ESPN College Football Analysts Announce Picks For BCS Bowls

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

The holiday season is said to be the most wonderful time of the year.  For college football fans, it’s not Christmas, but the days after that are the most wonderful time of the year.  That’s because the biggest games of the college football season are played in the days after Christmas.  And fans can catch all of the action across the ESPN family of networks and online.  It all starts off New Year’s Day with the 100th Rose Bowl and the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.  Number Four Michigan State will face off against Number Five Stanford in the Rose Bowl presented by Vizio at 5pm.  Number Six Baylor and Number Fifteen UCF follow at 8:30pm in the annual Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

The new year football celebrations continue Thursday, January 2nd with a matchup of Number Three Alabama taking on Number Eleven Oklahoma in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.  That game is slated for an 8:30pm start time.  The Discover Orange Bowl follows the next night at 8:30pm with Number Twelve Clemson taking on Number Seven Ohio State.  That games is also set for an 8:30pm kickoff.  Wrapping up the week of football festivities is the Vizio BCS National Championship next Monday, January 6th.  The one-loss Auburn Tigers will take on the undefeated Florida State Seminoles in college football’s biggest game.

As college football fans across the country get ready for their most wonderful time of the year, ESPN’s college football analysts have made their own predictions as to the winner of each game.  Their picks are listed below.  It should be noted that the analysts in question did not pick the games that they are calling.

ESPN Analysts BCS Picks

Analyst Rose Bowl

#STANvsMSU

Fiesta Bowl

#UCFvsBAY

Sugar Bowl

#OUvsBAMA

Orange Bowl

#CLEMvsOSU

Championship

#FSUvsAUB

Anthony Becht Stanford UCF Alabama Ohio State Florida State
Mike Bellotti Stanford Baylor Alabama Ohio State Florida State
Kevin Carter Stanford Baylor Alabama Clemson Florida State
Todd Blackledge Stanford Baylor Clemson
Ed Cunningham Stanford Baylor Alabama Clemson Florida State
Joey Galloway Michigan State Baylor Alabama Clemson Florida State
Rod Gilmore Stanford Alabama Ohio State Auburn
Brian Griese Stanford Baylor Alabama Ohio State Florida State
Brock Huard Michigan State Baylor Alabama Ohio State Florida State
Danny Kanell Stanford Baylor Alabama Clemson Florida State
Tom Luginbill Stanford Baylor Alabama Clemson Auburn
Brett McMurphy Stanford Baylor Alabama Clemson Florida State
Jesse Palmer Stanford Baylor Alabama Ohio State Florida State
Chris Spielman Michigan State Alabama Florida State
Matt Stinchcomb Stanford Baylor Alabama Clemson Auburn
Andre Ware Michigan State

 

More information on all of the week’s upcoming BCS games is available online at http://www.facebook.com/CFBonESPN, http://espn.go.com/ncf/index, and http://twitter.com/espncfb.  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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN Announces Information For Friday Night Fights Season Premiere

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN’s Friday Night Fights presented by Corona is returning for its seventeenth season.  The Worldwide Leader in Sports has announced that FNF will begin its new season on Friday, January 3rd live at 9pm ET on WatchESPN and ESPN Deportes+.  The show’s seventeenth season will kick off with a bang, too.  Season Seventeen will open with a twelve-round IBF title bout between Junior Lightweight titlist Argenis Mendez ( 21 – 2 – 1,  11 KOs) and undefeated Rances Barthelemy (19 – 0, 12 KOs).  Also slated for the season premiere of Friday Night Fights presented by Corona will be a ten-round co-feature featuring up-and-coming Middleweight contender Caleb Truax (23 – 1, 4 KOs).  As an additional note, ESPN Deportes will re-brand its broadcasts with the new name, Noche de Combates.  The newly re-branded broadcast was previously branded as Viernes de Combates.

The season opening bout, the first of the 2014 season’s twenty-six total fights, will be broadcast live from the Target Center in Minneapolis, MN.  It is co-promoted by former Heavyweight Champion Mike Tyson and his promotional company, Iron Mike Productions.  Tyson also promoted the final bout of FNF’s 2013 season, which featured Argenis Mendez in the world title main event.

