eastern Conference is definitely the place to be right now if you’re a great player because the road is just a lot easier to navigate.  So I can’t see them willingly changing their path.  And San Antonio, I think the Kawhi Leonard-George Hill trade got them back to where they are now.  They’re a little small at that position.  Now not only did they have the courage to make that trade, then they picked the right guy, and he has performed fantastically over his short career, and along with the depth they’ve added, and the great, great coaching, they’ve been able to surround their three best players with terrific players, and it’s going to be fun to watch.

 

Q. I know the word legacy gets thrown around a lot.  But how do you view a third championship for LeBron James on an historical plane if the Heat end up winning the series?

 

VAN GUNDY:  I think it would be a terrific accomplishment.  Winning a championship is hard, being in The Finals is hard, but a lot about how much you win is who you play with and who you play against at any particular time in your career.  So I don’t look at his career in Miami as being any more successful than his time in Cleveland.  He’s just surrounded with better players, weaker conference.  I think this guy is an all-time great.  I think one of his greatest accomplishments is taking a very average to below-average Cleveland Cavaliers team to The Finals, I think, it was in 2007.  I think he won 66 games with a starting lineup in Cleveland that I’m not sure would have won 36 games without him.

 

So to me, both places have been ultra-successful. I don’t think a guy’s greatness is directly tied to his number of championships won because a lot of it comes down to circumstance.

 

JACKSON:  I totally agree.  I look at LeBron James, and he’s an all-time great basketball player.  I said it, and it’s documented that my opinion is he’s one of the best forwards that ever played the game.  I really am not a guy to look and see championships to find your greatness.  Because I, like Jeff, agree the fact is who you play with and who you play against. At the end of the day, the guy has played at an incredible level for a long time, and it does not seem the end is near anytime soon.

 

Q. Mark, can you comprehend what Jason Kidd and maybe Derek Fisher is pondering going straight from a playing career to a coach?  Would you have been able to do that a few years ago after you retired?  And are you sure – are you convinced you want to coach again, or are you good where you’re at?  What is your state right now, now that you’ve signed with ESPN? 

 

JACKSON:  Well, I do look forward to coaching one day if it presents itself again.  Right now I’m having a blast being back with my crew.  I’m fortunate and thrilled to death to be back.  If the opportunity presents itself, I look forward to coaching again.  If I end my career the way it ended and I continue to call games, I’m fine with that, just to clear that up also.  I’m having the time of my life calling these games and being back with this incredible group.

 

To answer the first part of the question, I believe I would have been able to do it. Unfortunately, I did not have an opportunity.  But as far as players today, obviously Jason Kidd had success and continued to get better.  I think his future is extremely bright.  So I believe that the point is picking the right person. So I believe you can do it and you can be successful.  It’s important to make sure that you pick the right person.  I don’t think just anybody can do it, but the right person can be successful.

 

Q. Jeff, you’ve alluded to the weakened state of the Eastern Conference a couple times now.  I’m curious if either of you think that might affect the Heat’s standing when you look at that team and what they’ve accomplished among some of the all-time greats?  You know the Bulls dynasty very well.  Where does the Heat as a team and what they’ve accomplished kind of rank with some of the all-time great teams? 

 

VAN GUNDY:  I hate to compare because ultimately people will read into it that you’re diminishing one at the expense of the other.  I would just say the Bulls teams back in their heyday had to go through some monster teams to win it all, some really incredible teams.  I think it’s hard to compare teams from different eras.  But to me, Jordan’s Bulls could compete against any of the great teams that were ever put up.  I think they were that good, and they had to go through some great other teams to win those championships.

 

JACKSON:  For me watching Jordan’s Bulls, and obviously the Celtics with Bird and McHale and Parish, and those guys, D.J., watching Ainge and the great Showtime Lakers, those were incredible teams.  I look at this Heat team, and I, like Jeff, don’t diminish what they’ve been able to do.  Obviously, the competition is not the same as far as the teams that they’ve faced but you go through who you have to go through.  They’ve done it; they’ve done it with class, and at an incredible level, so I don’t think it diminishes their accomplishments at all.

 

Q. I saw a story on the website that refers to the 1994 NBA Finals 20 years ago as being sort of a forgotten Finals.  I presume part of that is because of the O.J. Chase, and part of it may be because of other factors.  Do you agree with that thinking that the Rockets Knicks series has been lost to history for circumstances that have nothing to do with basketball? 

 

VAN GUNDY:  Well, for me, it’s not lost on me.  I think about that, maybe not every day, but most days.  I’ve talked about this to Mark a lot because, to me, you’ll never convince me that those Knicks teams from when Pat Riley came to when he left to go to Miami – even though they didn’t accomplish winning a championship – that the players there weren’t champions, because they gave championship energy and effort and enthusiasm every day.  Unfortunately, they came up a few plays short.

 

But when you’re talking about Olajuwon in his prime, he’s as great to me as anybody that’s ever played.  Ewing didn’t match up a lot with Olajuwon in that series because we played him single coverage, and they doubled Ewing on every catch.  But it was still having two great, great competitors, players, humble people going at each other in that series.

