ESPN Films’ Latest Release Debuts April 17th

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN Films debuts the latest release in its 30 for 30 series next month.

Bad Boys, the latest film from ESPN Films’ hit series, premieres Thursday, April 17th at 8pm ET on ESPN.  The film was produced by NBA Entertainment and helmed by Zak Levitt.  The film’s story centers on the Detroit Pistons’ heyday of the late 80s and early 90s.  The Pistons of the 80s and 90s was one of those teams that fans either loved or hated.  There was no in between for this squad.  Those that loved the team called it a group of men that wasn’t afraid to work hard and really get in the paint.  It was a team, to those fans, that was afraid of no one.  That same win at all costs mentality is also what led many to despise the team.

The film highlights the highs and lows of the team’s heyday through interviews with the likes of Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer, Joe Dumars, Dennis Rodman, Adrian Dantley, and Mark Aguirre among others.  The interviews give viewers a more personal look at what made the team one of the league’s most talked about. Also included are personal insights from some of the biggest names to face Detroit during the late 80s and early 90s. Those names include: Michael Jordan, Clyde Drexler, Patrick Ewing, Kevin McHale, Dominique Wilkins, and James Worthy.  Former NBA Commissioner David Stern also shares his thoughts on what made the team such a lightning rod in the league at that time.

The premiere of Bad Boys will be followed immediately by Grantland’s Bad Boys Remix, a special one-hour presentation featuring Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose.  The pair will be joined by Isiah Thomas and Doug Collins to discuss the film.  The pair will also share more thoughts on the highs and lows of the Pistons.  Along with their appearance on Grantland’s Bad Boys Remix, Thomas and Collins will be part of Grantland’s “Detroit Week” package, kicking off April 14th.  Grantland’s “Detroit Week” will include written features about the city of Detroit and its history as well as Detroit-themed podcasts on the Grantland Network.

More information on ESPN Films and its hit 30 for 30 series 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.

2013 NBA Draft Ties For Highest Rated Broadcast Since 2003 Draft Coverage

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

The 2013 NBA Draft created quite a stir among teams, talking heads, and fans alike.  This year marked the first time that a Canadian player was drafted number one.  Just as surprising, was that other players were not drafted.  Not surprisingly though is that all of the surprises from this year’s draft led it to tie with the 2007 NBA draft for the highest rated broadcast of the NBA draft ever.  That was the highest rated draft since the big show’s 2003 broadcast.  It delivered a 2.6 overnight rating according to Nielsen.  That is up thirteen percent from the 2012 NBA draft.

Listed below is the ratings rundown of the top 10 markets for this year’s draft broadcast.  The Raleigh-Durham, NC market had the sixth highest overnight rating at a 4.2

2013 NBA Draft on ESPN

Top markets Rating
1.Louisville 6.9
2.Memphis 5.6
3.Cleveland 5.0
4.Indianapolis 4.7
5.Oklahoma City 4.3
6.Raleigh-Durham 4.2
7.Detroit 3.9
8.Charlotte 3.7
9.Washington, D.C. 3.6
10.Kansas City 3.5

 

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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 https://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

 

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The Other Dream Team Scores Big Points Among Documentaries

Courtesy:  Lionsgate

Courtesy: Lionsgate

The Other Dream Team, the new basketball based documentary from Lionsgate, is a surprisingly interesting work.  It’s a story that will interest both basketball fans, history buffs, and even anyone who has any interest in political science.  While the story itself is based against a backdrop of basketball, it’s less about the sport in question and more about politics and a people’s struggle to escape the crushing hand of communism.  Together with its bonus Q&A session with Writer/Director Marius A. Markevicius and Writer/Producer Jon Weinbach, The Other Dream Team proves to be a surprise contender for one of the year’s best documentaries.

The Other Dream Team’s run time comes in at just over an hour and a half.  In that time, audiences are introduced to a work that’s not just another underdog story.  Rather, it’s a story of a group of men who represented an entire country in its struggle to break free from the bonds of communism.  It centers on a group of four Lithuanians who originally were forced to play for the Russian national basketball team, but then managed to break free and form a Lithuanian basketball team.  Even in their freedom from the Russian national team, the men still faced challenges, including one member of the team—Arvydas Sarbonis–being prevented from joining the NBA by the government of the then Communist Russia.  Even on this side of the Atlantic, Sarbonis was called Russian by NBA Commissioner David Stern when he was drafted by the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers, which he wasn’t.  And NBA fans here were none too pleased with the announcement, effectively making Sarbonis a man without a country so to speak.  Players on both sides of the ball explain in interviews how the game of basketball became less about playing a game and more of a political statement, and just how important that statement was.  Audiences who perhaps have never delved very deep into the political history of Communist and post Communist Russia will be amazed by just how important a single game could be to a whole nation.  That importance is highlighted even more through interviews with a number of people close to the game including former NBA great Bill Walton, ESPN’s Chad Ford, Fran Fraschilla and a host of others.  The program also features original footage of the conflict between Lithuania and Russia both on and off the court highlighting just how tense things were between the two nations in Lithuania’s struggle for independence.  It all comes together to make a documentary that anyone with a love of history, sports, or even politics will thoroughly enjoy.

The documentary itself is quite interesting to watch.  After watching it, viewers will also want to check out the feature’s bonus Q&A session with Writer/Director Marius A. Markevicius and Writer/Producer Jon Weinbach.  Viewers learn from the session’s opening moments that Markevicius’ interest in crafting this story came from his own Lithuanian roots.  He explains about growing up, watching the Lithuanian basketball team, trying to follow them, despite the general lack of information released about them when he was a child.  The session is highlighted by questions posted and followed by some very in depth answers from both men.  Sometimes those answers will move audiences.  Others, it will have them laughing.  It serves as a very good companion to the bonus audio commentary included with the film.  Along with the commentary in question, the vintage footage, interviews and every element that went into bringing this film to life, The Other Dream Team proves to be an unexpectedly impressive documentary, and one that proves to be one of the year’s best in the documentary category.  It’s available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct via the Lionsgate online store at http://www.lionsgateshop.com/product.asp?Id=27844&TitleParentId=8032

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.