Brian Kweder, ESPN Senior Director of Programming and Acquisitions, expressed expectations for the 2014 season in a recent statement.  He also  noted changes being made for the upcoming season of FNF.  “We are eagerly anticipating the upcoming season of Friday Night Fights and Noche de Combates,” he said.  “We start the season just as we finished last season with a world title fight co-promoted by Mike Tyson’s Iron Mike Productions. The biggest change for 2014 is that we are assigning dates to promoters with as much advance notice as possible to allow for even better fights and bigger crowds.  We’ve partnered with a group of promoters who have always delivered in the past and are committed to upping the ante even further for 2014. Having a world title fight and names like Kendall Holt, Zsolt Erdei and Arash Usmanee early this season show that the strategy is already paying dividends.”

Long time FNF broadcast team Joe Tessitore and Teddy Atlas will be back again for all of the ringside action each week.  Tessitore will call the matches and Atlas will have in-match analysis for every match broadcast on ESPN2.  Both men have been awarded the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in  Broadcast Journalism.  Teddy Atlas won the award in 2001 and Tessitore in 2010.  Studio host Todd Grisham will be back for his second full season on FNF.  He will fill in for Tessitore in ESPN2’s season opener and will have all of the latest boxing news and highlights.  Also back again will be Bernardo Osuna.  Osuna will contribute to broadcasts both on FNF and Noche de Combates. 

Pablo Viruega and Delvin Rodriguez will have the call for ESPN Deportes and ESPN Deportes+.  The will be joined live by studios hosts Leopoldo Gonzalez and Claudia Trejos.  As a new addition to the studio show for ESPN Deportes and ESPN Deportes+, Hall of Fame referee Joe Cortez will join Gonzalez and Trejos in studio throughout the season.  Osuna will contribute reports and interviews each week.  The latest slate of fights is available below.

 

Date Time (ET) Main Event Location Networks
Fri, Jan 3 9 p.m. Argenis Méndez (21-2-1, 11 KOs)  vs. Rances Barthelemy (19-0, 12 KOs) —12-rounds, IBF Junior Lightweight Title Target Center, Minneapolis, Minn. ESPN2, ESPN Deportes+, WatchESPN
Fri, Jan 10 9 p.m. Arash Usmanee (20-1-1, 10 KOs) vs. Juan Antonio Rodríguez (25-4, 23 KOs) — Junior Lightweights Emerald Queen Hotel & Casino, Tacoma Wash. ESPN2, ESPN Deportes+, WatchESPN
Fri, Jan 24 9 p.m. Javier Molina (14-1, 6 KOs) vs. Kendall Holt (28-6, 16 KOs) —10-rounds, Junior Welterweights Little Creek Casino, Shelton Wash. ESPN2, ESPN Deportes+, WatchESPN
Fri, Jan 31 9 p.m. Zsolt Erdei (33-1, 18 KOs) vs. Elvir Muriqi (40-5, 24 KOs) —10-rounds, Light Heavyweights Codey Arena, West Orange, N.J. ESPN2, ESPN Deportes+, WatchESPN

 

More information on the latest from FNF and Noche de Combates is available online at http://www.facebook.com/espn.fnf, http://twitter.com/ESPNBoxeo, and http://twitter.com/ESPNFNF.  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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Bears, ‘Boys Face Off Monday Night In Pivotal NFC East Battle

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

This week’s broadcast of Monday Night Football on ESPN is going to be another big one as the regular season nears its end.  This week, the Bears and the ‘Boys will face off for control of the NFC East.  Both teams come into Monday Night’s game on their own MNF winning streaks.  The Cowboys’ own a five-game MNF win streak and are second all-time in MNF appearances (74) and wins (43) coming into Monday’s game.  The Bears won their last four home games that aired on Monday Night Football.  Making the night even more special for the Bears is that they will honor Bears legend and current NFL analyst Mike Ditka by retiring his number during the games halftime festivities.