 

I don’t remember anybody talking about O.J. in our locker room and those circumstances.  I think the nation was captivated by that.  I think the teams were locked in very much to that series.  It was hard fought.  Houston got home court.  They beat us both times in the regular season, and that gave them the advantage to have home court, and they made a couple more plays than we did, and I’m not bitter.

 

Q. Do you have any regrets about your stint with the Warriors?  Jeff, how does it feel having Mark back in the booth with you guys?  Obviously, it cuts into your time.

 

JACKSON:  Well, listen, there are no regrets.  I think about the three years there.  I think about the opportunity that was presented to me by the ownership, by management.  I think about the relationship with incredible players and what they were able to accomplish in three years and where that organization was and where it is today – you got a lot to be proud of.  Ownership, management, players, fans – it’s in a great place.  There are absolutely no regrets.

 

VAN GUNDY:  Before I get to what you were asking me, I would say the unfortunate thing when change comes about whether it’s players or coaches in the NBA, is more focus is given to how things ended than what was accomplished during their time together.  I think it speaks volumes that everybody wants to talk about how it ended between Mark and Golden State instead of taking a look at and examining Mark’s impact there in that he came into a team that, minus minor blips of success had been historically bad for two decades.  And he came in there and remade them.  Who would have thought Golden State would become an elite defensive team?

 

Defense in this league is about coaching and the ability to protect the basket, and I was utterly amazed how quickly Mark transformed them from a porous defense into an elite defense, and taking them to 47, 51 wins.  They hadn’t won 45-plus games in back-to-back years in forever.

 

So my focus when I look at that is what was accomplished versus how it ended.  Now, to get to your question about less air time, basketball fans in America are applauding the three-man booth so they don’t have to listen to my inane rants.  And believe me, no one is upset, myself included, that I do less talking.

 

Q. I know both of you have said that you don’t want to discuss any team’s interest in you or your interest in any job openings, and I definitely respect that.  But I did want to ask you, there’s been a groundswell from a vocal segment of Knicks fans that Phil Jackson reach out to you guys for the Knicks coaching vacancy, I just wanted to know if you had gotten wind of that at all, and how you react to that?

 

VAN GUNDY:  When you spend 13 years with an organization like I did, which gave you your first chance of being in the NBA, your first chance of being with a championship-caliber team, and your first chance to be a head coach, you’ll always be a Knick.

 

So there are a few box scores I check every morning right when I get up.  It’s obviously wherever my brother is coaching, Chicago, Charlotte, Golden State, the Rockets and the Knicks.  Those are my guys and those are my teams.  I’m always going to have great, great feelings for the Knicks, hoping that they have great success and really appreciate whenever I am back in New York, how positive the fans were to me when I was just getting started.  So I’ll always be so appreciative of how they treated me.

 

JACKSON:  Obviously, you hear the talk, even if it’s the New York Post reporting my inner circle made a statement, and I have no clue because my wife and kids have not spoken to the Post, so just to counter that.  It’s an incredible job.  It’s an incredible opportunity.  And I’m sure that Phil Jackson will do an outstanding job of finding the right coach to get that organization and that team headed back in the right situation.

 

Q. You guys mentioned some of those old Bulls teams.  It’s been 30 years since that ’84 draft that Michael Jordan came in.  Just wanted your thoughts and memories on facing him, and particularly at this time of year how good he could be.

 

JACKSON:  He’s the best I’ve ever faced, and he’s the best I’ve ever seen.  Flat out, there were times when Jeff can recall he single handedly beat us with the Knicks when other guys were not ready at that particular time.  He propelled them to be great and propelled them to championship level.  Absolutely incredible, fierce competitor.  Invited a winning spirit, and did everything on the floor to attempt to tear the heart out and put daggers into his opposition, and you can see the impact that he’s had not just in that time, but even in watching players after him, how they attempted to duplicate or put some of the things in their game that he had mastered.  But those were great Bulls teams.  Like I said, there are times when he single handedly put them in position to win it all.

 

VAN GUNDY:  Yeah, we used to kiddingly refer to as the triangle with the 23 in the triangle because that’s what made it run.  I just went back and looked at his numbers.  I think sometimes with great players you forget the longer they’re out how great they were.  I mean, this guy played huge minutes with the Washington Wizards when he was 39, and averaged over 20 points a game.  Played all 82 games, I think, when he was 38, averaged 22.6.  Then the run he had with the Bulls, I mean, this is legendary stuff.

 

But if you don’t take a peak back every once in a while, you can start to forget just how great he was.  To me, his post-up game and the triangle, how he got into the post, out of the triangle, to me was the hardest part to guard.  We didn’t have big two guards at that time in New York, but we did have big point guards.  We had Mark, we had Doc Rivers, and we had Derek Harper.  Starts with a great competitor, add the two, but we had no answer for him in the post.  Defensively it wasn’t an every play mentality, but he had the ability, along with Pippen and Grant and Rodman to turn it up such that it was    they could make it very difficult for you to find good shots.

