Draymond Green should have his own Manningcast show during non-Warriors NBA games

Draymond can talk. Give him another show

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green is a world-renowned talker. Whether he’s talking smack, trash, or just bumping his gums because he has them, it’s rare to not hear something he’s said somewhere floating around the internet. We’ve heard from Green year-round since starting his podcast, The Draymond Green Show. Maybe we can get a Dray-cast where he does commentary for basketball games when he’s not playing.

Something similar to what the Manning brothers have done the past couple of seasons during Monday Night Football. Of course, Green probably couldn’t do it during the regular season in the NBA while he’s still an active player, but maybe he could start by calling summer league games. His podcast already gets a ton of attention, and Turner Sports is always looking for more content, so why not throw Draymond out there and let him crack jokes during summer league as a test run?

Draymond has carved out a niche off the court

The way players troll each other on social media these days, why not bring that energy to live television and let Green loose on another platform? He already does stuff during the All-Star break and other times if he’s not playing. He’s already carved out his niche in “new media,” so calling games could be the next step.

In all seriousness, Green already gives outstanding analysis and can break down the game at every level. He’s one of the brightest minds in basketball among active players, and he’s “best friends,” with LeBron James. He’s also a Klutch Sports client. Imagine Green and James doing a special Dray-cast in a couple of years once in retirement. This could happen much sooner than people realize with James’ recent revelation about retirement following the Nuggets’ sweep of the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. FYI…LeBron isn’t retiring. It’s Hollywood; he’s an actor. Don’t fall for the okie doke.

Hopefully, this Dray-cast idea catches on. Green has a lot to say, and it would be brilliant of Turner Sports to put him on live TV and let him go off. Now that’s entertainment. 

Sure, the Boston Celtics won but they still have a Jaylen Brown problem

Dragging the C’s down

The Boston Celtics rose to their feet, spit out the blood, wiped their mouths, and got back to fighting in their Eastern Conference Finals series against the Miami Heat. Down 3-0 after getting the snot knocked out of them on Sunday night, they got their first win of the series with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown playing much more like their All-NBA selves.

Both were huge in the second half with some key plays. Brown was able to get to the rim and draw some fouls in the fourth quarter. Tatum played by far his best game of the series. He found his offense and scored 27 of his 33 points in the second half. The Celtics won 116-99 to push the series to Game 5.

Tatum playing like the best player was a welcome change for the Celtics in this series. Even though he scored 30 or more points in Game 1 and 2, he didn’t score a single fourth-quarter point in the Eastern Conference Finals until Tuesday night. His 12 in the fourth helped put the lead out of reach.

Jaylen Brown was C’s most consistent player pre-ECF

As well as he has played at moments in these playoffs, before the conference finals began the Celtics’ most consistent player was Brown. Through two rounds he was averaging 24.6 points per game on 54.1/47.1/69.8 shooting splits.

Brown scored 22 points in the Celtics’ Game 1 loss, but only four came after the 10-minute mark of the fourth quarter. He took a spill when his left elbow crashed into Bam Adebayo on a drive, and as he hit the ground the Heat’s big man fell on his right hand. A hand that Brown had stitched up after an accident that took place at his home 10 days before the start of the playoffs. Brown clutched his elbow after the hit, and with 4:47 remaining in the final quarter Turner Sports’ Allie LaForce reported that the wound had reopened and the bleeding was substantial.

In the next two games, Brown shot less than 36 percent from the field, and went a combined 1-14 from the 3-point line. With Brown’s offense tanking after the injury, and Tatum’s fourth-quarter goose eggs, the Celtics’ offense has not been able to perform well enough to contend with Heat’s net scorching shooting. They shot 54.3 percent from three as a team in that Game 3, 128-102 blowout.

Miami goes cold

A cold snap went through the Heat’s scintillating offense in Game 4. The Heat shot 25 percent from behind the arc while the Celtics were in the groove from long range, shooting 40 percent from back there as a team. Combine that with Heat’s 15 turnovers — four consecutive during one stretch in the third quarter — the night belonged to the men in the green jerseys.

Surely the Celtcs breathed a momentary sigh of relief after the final buzzer, but their biggest problem has not been solved. Most of Brown’s 17 points came at the rim, including several fast breaks. He was 1-of-5 from the 3-point line.

The Celtics have been forced to attempt to accomplish what appears to be impossible. For them to turn this series into a Tom Cruise franchise by coming back from a 3-0 deficit, they need their second-best player to be a factor shooting the basketball. Brown scores on slashes and jump shots. His ball-handling deficiencies do not allow him to serve as a playmaker when his shot is not falling.

He has 48 hours to try and get his upper extremities in order. If he can’t, the Celtics’ season will end on Thursday night.

ESPN spent millions on Pat McAfee in the middle of company-wide layoffs

ESPN’s newest talking head

You have to spend money to make money. But you can’t save money if you keep spending — unless you’re ESPN.