Stuart Scott will anchor Monday night’s pre-game show, Monday Night Countdown.  The broadcast will come live from Soldier Field in Chicago at 6:30pm.  He will be joined by analysts Trent Dilfer, Ray Lewis, and Steve Young.  Contributor Rick Reilly will also be on hand alongside the Monday Night Football team of Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, and Lisa Salters.  Chris Berman will head up the studio portion of the show.  He will be joined by ESPN NFL analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson, and insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter.

Monday Night’s game is scheduled for an 8:25pm ET start time on ESPN.  Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden will be in the booth to call the game.  Lisa Salters will be on the sidelines for all of the latest in-game reports.  More information on Mondays game and all things Monday Night Football is available online at http://www.facebook.com/MNF, http://espn.go.com/nfl.mnf, and http://espn.go.com/nfl.  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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN’s Annual “Jimmy V. Week For Cancer Research” Begins Today

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Today, December 3rd, is an important day in the sports world.  The reason for the day’s importance is that it begins the annual “Jimmy V. Week for Cancer Research.”  It all kicks off tonight with a simulcast of beloved former NC State coach Jim Valvano’s  famed 1993 ESPYs speech across the ESPN family of networks.  It will also run on the ABC SuperSign in New York’s Times Square.  Good Morning America host and winner of the 2013 Arthur Ashe Courage Award, Robin Roberts, will introduce the simulcast.

Roberts and a handful of athletes, coaches, celebrities and ESPN faces will share Valvano’s words through public service announcements.  The announcements in question and “Jimmy V Week” content will air on ESPN’s Monday Night Football, NBA on ESPN games, and college football games on ABC.

The week-long memoriam wraps up with the “Jimmy V. Women’s and Men’s Basketball Classics Presented by Corona.”  The games will be broadcast Tuesday, December 17th at 7pm ET on ESPN2.  Number 1 Connecticut will face off against Number 2 Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, North Carolina on the Women’s side.  On the men’s side, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati will take to the hard court at 7pm ET.  That game will be followed up by a matchup of Number 16 Florida and Number 11 Memphis at 9:30 ET.  Both games will run on ESPN and ESPN Radio live from Madison Square Garden.

The “Jimmy V. Week for Cancer Research” raised $1.6 million in 2012.  Last year’s success brings the fundraising effort’s six-year total to more than $6.5 million.  More information on this and more from ESPN is available online at http://www.espn.com and 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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

League of Denial Is A Shocking Look At NFL Injuries

Courtesy:  PBS

Courtesy: PBS

When one thinks of PBS, one doesn’t typically associate the network with football. But in one of the latest episodes of its news program Frontline, PBS “tackles” the NFL’s recent scandal centered on the battle over whether current and former NFL players suffer from a condition known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE. This shows how big the scandal had become ever since the discovery of CTE in the late 1990s. Whether one is a PBS fan or a fan of the NFL, League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis is a program that both audiences will want to watch. Audiences on both sides will want to watch this as it provides an in depth discussion on the scandal showing where it started and the eventual effect of the findings on the league as a whole. Audiences will find interesting, the interviews with both medical professionals and those with the league that paint the whole picture. The addition of vintage video of games helps to illustrate the subject matter even more.  Audiences are also presented with visual imagery of the brains that were studied by the noted medical professionals.   The imagery in question may be unfamiliar to most audiences.  But in its own way, it helps to illustrate the arguments made by those arguing that CTE does in fact affect NFL players.  This video, along with the vintage NFL game footage and the interviews on both sides make this episode of Frontline all the more intriguing for anyone with any interest in either the medical field or just the NFL.