 

So Jordan to me, it’s like Mark said, I don’t like to compare eras because I didn’t see some of the guys play live.  But with my own two eyes I loved going into Chicago Stadium, the old Chicago Stadium, because you came out of that tunnel three and a half or whatever it was, and you knew it was on.  In a great atmosphere against the greatest to ever play during my time in the NBA.  You know, it was an honor to be on the same floor.

 

Q. It’s been mentioned the East is much weaker than the West this year.  Do you think either team has an advantage?  The Heat have had a fairly easy pass through the playoffs so far versus the Spurs who have been much more tested in the regular season and the playoffs.  Do you think it gives either team an advantage?

 

JACKSON:  I think that’s a great question.  I think the Spurs being battle tested this year certainly puts them in position.  But I don’t look at it as just this year.  I think both teams are prepared for this moment because of their history, not just the history of 82 games and a playoff round, but the history – playoffs, battle-tested, championship.  So I don’t think it plays a role in who gets the advantage.  Both teams are prepared, both teams are ready, both teams are extremely well coached, and I think it sets up for an outstanding NBA Finals.

 

VAN GUNDY:  I would agree.  I think so much of it depends on Parker’s health.  If he’s healthy, obviously, the Spurs have a great opportunity.  If he’s hobbled, I think Miami has a better opportunity.  I think both teams are missing some people who had a major impact on last year’s series.  Gary Neal had some great moments for San Antonio.  Mike Miller, obviously, had some great moments, had a great run for Miami.

 

I think both teams are ready, like Mark said.  I don’t think either team has an advantage in that way.  I just think it’s going to be close, hard-fought, a tip of the ball here, a missed free throw there or an injury that crops up or doesn’t heal right could be the difference in who wins it.

 

Q. Do you think the Heat will have a problem with the Spurs bench with the way Diaw and Ginobili have been playing in the playoffs this year? 

 

JACKSON:  I believe that the Spurs bench creates match-up problems every single night the way that they’ve played all season long, the way that you cannot identify one guy that comes in and impacts a basketball game.  They do a great job of understanding their roles, being prepared and playing within a system.  I think the difference this year is Ginobili’s fresh body, the way he’s playing.  Diaw is certainly playing at a high level.  I think Patty Mills gives them a guy that can continue to play pick and roll off the bench, Belinelli’s ability to shoot the basketball.

 

But I think the Heat also have guys that are playing at a high level coming in off the bench.  It was amazing to watch Ray Allen this late in his career still playing with fresh, young legs and a live body.  So I think it’s going to be a chess match as far as both benches in the level that they play.  They very well could, when you talk about the benches, decide who wins this series.

 

VAN GUNDY:  I love how both teams are constructed.  They surround their best players with shooting and passing so that their best players have enough room to operate.  You look at San Antonio, the floor is spread and they may have weaknesses in some areas, but their guys can shoot and pass.  Same with Miami coming off the bench.  I love Norris Cole, his competitive streak.  I love how Battier comes off and can hit timely threes.  Ray Allen, Mark spoke about, one of the great shooters that’s ever played.

 

You need to have a team that fits together well, and both teams played beautiful offense because they have Hall of Fame, first-option players surrounded by skilled, smart shooting at the other positions.  I think that’s why this Finals is going to be absolutely beautiful basketball viewing for the fans.

 

Q. I wondered if you guys thought LeBron James was a better player this season than he was last season? 

 

VAN GUNDY:  I think you would actually have to coach him and watch every possession to really know that.  I think he’s been great from probably his second year on in this league, and he’s had incremental, steady improvement.  But at this date, I think it would be miniscule improvements and Erik Spoelstra would have to be the one to decide if he’s taken a dip in certain areas or he’s upgraded other areas.  That would be hard for me to be perceptive enough to see.

 

JACKSON:  I totally agree with Jeff.  He’s in rare air, and if you look at how great he’s been throughout the course of his career, to me it’s tough to say if he’s better this year than last year.  I just know he’s still great and he’s still playing at a level that we’ve only seen a couple of people play at in the history of this game.

 

Q. People always make a big deal with the idea of coaching in New York, and it takes a certain type of guy.  You guys worked at other places too.  And Steve Kerr came close to getting the job, a guy that got close to getting the job, a guy with no connection to New York other than Phil Jackson, and same thing with Derek Fisher.  Do we make too much of it?  Is it a little different in New York with all the demands, whether it’s from within the organization, with the media? 

 

VAN GUNDY:  I don’t know if too much is made about it, but I do believe that New York, their fan base, the media coverage helps a coach coach his team well.  I think there is a misnomer that New York demands someone famous.  I mean, I just don’t believe that.  I think they embrace – New York embraces, to me, everybody that works hard, competes, shows confidence in what they do and fights for their team, whether it’s player, coach, management person, owner, whatever it is.

 

So I think this idea to be a star before you come in there to either play or coach is wrong.  I think New York fans have a patience to allow someone to develop and get better.  I’ve always thought that the thinking of them having to win right away, and they wouldn’t undertake a rebuilding plan, New York fans – I’ve always disagreed with that as well.  I think they’re bright and they understand where a team is at at any particular time.  But they do want to see progress, and they want to see effort, and they want to see a combative spirit on the floor.  If you do that, I think you’ll be appreciated.

