The Walt Disney Company signs up for more with the NBA

27 06 2007

ESPN Press Release:

ESPN, ABC and the National Basketball Association (NBA) will significantly expand their global relationship with ESPN’s most comprehensive digital rights package negotiated with any major professional sports league and enhanced television coverage in an eight-year extension beginning in 2008-09, it was announced today by George Bodenheimer, President, ESPN, Inc. and ABC Sports and David Stern, NBA Commissioner. The new pact will also feature more exclusivity in the postseason on ESPN, expanded television and digital media rights for ESPN International.

Under the terms of the new deal, the NBA will deliver content for 17 ESPN platforms, including:  ABC, ABC HD, ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN2, ESPN2 HD, ESPNEWS, ESPN Classic, ESPN Deportes, ESPN International, ESPN Radio, ESPN.com, ESPN360.com, ESPN Mobile Publishing, ESPN Mobile TV, ESPNU and ESPN podcasts.  The deal will also cover all new platforms ESPN creates or develops relationships with through the end of the agreement in 2016.

Bodenheimer said: “This agreement sets a new standard – it is the most expansive package of rights we’ve acquired from a major professional league in our 27-year history.  We’re thrilled to take a major step forward in our relationship with David Stern and the NBA with this broad, global agreement.  The scope of this deal and the new rights we obtained offer us tremendous opportunities to serve NBA fans like never before – in the U.S., around the world, and through any device.”

“We are excited to be extending our relationship with the world’s most successful sports brand,” said Stern.  “The digital age is upon us and ESPN has a keen understanding of the ways in which digital access and communication with our fan base will serve to deepen the relationship that has been established through television.”

The ABC Television Network will broadcast a minimum of 15 regular season games beginning on Christmas and continuing on Sunday afternoons starting in January. In addition, the maximum number of regular season appearances on ABC by the league’s top teams has been increased.  The postseason on ABC will include a minimum of 15 scheduled games, including the entire best-of-seven NBA Finals. All of ABC’s telecasts will continue to have time-period and broadcast exclusivity.

ESPN and ESPN2 will televise up to 75 regular season games – primarily on Wednesday and Friday nights. ESPN will also televise up to 29 playoff games, feature exclusive television coverage in the Conference Semifinals and showcase exclusive coverage of one of the best-of-seven Conference Finals each year.  In addition, ESPN will televise exclusive coverage of the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game, the NBA Draft and NBA Draft Lottery each season, and feature coverage of the yearly NBA Pre-Draft Camp via ESPNU.

Also included in the deal are expanded cut-in and in-progress highlight rights to enhance ESPN’s news and information programming.

ESPN’s unprecedented digital rights now include:

  • Content across all media, including future platforms;
  • Ability to include ESPN and ABC games and studio programming in any ESPN offering, on a live, delayed and on-demand basis and in an interactive format;
  • Use of NBA-licensed content in multi-sport programming;
  • Ability to simulcast full NBA games live on ESPN360.com and ESPN Mobile TV;
  • Continued development of GameCast, fantasy games and interactive applications, as well as ESPN content and programming integration into EA Sports video games;
  • Use of NBA-licensed content in user-personalized features on ESPN platforms.

 

Fans are consuming sports in new ways and the NBA and ESPN are digital media leaders.  For example:  this past season fans watched NBA-related video on ESPN.com an average of four million times per week; during the playoffs, an average of more than 1.1 million daily users collectively generated 282 million page views of NBA content on ESPN.com via computers and wireless devices; fans used ESPN.com’s Lottery Mock Draft more than 30 million times; and, major NBA news stories on ESPN.com are read by more than three quarters of a million fans.