PBS doesn’t typically delve into the world of professional sports with its programming.  So when producers decided to take on the issue of CTE in NFL players, one knew instantly that the subject was far more wide ranging than just what was going on with the players.  Audiences will see through the interviews culled for this episode of Frontline that CTE affects both current NFL players and those hoping to one day reach the ranks of the NFL.  The interviews provide a clear, unbiased look at the situation and how important it is as not just a sports issue, but a health issue, too.  Viewers will see how medical science was used to break open a scandal that continues to play a role in the NFL even today after the league paid out almost $800 million to former players and the families of former players that were found to have suffered from CTE as a result of their time in the NFL.  Dr. Bennett Omalu is the first medical professional interviewed during the program’s two-hour run time.  It was his autopsy of former Steelers legend Mike Webster that started the ball rolling in the case against the NFL covering up brain injuries to players.  On the other side, an interesting argument is made that if CTE does in fact affect players, why is it that it only affects some players and not others.  That’s not to say that it’s a strong argument.  But it is an interesting one nonetheless.

The interviews used throughout this program are hard hitting to say the least.  No pun intended.  Just as powerful is the companion video used to illustrate the arguments being made.  PBS uses footage from NFL films to show just how hard football players hit one another in the course of a normal game.  One interviewee shares that when players hit one another in a normal game, it’s equivalent to hitting a brick wall at thirty-five miles per hour.  This illustration combined with the provided footage from NFL Films puts quite well into perspective just how hard players hit one another again and again throughout just a single game.  One can’t help but lean more towards the side of CTE as a cause of players’ brain injuries over their careers, despite what certain groups might have people believe.  The footage of the dissected brains may not be the easiest thing for some viewers to handle.  That should be noted right now.  But much like the other video that accompanies the program’s interviews, it helps to illustrate even more the arguments being made by those that investigated them.  Not everybody will fully comprehend or appreciate what is shown.  Even this critic views the dissections as Latin so to speak. But for those that have any interest or experience in the medical field and/or forensic science, they play an extremely large role in the grand scheme of the program.  In simple terms, they add that much more value to the presentation.  And that added value makes this piece even more worth watching whether one is a hardcore NFL fan or not.  League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis is available now and can be ordered direct from PBS’ online store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=24432136&cp=&sr=1&kw=league+of+denial&origkw=League+of+Denial&parentPage=search.  More information on this and other releases from PBS is available online at http://www.pbs.org and http://www.facebook.com/pbs.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN To Air NASCAR SCS, NNS Finales This Weekend

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

And then there was one.  This weekend, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ 2013 series comes down to a winner take all race that will decide who takes the Sprint Cup Championship.  Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson have been locked in a head to head battle since the start of the annual “Chase for the Championship.”  But Kenseth has fallen off track in recent weeks.  He trails Jimmie Johnson by almost thirty points as the series heads into its season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend.  Allen Bestwick will anchor this weekend’s broadcast.  He will be joined by analysts and NASCAR veterans Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree.  Dave Burns, Jamie Little, Dr. Jerry Punch, and Vince Welch will have all the latest in-race news live from the pits.  ESPN’s NASCAR Countdown will be anchored by Mike Massaro.  He will be joined by NASCAR veteran Rusty Wallace, former crew chief and Evernham Racing head Ray Evernham, as well as team owner Brad Daughtery for analysis.

The Ford Econoboost 400 closes out the Sprint Cup Series’ 2013 season.  It will be broadcast live this Sunday beginning with a special two-hour edition of NASCAR Countdown beginning at 1pm ET.  The green flag is currently scheduled to drop at 3:15pm ET.  ESPN will have also air practice and qualifying live this Friday at 1:30pm and 6pm ET respectively.

Along with its broadcast of the Sprint Cup Series season finale, ESPN will also have full coverage of the NASCAR Nationwide Series’ finale Saturday afternoon.  Austin Dillon and Sam Hornish, Jr. will take it right down to the wire Saturday for the series’ championship in the Ford Econoboost 300.  Broadcast of the race begins with NASCAR Countdown live at 4pm.  The green flag is expected to drop at 4:46pm ET.

ESPN will build up to this weekend’s championship battle by embedding reporters Ryan McGee and Shannon Spake with Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth’s teams respectively today and tomorrow, November 12th and 13th.  They will bring reports from both camps on ESPN’s flagship show, SportsCenter.  NASCAR fans can also tune in to ESPNEWS this Thursday, November 14th for a special hour-long program that will come live from the NASCAR Championship Contenders news conference.  That broadcast will kick off live at 12pm ET from Miami.