 

JACKSON:  Obviously, Jeff can answer the question better from a head coaching aspect in New York City, but as a kid that grew up in New York City and with the Knicks, everybody’s not made for New York City, whether you’re in management, whether you’re playing, whether you’re coaching.  I can remember as a kid watching very good to great players play other places, be traded to the Knicks and not be the same player, whereas some propelled when they got the opportunity to put on a Knicks uniform.  It’s something about the fans.  It’s something about the pressure.  It’s something about the media.

 

So to be quite honest, everybody is not built for it.  It’s a different animal.  It’s a different monster.  It takes special personality and a person understanding the things that come into play to a tee.  I thought, obviously I’m biased, but I thought Jeff did an incredible job juggling all of them during his time as head coach of the Knicks, but everybody’s not capable or qualified to do just that.

 

Q. You had a nice debate going about the Greg Oden, Kevin Durant draft class, do you think we’ll see more of that during The Finals?  And do you think you’ll fill in for Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless on First Take

 

VAN GUNDY:  I can say that they broke the mold with those two guys, so there is no replacing those two.  But I would say this.  Mark and I agree on everything, basically, except what we don’t agree with which is about everything too.  I think we even agreed on that, but got bogged down in semantics.  I just, the idea that because everybody would have taken Oden first wouldn’t have made it the right selection.

 

Durant from his physical, to his great career, hey, you make mistakes in the Draft, and Oklahoma City was the beneficiary of a mistake by Portland.  You know, he’s proven out to be – I think he’s going to be one of the all-time, all-time greats.  I’m not sure what we were arguing about, but I remember Mark was wrong.

 

JACKSON:  Well, I will say that Stephen A. and Skip do an outstanding job, and they’re enjoyable to watch, but they do have substitutes so I think it would be a great opportunity.

 

What you see with Jeff and I, the thing I love about it is we don’t create the moment.  Sitting there talking with a mic, you get the same thing if you sat with us at a restaurant.  We’re going to grab different topics, we’re going to have different opinions, we’re going to honestly and respectfully agree or disagree, and it’s going to be entertaining.

 

So the thing I love about it is I was raised in a household that way, and Jeff is like family to me, so it’s something I truly enjoy doing.  I’m sure you’ll see – who knows what the topic will be, but you’ll certainly see plenty of that starting Game One.

 

Q. How useful a motivation is it to the Spurs to look back 12 months ago to what happened in The Finals?  As a coach, how would you channel that correctly to benefit the team? 

 

VAN GUNDY:  I think too much is made about last year and the motivation it provides for this year.  You don’t get to this point if you need some outside force to motivate you.  I also think Duncan’s quote about they’re going to,  I forget the exact words, but they’re going to do better and win this year, like that’s going to motivate LeBron James and Dwyane Wade like they were sitting there in the need of some motivation from the outside, external motivation.  I don’t think you need to channel anything.  I think both teams are ready.  Both teams are great, great teams.  I think the games and the script has yet to be written, but I think it’s going to be an interesting one.

 

JACKSON:  I believe your question was geared towards the Spurs, so that’s the way I’ll answer it.  But I believe that you don’t get caught up in what happened yesterday, meaning last year in The Finals, if you’re the Spurs.  They’ve already put together an incredible season post last year’s Finals experience.  So, my mindset would be don’t get caught up in yesterday and lose sight of the now.

 

The bottom line is they have an opportunity, and they are back in position to win a championship.  That’s old news and let’s move forward.  They’ve done an incredible job, and I think that’s been their mindset the entire season, and that’s why they’re in this position again.

 

Q. What do you both feel are the main differences between last year’s Heat and Spurs teams and this year’s and what do you think will be different in the series? 

 

VAN GUNDY:  I think Ginobili and Wade’s health are better, Parker’s health is not as good.  Both are missing shooting that had an impact on the series.  Neal for San Antonio, Miller for the Heat.  And I think to me the Kawhi Leonard-LeBron James match-up becomes even more fascinating the second time around because we know where James is at.  We don’t know where Leonard is going to reach.  But when you look at his demeanor, his improving skillset, this guy has a chance to be very, very, very good.  I love watching him compete against James.  So that’s still to me the best part of this series.

 

JACKSON:  I agree with Jeff.  I think the health of Wade and Ginobili will play a huge factor.  They’re at a different place right now.  I think the difference is the role players of San Antonio.  They’ve enhanced, like I said earlier, difference is having a guy like Patty Mills who really was a third point guard last year, played a huge part and had a great year for them in his ability to play out of pick and rolls.  Going and getting Belinelli, another guy that can stretch the floor and play out the pick and roll.  Last year pretty much Ginobili was the impact player off the bench creating offense.  This year it’s other guys, and they’ve got live weapons all around the floor.

 

With the Heat, it’s just Wade is playing at a high-level right now, and it takes the pressure off of LeBron to pretty much carry them.  I think that’s a huge difference.

