TNT Launching NBA Coverage Exclusively Featuring Former Players

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 19, 2017

TNT is set to introduce "Players Only" commentary teams for its NBA coverage during Monday night broadcasts starting in late February.

The Associated Press reported Thursday the three-player groups, which won't feature a traditional play-by-play voice, will be Brent Barry, Derek Fisher and Grant Hill, as well as Greg Anthony, Kevin McHale and Richard Hamilton. Lisa Leslie and Dennis Scott were selected as the sideline reporters.

Here's a look at the complete schedule of games for the "Players Only" format:

NBA on TNT: 2017 "Players Only" Broadcast Schedule
DateTime (ET)Game
Feb. 277 p.m.Raptors vs. Knicks
Feb. 279:30 p.m.Pacers vs. Rockets
March 68 p.m.Pacers vs. Hornets
March 610:30 p.m.Celtics vs. Clippers
March 138 p.m.Hawks vs. Spurs
March 1310:30 p.m.Lakers vs. Nuggets
March 208 p.m.Warriors vs. Thunder
March 2010:30 p.m.Knicks vs. Clippers
March 278 p.m.Cavaliers vs. Spurs
March 2710:30 p.m.Pelicans vs. Jazz
Turner.com

Turner Sports executive vice president and chief content officer Craig Barry provided a statement to the Turner Pressroom about the goal behind the new experiment.

"Our new Players Only franchise will allow us to provide a unique and compelling narrative surrounding the game through the distinct perspective and collective experiences of the former NBA player," he said. "We believe this original approach will offer deeper insights into the game, both on and off the court, along with broader access that will be entertaining for our passionate fans."

It's a more direct implementation of an idea that's been tried by CBS Sports and Turner Sports for the college basketball title game and ESPN with its Megacast for the college football title game. In those instances, however, there were additional options available to watch the contest.

TNT is going all-in on the idea of former players taking complete control of the broadcast. The most interesting factor will be how they are able to balance conversation and covering the game without a play-by-play broadcaster to play the proverbial role of point guard.

Beyond that, giving those notable names from years past the opportunity to analyze a game with each other sounds promising on the surface. There will likely be increased discussion on specific in-game topics and less focus on each play as it happens.

The format is going to receive some major moments in the spotlight, too. Key games between the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder (March 20) and Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs (March 27) are among the clashes on the docket for the in-season trial run.

                    

Editor's note: Bleacher Report is a property of Turner Sports.

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