More information on this weekend’s races is available online at http://espn.go.com/racing/nascar/.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news, 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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Bernie And Ernie Closes Out ESPN’s Fall “Season” Of 30 For 30

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN and ESPN Films wind down the Fall 2013 edition of 30 for 30 next Tuesday, November 5th.  The Worldwide leader in sports finishes off this season of its Peabody Award-winning series by taking viewers into the world of college basketball in Bernie and Ernie.

Bernie and Ernie takes viewers into the relationship between former college basketball stars Bernard King and Ernie Grunfield.  The pair rose to fame as the center of the University of Tennessee’s men’s college basketball team in the mid-1970s.  Between them, the pair scored on average fifty points per game.  Their rise to fame eventually led to a cover story for Sports Illustrated.  While things were coming up roses for the pair in the public eye, things were much different for the two men behind closed doors.  There was a distance between the players during their years together on the team.  That was because of their different upbringings.  King lived hard growing up.  Despite being devout Christians, King’s parents offered little to no emotional support to him as he nurtured his talent.  And during his college years, he had to endure acts of racial bigotry.

Ernie Grunfeld had a different upbringing than his team mate.  As a child, the young Romanian immigrant spoke no English at all.  But by his teen years, he was being recruited by some two hundred colleges.  He had no clue about everything that King was enduring while the pair were attending the university of Tennessee.  This is what would eventually lead to a distance between the players.  However, years after they left the Volunteers, the pair would end up reuniting after King was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame this year.  Bernie and Ernie examines that friendship from the pair’s years in college up to this year.  It is narrated by Public Enemy front man Chuck D and directed by Jason Hehir (The Fab Five).  Bernie and Ernie premieres Tuesday, November 5th at 8pm ET on ESPN.

Bernie and Ernie will be available for download via iTunes and Amazon Instant Video the day after its broadcast.  A six-disc collectible gift set featuring the first fifteen films from 30 for 30 Volume II on November 26th, 2013.  More information on this and all things 30 for 30 is available online at http://www.facebook.com/espn30for30, http://twitter.com/30for30, and http://espn.go.com/30for30.  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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN Films Starts Winding Down Its Latest Series With “This Is What They Want”

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN Films’ Peabody Award-winning series 30 for 30 continues next Tuesday, October 29th with another brand new film.  Next Tuesday, ESPN and ESPN films take audiences into the tennis world in This is What They Want.  The film focuses on tennis star Jimmy Connors and his unbelievable run in the 1991 US Open.

Connors was thirty-eight years old when he entered the 1991 US Open, and was nearing his thirty-ninth birthday.  At the time, he was ranked 174th in the world.  And it had been eight years since he had earned his last Grand Slam singles title.  For those not familiar with the tennis world, this is not a good sign for someone coming into one of tennis’ biggest events.  Connors was close to being eliminated in the tournament’s first round.  But then something incredible happened.  Connors went on a tear that included a contest with Aaron Krickstein on his way to the semi-finals.  Connors’run through the tournament is richly detailed and examined thanks to director Brian Koppelman and David Levien.  The pair have been producing and directing movies since 1997.  Their list of credits includes: Rounders, Oceans Thirteen, The Illusionist, and the new hit movie Runner, Runner.  The pair included in this film, interviews with veteran tennis players John and Patrick McEnroe, Mary Carilo and Jim Courier along with Kirckstein.  Through their interviews and classic footage, This is What They Want examines not just Connors’ run but also what made him such a talked about figure in the tennis and sports worlds.  It shows how he helped make tennis the equally talked about sport that it is today.

All films in the 30 for 30 series will be available for download the day after their broadcast via iTunes and Amazon Instant Video.  The remaining films in the series are listed below.  A special six-disc collector’s edition Gift Set containing the first fifteen films from 30 for 30 Volume II will be available in stores and online Tuesday, November 26, 2013.