Audiences that might not be able to catch tonight’s game on ABC aren’t out of luck.  The game will also be available on ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes, ESPN3 and WatchESPN.

 

More information on the ESPN family of networks’ coverage of the 2014 NBA Finals 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.

ABC, ESPN Release NBA Finals Broadcast Schedule

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ABC and ESPN will broadcast the entire NBA Eastern Conference Finals.

Officials with both networks have announced that the Best-Of-Seven series between the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers will be broadcast between the two networks beginning this Sunday, May 18th. ABC will carry Game on Sunday afternoon with tipoff at 3:15pm ET live from the Banker’s Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Game One will be preceded by NBA Countdown at 3pm ET. Mike Breen will anchor Sunday’s opening game. He will be joined by analyst Jeff Van Gundy and reporter Doris Burke. The trio will handle the entire series. Sage Steel will anchor NBA Coutndown. Analysts Bill Simmons, Jalen Rose, and Doug Collins will be on hand as well for additional commentary. All other NBA Countdown broadcasts will air at 7pm ET on ESPN.

Spanish-speaking audiences will be able to catch the NBA Eastern Conference Finals on ESPN Deportes. Alvaro Martin and Carlos Morales will have the call for the series. Claudia Trejos and Sebastian Martinez Christensen will anchor ESPN Deportes’ pre-game and halftime broadcasts.

ESPN Radio will carry both the Eastern and Western Conference finals nationally. Marc Kestecher and analyst Jon Barry will handle broadcast duties for ESPN Radio’s coverage of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals. Kevin Calabro and Hubrie Brown will have the call for the Western Conference Finals.

Fans around the world can catch both the Eastern and Western Conference Finals via ESPN International. The Eastern Conference Finals will be able to be seen in South America, Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Oceania. The Western Conference Finals will be available throughout Oceania. The complete NBA Finals broadcast schedule is listed below.

2014 Eastern Conference Finals and NBA Countdown schedule:

Date Time (ET) Telecast Network(s)
Sun, May 18 3 p.m. NBA Countdown ABC, WatchABC
  3:30 p.m. Game One: Miami Heat at Indiana Pacers ABC, ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes, WatchABC, ESPN3
Tues, May 20 7 p.m. Kia NBA Countdown ESPN, WatchESPN
  8 p.m. 2014 NBA Draft Lottery ESPN, WatchESPN
  8:30 p.m. Game Two: Miami Heat at Indiana Pacers ESPN, ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes, WatchESPN
Sat, May 24 7:30 p.m. Kia NBA Countdown ESPN, WatchESPN
  8:30 p.m. Game Three: Indiana Pacers at Miami Heat ESPN, ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes, WatchESPN
Mon, May 26 7:30 p.m. Kia NBA Countdown ESPN, WatchESPN
  8:30 p.m. Game Four: Indiana Pacers at Miami Heat ESPN, ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes, WatchESPN
Wed, May 28 7:30 p.m. Kia NBA Countdown ESPN, WatchESPN
  8:30 p.m. Game Five: Miami Heat at Indiana Pacers *if necessary ESPN, ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes, WatchESPN
Fri, May 30 7:30 p.m. Kia NBA Countdown ESPN, WatchESPN
  8:30 p.m. Game Six:  Indiana Pacers at Miami Heat *if necessary ESPN, ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes, WatchESPN
Sun, June 1 7:30 p.m. Kia NBA Countdown ESPN, WatchESPN
  8:30 p.m. Game Seven: Miami Heat at Indiana Pacers *if necessary ESPN, ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes, WatchESPN

 

More information on the ESPN family of networks’ coverage of the NBA Finals 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.

ESPN The Magazine Presenting NBA Preview Show Monday Night

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

NBA fans will want to tune in to ESPN2 Monday night, October 21st.  That’s because Monday night, ESPN2 will present the ESPN The Magazine: NBA Preview Show.  ESPN analysts George Karl and Avery Johnson will join a panel of NBA head coaches and host Jonathan “The Coach” Coachman to look at the upcoming 2013-2014 season.  The season’s major storylines will be discussed along with early predictions for the season.

One of the highlights of Monday night’s broadcast will be the coaches’ roundtable.  During this segment, the show’s staff of coaches will discuss reigning NBA MVP LeBron James.  ESPN NBA Insider will offer insights shared by “King James” during his one-on-on interview with James for ESPN The MagazineESPN The Magazine’s NBA Preview edition is available on newsstands everywhere now.

LeBron James isn’t the only star that will be profiled on Monday night’s ESPN The Magazine: NBA Preview Show.  Dwight Howard, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett will each be discussed.  That’s because all three will have new teammates this season.  The panelists will discuss what this may mean for each star.  Along with this, the panelists will also discuss what can be expected from the Brooklyn Nets new coach and former NBA player, Jason Kidd.

