NBA Draft: ESPN Needs To Draft a Few For Its Coverage

Rob CalongeAnalyst IJune 26, 2008

Watching the NBA draft on the Entertainment Sports Programming Network would've been mildly entertaining if it wasn't so painful to watch. Normally, I tend to have more disdain for the 'NOT ready for PRIME TIME' reporters interviewing the teams after their picks, but this group broadcasting from the WAMU center in Madison Square Garden needs an injection of chemistry.

Before I start my rant, let me just say that Mark Jackson and Jay Bilas have done a great job with their overall analysis and their ability to inject a little bit of life into the evening, but neither seem to know the other is even in the room. It's really not their fault so much as it is about the poor chemistry between all of them.

I try to limit my ESPN watching if I can, so would someone please tell me how long it's been since Stuart Scott has been even a little amusing? His cracks throughout the night haven't even stirred snickers from his co-panelists. Stu Scott is still a great anchor, so don't get me wrong about that, but maybe he should go back to SportsCenter, because as the NBA Draft host, he's not cutting it.

Not being funny has only been half of Stu's problem. He hasn't even tried to pretend that anyone else that he's working with has been amusing. Well, he tried to with an already off-camera Dick Vitale, but he's already off-camera Stu.

As the anchor of the telecast, Scott has got to be much better, or else they need to bring back Chris Berman. Yes, folks, it's pretty bad when I'm saying to bring "BACK, BACK, BACK" Berman.

The major culprit is Jeff Van Gundy. Never has a man made more off of hanging from another grown man's public, at least. Following Mark Jackson and preceding Jay Bilas doesn't help, either. His knowledge has been general and weak, and all of his comments seem to have caught the rest of the panel off-guard with how quickly they've ended.

Stu: Jeff, what do you think of the pick?

VG'dy: ((pause)) Well, this is, this is a guy who is a big man that can be tough in the paint.  ((pause))

Jay: ((slowly to full speed)) This guy....((long thorough analysis))

Another problem with the telecast has been Mr. Front Runner himself, Stephen A. Smith. I always thought he signaled the end of Fox Sports competing with ESPN, but to now be on ESPN has helped to lower NBA ratings in my household.  How this guy is still working on TV is beyond me, because he's horrible.

The first 15 picks they went to the front runner, sitting in fantastically over-sized chairs with the latest draft pick. The first five picks, he tried to make mention of how he'd already talked to them the day before as if he and the pick were longtime friends. Does anyone else see through this hack? Is it just me?

After those five, it was evident he didn't have a clue who he was talking to.

Front Runner:  So how does it feel to have been picked by [insert team here]?

Draft Pick:  [Insert politically correct statement]

FR:  What do you bring to [insert team here]?

Draft Pick:  [Insert politically correct statement]

FR:  Are you saying you're going to [win/start, you pick]? Hahaha!

Yeah, FR, what have you brought to the telecast? Weight-control I suppose, because after every time you were on, I felt the sudden urge to regurgitate my dinner.

From the network that invented the televised NFL Draft, I expect better. I also expect better from the network that invented 24-hour sports coverage, but I especially expect more from a league that makes billions of dollars every year selling a game built around teamwork.


Rob Calonge is a writer for Bleacher Report and Normally, you'll find him writing about the Raiders, Warriors, and Sharks. You can usually find him on Thoughts from the Darkside, an Oakland Raiders independent media site.