2011 NBA Draft Grades Are In The Books, But ESPN's Coverage Fell Flat On Its Face
Normally, ESPN dominates coverage of live events.
The network has prided itself on presentation of sporting events and draft coverage, but what happened night was an abomination to sports broadcasting everywhere.
If you were watching from the start, you saw that one of the first segments was Tom Penn talking about the NBA's labor situation.
In his laughable speech, he used his big board to outline the problems with the league, which was probably created from David Stern's hand-written note. The entire thing made it seem like the players are bleeding the league dry like leeches.
Penn said 22 of 30 teams were losing money. If you want to join me in my skepticism about the accuracy of that figure, feel free to do so.
After that, we get to ESPN's crack NBA Draft panel, which consisted of Stuart Scott, Jeff Van Gundy, Jay Bilas and Jon Barry.
Right there I have a problem.
First off, Scott is a hack who hasn't realized that his schtick wore off years ago, yet it didn't stop him from making corny jokes to anyone who would listen. The only thing he got in return was annoyed stares from his panelists all night long.
Secondly, Barry looked like he didn't even want to be there. He brought absolutely nothing to the table and he could have fallen asleep on the desk and it wouldn't have changed a single thing.
In fact, it looked like he was going to doze off at a couple points, as he kept leaning back in his chair. It was embarrassing to say the least.
I get why Bilas and Van Gundy were there, and I've learned to live with their faults as broadcasters, but where was Chad Ford during all of this? Ford is their preeminent draft expert, and somehow, he was no where to be found for most of the draft.
Did they lock him in a bunker with a smartphone and tell him to stick to Twitter? Not putting their best draft guy on the set was a crucial mistake, and something that has never happened during the NFL broadcast.
You don't have to worry though, because ESPN dragged Fran Fraschilla out of wherever he's been in the past year to talk about the foreign prospects in the draft.
When talking about Jan Vesely, the first thing out of his mouth was how he was going to win a slam dunk contest one day. I bet that statement got phones buzzing in draft rooms across the country.
Oh, and there were the factual errors.
During the interview with Spike Lee, the question asked to him stated that Carl Landry played for the Knicks. Oops.
It was met by a questionable stare from the movie director, who quickly mentioned Landry Fields, the player that should have been named.
The errors only got worse from there, because at one point, the "Toronto Trail Blazers" were on the clock according to Scott, who must have been on his own planet.
The entire broadcast was a total train wreck, and by the end of the first round, Scott was trying to do anything to inject any life into the panel, who just wanted to go home by then. It was painful to say the least.
All I can say is, none of this would have happened if TNT had the draft, like it used to.
This was an unappealing draft class, and if you put Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Chris Webber on a set, you are going to get compelling television.
These are men with personalities and chemistry, something the ESPN set was devoid of last night.
For a network that has built its empire off of its broadcasting prowess, last night's draft coverage was a slap in the face of every basketball fan that had to suffer through two rounds of miserable, uninspired commentary.
If ESPN isn't trying to retool its coverage today, it should be ashamed of itself.