ESPN’s 2013-2014 NBA season tips off Friday, November 1st with a matchup of the Nets with their first time coach and the defending NBA champion Miami Heat.  The game is slated for an 8pm ET tipoff.  That game will be followed up with a match between the defending NBA Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers.  That game is expected for a 10:30pm ET start time. Both games are currently scheduled to air on ESPN.  ESPN will also air a pre-season doubleheader next Wednesday, October 23rd.  The first of those games will feature the Boston Celtics hosting the Nets at 7pm.  The second will see the Chicago Bulls on the road against the Oklahoma City Thunder.  That game is scheduled for a 9:30pm ET start time.

More information on these games 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.

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.

James, Williams, Heat Lead The Night At Annual ESPYs Awards

Courtesy: ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Another year, another big night for the ESPYS.  LeBron James and his team mates with the Miami heat were some of the big winners at ESPN’s annual sports awards show.  Also on the list of the year’s big winners were Serena Williams and Michael Phelps.  James led the pack with three ESPY awards.  And his team mates took home the award in the “Best Team” category for the second consecutive year.  James’ awards were in the categories of: “Best Championship Performance”, “Best NBA Player”, and “Best Male Athlete.”  Just as his team mates won their award for the second consecutive year, so did James take home the same awards personally for the second consecutive year, too.  Last night’s win brings James’ ESPY total to nine awards over the course of his career. 

Serena Williams took home two awards on the night.  She won in the categories of “Best Female Athlete” and “Best Best Female Tennis Player.”

Game Six of the NBA Championship finals won the award in the “Best Game” category.  It was in that game that Ray Allen forced the game into overtime with a game-tying three-pointer with 5.2 seconds left in the game.  The Heat went on to win the game and the 2013 NBA Championship.

San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick might not have won the big game this year.  But he did win at the ESPYs.  He took home the award in the “Best Breakout Athlete.”  Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby won in the category of “Best NHL Player.”  The award comes on the heels of a season that saw Crosby score fifteen goals and forty-one assists over the course of the regular season.  And from the world of Major League Baseball, Detroit Tigers player and triple crown winner Miguel Cabrera brought home the award for “Best MLB Player.”  Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps won the award for “Best Record-Breaking Performance.”  He won the award for his record setting the all-time record for most Olympic Medals at a total of twenty-two medals.  He also won this award in 2009. 

In one of the night’s more emotional moments, Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts took home the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.  Roberts, who also played a direct hand in the new ESPN/espnW film series, Nine for IX, was one of ESPN’s first female sports anchors in the 1990s.  Roberts has faced both cancer and MDS yet never wavered in her fight against either life-threatening illness.  The award was presented to Roberts by LeBron James. 

Another of the night’s more emotional moments came in the presentation of the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance.  The award was given to the father and son team of Dick and Rick Hoyt.  The pair has competed together in over one thousand endurance events including thirty-one Boston Marathons.  The younger of the duo, Rick Hoyt, is 51-years old.  He was born with cerebral palsy.  The condition left him unable to use his hands and legs.  His father, 73-year old Dick Hoyt, pushes his son in a custom-made running chair during races including 5Ks, 10Ks, marathons and triathlons.  The award was given to the duo by actor Ben Affleck. 

Among some of the nights other notable winners were:  Rick Pitino (Best Coach/Manager), Candace Parker (Best WNBA Player), Floyd Mayweather (Best Fighter), Missy Franklin (Best Female Olympian), Usain Bolt (Best International Athlete) and Thierry Henry (Best MLS Player).  A full list of the night’s winners is available below.

SPECIAL AWARDS

 

ARTHUR ASHE COURAGE AWARD: Robin Roberts

JIMMY V AWARD FOR PERSEVERANCE: Dick and Rick Hoyt

 

BEST IN SPORT

 

BEST FEMALE ATHLETE: Serena Williams

BEST MALE ATHLETE: LeBron James

BEST FEMALE OLYMPIAN: Missy Franklin

BEST MALE OLYMPIAN: Michael Phelps

BEST MOMENT: Jack Hoffman TD at Nebraska spring game

BEST TEAM: Miami Heat

BEST COMEBACK: Adrian Peterson

BEST COACH/MANAGER: Rick Pitino

BEST GAME: Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs, Game 6 NBA Finals

BEST CHAMPIONSHIP PERFORMANCE: LeBron James, NBA Finals

BEST PLAY:

BEST UPSET: 15-Seed Florida Gulf Coast over 2-Seed Georgetown

BEST BREAKTHROUGH ATHLETE: Colin Kaepernick

BEST RECORD-BREAKING PERFORMANCE: Michael Phelps 22 Olympic medals

BEST MALE COLLEGE ATHLETE: Johnny Manziel

BEST FEMALE COLLEGE ATHLETE: Brittney Griner

BEST MALE ATHLETE WITH A DISABILITY: Jeremy Campbell

BEST FEMALE ATHLETE WITH A DISABILITY: Jessica Long

 

INDIVIDUAL SPORTS

 