 

The new contract provides extensive new rights for ESPN International for game and studio telecasts to Latin America (South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean), the Middle East, Africa, Oceania (Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands), cruise lines and studio programming to Europe.  Highlights:

 

  • Latin America – two games per week during the regular season with an  additional 12 Wednesday night games (total of 24 games per season), select playoffs, the All-Star Game and the NBA Finals to Brazil and – for the first time – to the Caribbean;
  • Middle East/North Africa – two games per week with an additional 16 Wednesday night games (total of 24 games per season), select playoffs;
  • Sub-Saharan Africa – two games per week (Wednesday and Friday), select playoffs, the All-Star Game, All-Star Weekend programming and the NBA Finals;
  • Oceania – two games per week (Wednesday and Friday), select playoffs, All-Star Game, weekend All-Star Programming, NBA Finals and NBA Draft;
  • Europe – first-time rights to the domestic NBA Fastbreak news and information show;
  • expansive digital media rights in ESPN’s regions;
  • added flexibility to pick games of local interest throughout all of ESPN’s international networks.

 

NBA rights are also included for ESPN Radio, ESPN Classic and ESPN Deportes, including:

ESPN Radio:

  • Broadcast rights for a minimum of 15 regular-season games, 32 playoff games (including both Conference Finals and the NBA Finals), the NBA All-Star Game and related events, and the NBA Draft;
  • Live streaming on ESPNRadio.com;
  • Continued satellite radio distribution rights.

ESPN Classic:

  • Additional classic games to be televised each week;
  • More NBA-themed programming stunts;
  • Continued carriage of vintage NBA programming.

ESPN Deportes:

  • Live simulcast rights for all ESPN and ESPN2 pre-season, regular-season and post-season games;
  • SAP rights for all ABC regular-season and post-season games;
  • Re-air rights for all seven games of the NBA Finals;
  • Enhanced digital media rights for ESPNDeportes.com.

 

ESPN and ABC have telecast NBA games, playoffs and The Finals in the current NBA television deal since 2002. ABC Sports also broadcast the NBA from 1968 to 1973 and ESPN from 1982-84.



Stephen Jackson pleads guilty to charge

25 06 2007

By TOM MURPHY, Associated Press Writer
Wed Jun 20, 12:26 PM ET

INDIANAPOLIS – Stephen Jackson pleaded guilty Wednesday to criminal recklessness for firing a gun outside a strip club and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and perform 100 hours of community service.

In exchange for the guilty plea, the Golden State Warriors player had a one-year jail sentence suspended, and the judge ordered him to serve a year’s probation. Two misdemeanor counts of battery and disorderly conduct were dismissed as part of the agreement with prosecutors.

Jackson said he was happy the case was finished.

“It’s a position I put myself in, but I thank God that it’s over with,” Jackson, dressed in a dark suit with no tie, said after the hearing.

Jackson was arrested with two other men outside Indianapolis’ Club Rio on Oct. 6 while he was playing for the Indiana Pacers. He told police he fired shots in the air to try to break up a fight. The original criminal recklessness charge carried a prison term of six months to three years.

Jackson was traded from the Pacers to Golden State in January.

In February, Deon Willford, who hit Jackson with a car during the incident, was convicted of felony battery in a bench trial and sentenced to two years in prison, two years on probation and 100 hours community service.

Willford was ordered by the judge to pay some of the costs of $1,400 worth of dental work Jackson needed after the fight. Jackson chipped some teeth and had to have plastic surgery on his lip.

Willford hit Jackson with his car after the fight started. Willford claimed self defense at his trial, testifying that Jackson was walking toward his car and pointing a gun at him.

Other witnesses said Jackson was walking away from Willford’s car and had no weapon out when he was hit. Jackson testified at the trial that he was hit after he fired shots in the air from his pearl-handled 9 mm pistol to try to break up the fight.

Jackson’s attorney told the judge that Jackson’s athletic ability allowed him to leap out of the car’s path and avoid more serious injuries.

The third man charged, Raymel Mattocks, pleaded guilty last month to possession of marijuana and was fined $1,000 and given a 60-day suspended sentence.

The fight started after Willford’s cousin, Quentin “Fingers” Willford, got into an argument with a group of people who accompanied Jackson to the club.

That group includes current Pacers player Jamaal Tinsley and Marquis Daniels, who were not charged. Both face charges in a separate bar scuffle that police say happened Feb. 6.