The remaining films of the fall slate will air as follows:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 29, 8 p.m. –This      is What They Want (Directors: Brian      Koppelman and David Levien)
  • Tuesday, Nov. 5, 8 p.m. –Bernie      and Ernie (Director: Jason Hehir)

 

More information on all things 30 for 30 is available online at http://www.facebook.com/espn30for30, http://twitter.com/30for30, and http://www.espn.com/30for30.  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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Big Shot A Gripping Sports Scandal Story

Courtesy:  ESPN/ESPN Films

Courtesy: ESPN/ESPN Films

ESPN is set to release the next collection of films in its Peabody Award winning series, 30 for 30next month. As ESPN’s fans count down the days to the release of ESPN Films Volume II, the “Worldwide Leader In Sports” will debut another film likely to be included in the set Tuesday October 22nd in the form of Big Shot. The nearly ninety minute film is a must see for any hockey fan regardless of team allegiance. It follows the story of how one man conned the entire New York Islanders organization from top to bottom and its waning fan base. Throughout the course of the film, director Kevin Connolly presents to audiences how John Spano conned the sports world into believing he was a Texas billionaire.  It presents his rise to power as the head of a struggling NHL franchise that once boasted four NHL Championships, and his eventual downfall after being revealed as the fraud that he was. As with every one of the films in the 30 for 30 series, the very story itself is reason enough to watch this film. Just as much reason to watch it, those closest to the scandal share the story in their own words. This includes Spano himself. From former players to sports writers and others, the whole twisted tale is told in depth. And sealing the deal for this film is once again the inclusion of classic game footage and newspaper articles to help drive the story along and illustrate everything that happened throughout the ordeal. Together, they make yet another film that proves once more why ESP continues to earn the title of the “Worldwide Leader in Sports.”

The story behind Big Shot alone is reason enough to watch this film.  The story follows John Spano’s deception of so many people.  From the Islanders to the team’s fans to the NHL as a whole, Spano deceived so many people.  Through it all, he seemed to have no remorse at all for his actions.  This is the case even in one-on-one interviews between director Connolly and Spano for the film.  He didn’t try to make himself a victim.  But he seemed to have had no remorse at all for what he did.  Just as incredible is that he was able to fool so many people for so long, despite certain parties openly crying foul.  The sports world is no stranger to scandals.  But this is one of the rarest scandals ever to have hit the sports world.  The closest that any sports organization comes from the world of NASCAR.  Both times, they involved team owners facing criminal charges for fraud.  Keeping that in mind, Spano’s scandal is even more eye opening.  It is one that any sports fan should see.

The story of Big Shot is an eye opener.  It will keep any sports fan engaged throughout its near ninety-minute run time.  The story by itself wouldn’t be as interesting as it is though, without the interviews with those closest to the scandal.  Those interviewed for this film include former Islanders greats Clark Gillies, Bob Nystrom, and former coach Mike MIlbury.  Even Spano himself is interviewed, as noted previously.  The interviews with Milbury and Spano show that while the scandal has long past, there is obviously still some bad blood between them in regards to everything that happened.  Audiences should be warned that some language used in the interviews may not be suitable for all viewers.  Also interviewed throughout the film are professional sports journalists that covered the Islanders’ struggles and Spano’s impact on both the team and the league as a whole.  Their stories help to even better illustrate just how deep the scandal went and how it managed to go on for so long.  It’s one more positive to what is yet another success from ESPN and ESPN Films.

Both the interviews and the story of Big Shot make this film yet another gripping sports story.  There is still one remaining factor to be examined that makes this film as interesting as ESPN Films’ other stories in its 30 for 30 series.  That factor is the vintage newspaper articles and game footage used throughout the film.  Viewers get to see the Islanders’ heyday from the early 1980s thanks to the footage used in the film.  Also included are newspaper articles used to help illustrate Spano’s rise and eventual fall.  They are good visual aids for viewers.  They make the discussions raised by the interviewees clearer for viewers.  Together with the interviews in question, the game footage and the film’s story, it makes this piece another “win” for ESPN and ESPN Films.  It debuts tonight at 8pm ET on ESPN.  More information on this and other films in the 30 for 30 series is available online at http://www.facebook.com/espn30for30 and http://www.espn.com/30for30.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.