BEST MLB PLAYER: Miguel Cabrera

BEST NBA PLAYER: LeBron James

BEST WNBA PLAYER: Candace Parker

BEST NFL PLAYER: Adrian Peterson

BEST NHL PLAYER: Sidney Crosby

BEST MLS PLAYER: Thierry Henry

BEST MALE ACTION SPORT ATHLETE: Nyjah Huston

BEST FEMALE ACTION SPORT ATHLETE: Stephanie Gilmore

BEST BOWLER: Pete Weber

BEST DRIVER: Ryan Hunter-Reay

BEST FIGHTER: Floyd Mayweather

BEST MALE GOLFER: Tiger Woods

BEST FEMALE GOLFER: Stacey Lewis

BEST INTERNATIONAL ATHLETE: Usain Bolt

BEST JOCKEY: Joel Rosario

BEST MALE TENNIS PLAYER: Novak Djokovic

BEST FEMALE TENNIS PLAYER: Serena Williams

 

SPONSORED AWARD

 

CAPITAL ONE CUP: North Carolina Women’s Athletics and UCLA Men’s Athletics

 

To find out more about the night’s events, fans can go online to the official ESPN website, http://www.espn.com or its official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/ESPN and “Like” it.

 

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 Announces Nominees For 2013 ESPYS, Voting Open Now

Courtesy: ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

The nominations are out and the voting has officially begun for this year’s annual ESPY Awards.  In preparation of the annual celebration, Pardon The Interruption hosts Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon will host The ESPY Nomination Special next Monday, July 1st at 8pm EST on ESPN2.  Among this year’s nominees are: Drew Brees, Miguel Cabrera, the Chicago Blackhawks, Olympic medal winner Gabby Douglas, Superbowl champion Joe Flaco of the Baltimore Ravens, and many, many more.

Voting for candidates is open now.  Voting for all categories except “Best Team” will close on the day of the show, Wednesday, July 17th at 9pm.  Fans can cast their vote for categories such as: “Best Male Athlete”, “Best Female Athlete”, “Best Championship Performance”, “Best Breakthrough Athlete” and many others.  Fans can vote online at http://www.ESPN.com/ESPYS up to the start of this year’s awards show.  The “Best Team” category is shifting this year to a Twitter exclusive vote at the beginning of the awards show.  Fans will be able to vote via Twitter throughout the show using hashtag #ESPYSBestTeam and the voter’s favorite team name.  vote from Twitter and ESPYS.com will be gathered at the show’s end to determine the winner of this category.

For more on the ESPYS, fans can go online to http://www.ESPN.com/ESPYS or the official ESPN Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/ESPN.

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 Pulls Big Number For NBA Finals Game 5

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Game 5 of the NBA Finals left some strong numbers for ABC Sunday night.  The matchup of the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat generated a strong 11.4 overnight rating according to Nielsen.  It is expected to mark the thirty-fifth consecutive time that an NBA Finals telecast has won the night across the board and the twenty-third consecutive time that it has delivered double digit overnight ratings. 

The peak period for the game was between 10:30pm and 10:45pm EST.  This fifteen minute period saw the game peak at a 13.9.  Local market numbers are just as good for the NBA Finals.  Game 5 pulled in a 37.6 metered market rating in San Antonio and a 28.8 in Miami. 

The series’ crucial Game 6 airs Tuesday night June 18th, live at 9pm EST from Miami.  It will be broadcast live on ABC.  It will also be simulcast on ESPN Radio affiliates across the country and on ESPN Deportes for Spanish speaking audiences.  For those wanting to catch the game online, it will be available on ESPN3 and WatchESPN.  The game will be preceded by the Kia NBA Countdown at 8:30pm on ABC and ESPN3.

To keep up with all of the latest NBA news from ESPN, audiences can “Like” ESPN on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ESPN.  Fans can also get all the latest NBA news on the official ESPN website, http://www.espn.com.

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.com Offers NBA Fans, Viewers Extensive Finals Coverage

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Thursday, June 6th 2013 is one of the year’s biggest days of the year for NBA fans across the country.  That’s because tomorrow is the first game of the 2013 NBA Championship series.  In celebration, ESPN and the ESPN family of networks will have complete coverage of this year’s NBA Finals.  This includes coverage online via ESPN3, WatchESPN.com, and ESPNRadio.com  Broadcasts on ESPNRadio.com are being made available courtesy of autotrader.com.  Game One will be broadcast live Thursday evening, June 6th at 9pm EDT on ABC.  It will be simulcast on ESPN Radio and ESPN Deportes.

Coverage of each game will be handled by a variety of NBA analysts, reporters and contributors.  ESPN.com will have on-site coverage of the game.  This includes scouting reports, a look at each game by the numbers, expert predictions, feature stories, video analysis, and some very special interactive experiences for fans and viewers.  Among the reporters handling coverage will be, Marc Stein, J.A. Adande, Mike Wallace, Brian Windhorst, and Tom Haberstroh.  Henry Abbott will have coverage of the finals on site for TrueHoop, TrueHoop TV, and HoopIdea.  Daily Dime and Daily Dime Live interactive chats on ESPN.com will be offered for up-to-the minute conversation and reaction to each game each night.