At the time, Jackson was on probation for his role in a brawl between Pacers players and Detroit Pistons fans in 2004. Jackson pleaded no contest to misdemeanor assault and battery charges in September 2005 for his role in the 2004 brawl.

A Michigan judge ruled that the Indiana charges constituted a violation of Jackson’s probation.

Link



19 06 2007

San Antonio Express-News An open letter to Bruce Bowen: Dear Bruce,

My family watched you on TV the other night. We’re not sure if you actually climbed inside the shorts of LeBron James, but it sure seemed like it.

Just about every time LeBron rose up, we saw a hand in his face. Yours. I’m not sure he could have been guarded any better if you’d been surgically attached to his neck.

The Next Jordan is thinking about next year. Guy makes 10 of 30 shots from the field in Game 4 of the NBA Finals and, yes, it’s time to re-evaluate.

LeBruce took LeBroom and gave LeBron a LeSweep.

You had help, of course. But still, on the day you turned 36 you put the squeeze on a 22-year-old wonder.

Congratulations. It’s been a great month. On June 9, your wife Yardley gave birth to another son, Ozmel. Five days later, you won your third ring and blew out some candles.

You Spurs may be small market, but you sure know how to throw a big party.

On the front page of Friday’s paper, just below the word, “DYNASTY,” Tim Duncan and Tony Parker each held trophies aloft with one hand. They embraced with the other.

You’re in the background, as usual, head turned from the camera, enjoying the moment.

And really, that’s why I’m writing. Away from the camera, you do so much for this city and its children.

Alarmed by the high rate of obesity in San Antonio, you started a Get Fit with Bruce and Buddy program. The idea was to help kids lead healthier lifestyles. Many have benefited.

You participate in the Elf Louise program that provides Christmas gifts to children from low-income families.

Through the Bruce Bowen Foundation, you give scholarships to those who can’t afford to attend college.

You read to kids in elementary school. You encourage teens in high school to attend college and dream big.

Once, before you got married, I saw you slip into the back of a local church with four or five young boys in tow.

It seems like you work on the body, mind and soul of our youth.

No surprise, then, that this newspaper named you its Sportsman of the Year in 2005.

From Spurs beat writer Johnny Ludden on Christmas Day of that year: “The NBA requires each player to make 12 community appearances each season. With a week left in 2005, Bowen has made 44.”

By the end of the 2005-06 season, I bet you were up to around 100 appearances.

I did not see this coming. When we met in 2001 — back when I was a sports columnist — you seemed bitter and eager to prove your former coach in Miami wrong. Pat Riley had dismissed you as a one-dimensional player. And you told me, “It’s a shame I got that label — ‘defender.’”

I did not see a selfless, give-back-to-the-community Spur. I saw a guy who wanted to score and change his reputation.

Before long, you changed my perception. You embraced your defensive role, and set an example for kids everywhere.

You went back to college. During the 2003 playoffs against the Los Angeles Lakers, you even took a final exam at UTSA.

On the road, you studied in the team hotel. You decided if you were going to tell kids to go to college, you’d better finish what you started at Cal-State Fullerton and get a degree.

Your UTSA professor told Ludden that you “wanted to impact children’s lives and let them know there’s a dream out there they can reach.”

You had a big dream once. But no NBA team wanted you when you finished college ball.

Despite rejection, you persevered and finally got your chance. Now you’re one of the league’s best defenders, and a champion for children. So here’s to you, Bruce. And here’s hoping you’re as great to Ojani, almost 2, and Ozmel as you’ve been to the kids of San Antonio.

Happy Father’s Day,

Ken Rodriguez



I heard Dairy Queen needed some summer help.

19 06 2007

“Yes, the ratings aren’t where we’d like them to be. But our partners are very satisfied with the product, with the state of the business, with the improvement of our player reputations, and with the sophistication of our marketing. We think we are in a good place. Not as good as where we want to be, but if we ever say that we are happy where we are, it is time to get another job.”

-David Stern – NBA Commissioner

Don’t tease us like this Mr. Stern.



New Rules for 2008

17 06 2007

Suggestions for new rules for 2008:

Okay, the new basketball idea was stupid. Send us your ideas for new basketball rules for 2008.

Here’s one from North County Times:

Since the basket can’t be made smaller, maybe NBA commissioner David Stern could implement a rule penalizing players for taking more than two steps without dribbling. The refs would call it “traveling.” Nah, that wouldn’t work.



UPDATE – Kobe out of the playoffs, staying in LA, and still needs attention

17 06 2007

Kobe Bryant wanted out of LA.

He talked to Phil Jackson, now he wants to stay.

I’m sure Phil wanted him to stay. You see how quickly Phil bailed out of Chicago when he lost both of his stars there. Leaving them to flounder to a .260 record. That would have killed his now 70.0% winning percentage. (The highest active coach is Avery Johnson at about 77%)

Phil was on his knees, begging, pleading Kobe not to go. If he does, Phil won’t be far behind.

It’s sad with so the performances of so many potentially great young stars in this years playoffs that ‘Showtime’ still has to try and steal the spotlight.

UPDATE -Here it is… the Spurs shining moment.  The NBA Championship, and crybaby still needs his name in the headlines.

KOBE GROW UP!



Will the only thing good to come out of 2007 be the draft?

16 06 2007

Bruce Arthur, National Post

Published: Saturday, June 16, 2007

CLEVELAND -Your honour, we submit this petition as fans of the game of basketball, and the National Basketball Association. We take no joy in it, which, as you will see from our case, is a trend.

But we ask you today to strike the 2006-07 NBA season from the record, as it was among the most disastrous in the 61-year history of the Association. It was a debacle, beginning to end. The San Antonio Spurs will be allowed to keep their championship, and certain isolated highlights will be kept for posterity. But the rest, we ask you to consign to obscurity. The game deserves no less. Here is our case.

The NBA, like any 61-year-old, has had good years and bad years. This was like the year you default on your mortgage and break your hip.

It actually began a week after the conclusion of the 2006 Finals, when the NBA announced that it was changing the only significant piece of equipment the league uses. The new composite ball, pictured, was heralded by NBA vice-president Stu Jackson as “a better product.” (If there is a more reliably wrong person in sports than Stu, they have yet to be discovered.)

Except nobody at the NBA asked the players. The ball’s test-drive consisted of ex-players and current TV analysts Reggie Miller, Steve Kerr and Mark Jackson fooling around with the ball for 90 minutes in an empty Madison Square Garden. As players, Miller and Kerr barely ever dribbled.

Shockingly, current players hammered the ball for not bouncing properly and for causing tiny cuts in their fingers. Shaquille O’Neal summed it up by telling Time magazine that “Playing with the new ball is like going to a gentlemen’s club, seeing an exotic dancer and then going home and playing with a plastic blow-up doll.”

They did change it back in mid-season. But that was the NBA in a nutshell this season.

Speaking of strippers ? The starting gun, as it were, was fired by Indiana Stephen Jackson, in the parking lot of a strip club during training camp. The actual season began with the Miami Heat opening a disgraceful season as undefending champions by getting nipped by 42 at home to Chicago on the night they raised the banner and received their championship rings.

Shaq would eventually undergo knee surgery, coach Pat Riley would take a couple months off to have surgeries of his own — he aggravated his knee and hip problems by kicking a door in frustration — and the Heat would be quietly swept in the first round, again at the hands of Chicago.

The league’s other short-lived change was a crackdown on player complaints. After a spate of early technicals and a ridiculous threat from the players’ union to sue over the move, the standards relaxed by the second month of the season, until respected ref Joey Crawford tossed San Antonio’s Tim Duncan from a game late in the season for laughing on the bench. Crawford was suspended for the rest of the season, and may never return. The bitching and whining, meanwhile, never really left.

The season itself was marred by injuries to stars and rising players such as Yao Ming, Michael Redd, Paul Pierce, Dwyane Wade, Shaq, Ray Allen, RashardLewis, Joe Johnson, Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, Kenyon Martin, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Shawn Livingston, Andrea Bargnani Tony Allen, Jermaine O’Neal, Emeka Okafor, Nene, Richard Jefferson, Jason Richardson, and most of the Milwaukee Bucks and New Orleans Hornets. That is a partial list.