Feature stories written by Kevin Arnovitz, Kevin Van Valkenburg, Liz Merrill, Israel Gutierrez, Ramona Shelburne, and Marc Stein will be posted on all things centered on the NBA Finals.  Topics covered include: Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, the San Antonio Spurs organization as a whole, and even one of the game’s biggest names, Lebron James.

Forecasts of each game will be offered by a panel of some two hundred NBA experts with extensive NBA experience, knowledge and perspectives.  Richard Swarbrick will present a new animation featuring the greatest moments of the NBA Finals.

ESPN Insiders will offer premium content a thorough NBA Finals preview.  It will also include daily Per Diem columns, from Kevin Pelton and Tom Haberstroh, and a ranking of the fifty greatest single playoff performances of all times.  If that’s not enough, then try out David Thorpe’s post-season MVP rankings, too.

True hardcore NBA fans will appreciate the chance to take part personally in the Finals.  That is thanks to “Finals 50/50 presented by Sony Electronics.”  This is an NBA fantasy pick ‘em game.  It allows fans to answer ten questions related to each NBA Finals game.  Contestants have until tip-off of each game to enter answers for the questions.  Five additional questions related to each game will be presented at half-time of each game.  The questions will be presented in relation to the status of each game at that point.  Those questions will be worth five additional points each.  The big prize is well worth the entries.  That’s because of the total contestants, that contestant that accumulates the most points by the end of the finals will win a Sony Home Entertainment System grand prize.  Those that accumulate the most points per game will earn a four hundred dollar gift card.  The game will be available online at ESPN.com and on mobile web for fans to play at home or on the road.

NBA fans can keep up with all of the latest news and more throughout the finals on the official ESPN Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/ESPN and on the official ESPN website, http://www.espn.com.

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.

Junior Welterweight Bout Headlines May 10th Edition Of FNF

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN’s Friday Night Fights returns with another full card Friday, May 10th.  This week’s card is headlined by a matchup of two Junior Welterweights.  Vernon “The Iceman” Paris (27 – 1, 16 KOs) faces off against Manny “Manos” Perez (19 – 8 – 1, 4 KOs) in a ten-round main event.  Friday’s main event will be broadcast live from the Masonic Temple in Detroit at 10pm ET.  The fight will air live on ESPN2 HD and online and mobile internet via WatchESPN and the WatchESPN app.  ESPN Deportes will pick up the fight in progress following the conclusion of the NBA Playoff matchup between the   Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat. 

Paris comes into Friday’s fight with quite a bit of momentum, having beaten Guy Pucker with a third-round KO in his most recent fight.  Before that bout, Paris also had fought three-time Welterweight and Welterweight titlist Zab Judah.  Paris was upbeat in an interview when asked about what to expect from Friday’s bout.  He noted that he was definitely prepared for the fight.  “I’ve started working with my new coach, Herman Caicedo, and have been preparing for this fight ever since my last fight,” he said.  “My new coach is good. He’s teaching me to keep my hands up. The plan – what I’m going to do in the ring – that’s all coming together. I’m feeling real good about it.” 

Perez has his own momentum coming into this week’s main event.  He won three of his previous four matches including a ten-round split decision over Jose Cotto (Miguel Cotto’s brother) and a ten-round unanimous decision over Edgar Santana.  He won his most recent fight, a seven round unanimous decision win over Bernardo Guereca. 

Perez sounded focused but realistic when asked about taking on Paris.  “I know Paris is very, very tough, and I anticipate a tough fight,” Perez said.  “Those are the fights I like. I’ve said it before – you don’t become the best without fighting the best. You have to fight and beat the best. I’m working on my jab a lot now, and just want to show more variety in my shots this fight. I want to show better angles, and a better variety of right hands. I want to apply the right kind of pressure and just break him down. I’m looking forward to putting on a great performance.”

Friday’s fight between Paris and Perez will be preceded by a co-feature pitting a pair of Featherweights against each other.  Cornelius “Lightning” Lock (20 – 6 – 1, 13 KOs) and “El Negro Mexicano Lightning” Lonnie Smith (14 – 4 – 3, 10 KOs) will face off in a ten-round fight.  Lock won his most recent fight with a second-round TKO win over Damon Antoine.  Smith’s last fight ended in a seventh-round technical draw against Michael Perez.

FNF hosts Teddy Atlas and Joe Tessitore will both be on hand to call all of the evening’s action for ESPN2 HD.  They will be joined by studio host Todd Grisham with all of the latest boxing news and Highlights.  Pablo Viruega and Delvin Rodriguez will call the matches for ESPN Deportes.  Claudia Trejos and Leopoldo Gonzales will join them from the ESPN Deportes studios.  Bernardo Osuna will have live interviews and reports for ESPN2 HD and ESPN Deportes. 

Friday Night’s new edition of FNF is presented by Corona Extra and is promoted by Millennium Promotions.   

Fans can keep up with all the latest boxing news when they “Like” the FNF Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/espn.fnf.  Once fans “Like” the FNF Facebook page, they can use the LIVE Friday Night Fights Voting app on the ESPN FNF Facebook page to score each match themselves from the comfort of their homes.  And for even more on Friday Night Fights, fans can keep up with the show on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/FNF

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.