Then there was the effort. The league’s future flagship superstar, LeBron James, essentially coasted on his vast talent for the first four months of the season and only turned it on after the All-Star break. That weekend was a debacle in itself, as Las Vegas was overrun by criminals — at least in the minds of some — creating a controversy over race and the NBA and hip-hop culture. Oh, and the game itself resembled a 48-minute hangover.

Even the one so-called brawl was subpar, as one of the league’s other bright lights, Carmelo Anthony, was suspended for 15 games for a silly slap at the Knicks’ Mardy Collins at Madison Square Garden, after which he backpedalled 70 feet to avoid repercussions.

As the season wore down, the tanking epidemic began, as teams tried to position themselves for a shot at draft prizes Greg Oden and Kevin Durant. Teams such as Boston, Milwaukee and Memphis basically pulled the chute on the season, culminating when Boston left its starters on the bench while blowing an 18-point lead, at home, to the Charlotte Bobcats, who finished with 33 wins. Afterwards, Boston coach Doc Rivers said “I was not throwing the game or anything like that.” Doc got a contract extension, at US$5-million per year, last week. And Boston didn’t win the lottery.  Sure, Toronto had a dream season, but the league’s best team, the 67-win Dallas Mavericks, flamed out in the first round to the thrilling Golden State Warriors. The rookie class was dishwater weak. The MVP award went to Dallas’s Dirk Nowitzki, who shot .383 in his team’s upset loss to Golden State, and who gravely accepted the award a week after his humiliating exit from the post-season.

The playoffs, so scintillating last season, were the final flaming tire on the whole stinking pile. As they began, an academic study claimed subtle but measurable racial bias in NBA refereeing, which the league had to vigorously dispute. Then came the suspensions.

What could have been an all-time second-round series, between the two best teams left standing was instead decided, essentially, by a dirty foul from the Spurs’ Robert Horry on Phoenix’s Steve Nash. The ensuing altercation never even came close to being a fight, and Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw never came close to trouble. But the league went by the letter of the law, suspending them for Game 5 of the second-round series with San Antonio. With that, the league ruined the series, and put an asterisk on the playoffs.

Appropriately, The Finals between Cleveland and San Antonio ended with an unwatchable defensive struggle, including the second-lowest scoring Finals game of the shot-clock era, and the lowest TV ratings since they started measuring them. Sure, there was LeBron’s iconic 48-point game in the conference finals, and there was the lightning in a bottle that was Golden State. And that was it.

Maybe we should have known it was not the NBA’s year when one of the league’s few true titans, Red Auerbach, died before the season began at the age of 89. The half-serious theory said he wanted to avoid the introduction of the Boston Celtics dance team, which was a move he never allowed during his 57-year association with the team.

Or maybe old Red, the smartest guy in the room right to the end, was just getting out while the getting was good.

So there you have it, your honour — a blight on basketball, a roundball wreck. How could it be worth remembering? With your help, your honour, we will all forget together, and we will never speak of this again.

barthur@nationalpost.com

© National Post 2007



All work and no play makes Popovich a winning coach.

16 06 2007

“We’re all still thrilled and trying to let it sink in, what’s been accomplished.  It’s been a great season with a bunch of great guys and wonderful for our city and so on and so forth, but life goes on. And as far as life goes, it’s the draft.”

- Greg Popovich



Tonight’s the night!

14 06 2007

The Spurs close out the Cav’s tonight.

Congratulation Spurs!

 2007 NBA Champions.

De Ja Vu…



The Shoe Finals!

13 06 2007

Adidas, quietly loving the NBA Finals.  Here was their chance for the Adidas star to take out the Nike star in the NBA Finals.

The world would witness Tim Duncan (Adidas) quickly dispatching of Lebron James (Nike).

Oh, how a few games can change everything.

As it turns out, Nike has stolen the show.  No, not Lebron.

The MVP of this series will be Tony Parker (Nike).