On Tuesday, “the worldwide leader in sports” officially announced that Pat McAfee would “expand his multiplatform ESPN role as ‘The Pat McAfee Show’ moves to ESPN this fall.” McAfee is continuing his role on College GameDay and will host various college football broadcasts. His show will air live on weekdays on ESPN, ESPN’s YouTube Channel, ESPN’s app, and ESPN+.

Pat McAfee walks away from $120 million FanDuel deal

Over the last few years, McAfee has been one of the biggest names in the industry. The former Indianapolis Colts punter is cashing out in his post-playing career, as he’s walking away from a four-year $120 million deal he had with FanDuel. He might be the highest-paid talent at ESPN, given that it wouldn’t make sense to walk away from a gig that was paying him $30 million annually unless he was getting a raise at his new job. And if we assume that McAfee is making more at ESPN than he was at FanDuel — details of the contract haven’t been made public — his potential contract, that’s more than likely worth more than $30 million per year, leads the clubhouse when it comes to household names at ESPN.

Let’s take a look:

This is going to be a PR nightmare for ESPN

It appears that McAfee will sit atop the class when it comes to yearly and total compensation. Congratulations to him, especially since ESPN was willing to throw him the bag. But, here’s the problem — this is going to be another public relations nightmare for the company.

“Pat is a proven talent. He and his team have built The Pat McAfee Show into one of the most engaging programs in sports and all of media,” said ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro about the signing. “It’s a destination for athlete interviews and breaking news, and the centerpiece of a growing community of sports fans. We’re honored to bring Pat and the show to ESPN through a multifaceted, multiplatform approach.”

McAfee’s contract doesn’t line up with what Pitaro has said in the past — a man who has a long history of saying one thing and doing another.

“As we advance as a core segment of Disney, with operational control and financial responsibility, we must further identify ways to be efficient and nimble,” Pitaro wrote in a company memo last month, as ESPN is amid rolling layoffs that will cut 7,000 jobs and $5.5 billion in costs. “We will continue to focus our workforce on initiatives that are most closely aligned with our critical priorities and emphasize decision-making and responsibility deeper into the organization.”

What about layoffs?

“I do not want to minimize the enormous toll of saying goodbye to dedicated colleagues that have worked tirelessly to strengthen ESPN and deliver for sports fans,” added Pitaro.

How do you get rid of that many people and positions in hopes of saving that much money, while acquiring someone who costs as much as McAfee?

Make it make sense (cents)…and dollars.

“People are looking over their shoulders. People are concerned, ‘Will I be next?” former longtime ESPN employee Howie Schwab once warned. “People don’t approach ESPN the same way they used to, from some of the veteran people I’ve spoken to. It’s really disappointing. Because ESPN was a great place to work.”

Again, this isn’t on McAfee, as he didn’t do anything wrong — besides being the biggest amplifier of Aaron Rodgers’ fake news. It’s on Pitaro, ESPN, Disney, and the rest of the industry.

Also on Tuesday, layoffs began within Turner Sports/Warner Bros. Discovery, as some employees in production were laid off without any notice. Back in October, TNT’s “Inside the NBA” crew of Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Shaquille O’Neal, and Charles Barkley all signed long-term contract extensions. And in November, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav publicly said, “We don’t have to have the NBA.”

And earlier this week, Monday Morning Quarterback’s Senior Writer Albert Breer called the NFL out for their layoffs as revenues are going up, on top of the league agreeing to pay NBC $110 million for a one-year deal to broadcast a Wild Card playoff game on Peacock.

The high-priced talent who take these massive contracts don’t deserve to catch flack. Save that for the executives. The issue lies with the companies who lie about what they can and can’t afford, as if layoffs don’t have a trickle-down effect on the quality of production. A writer is nothing without an editor, in the same way, that on-screen talent is useless without a crew and a producer. You can’t have one without the other. Well, so we thought. The way things are going in this industry, one day there might not be anything left but talent who’ll be left useless because all the people they needed got laid off.

The NBA Playoffs have earlier start times from here on out — God is good

Maybe now we can get to bed on time

In 2015, I was in Los Angeles for the annual Online News Association Conference. It meant that as a Michigan native, I was up at 9:00 am PST to watch the Wolverines obliterate BYU 31-0 in a college football game that had a noon kickoff on East Coast time. That was also the day that I understood the craziness of time zones and start times for sporting events. Eight years later, the NBA has heard the cries of everyone who lives in Eastern and Central Time.

When the NBA conference finals start tonight — first with the Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets, followed by the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics on Wednesday — it will be a sign that Adam Silver understands how tired basketball fans have been every morning for the past few weeks, as start times for the rest of the postseason will be earlier.

Tuesday night’s ESPN broadcast of the Lakers/Nuggets game in Denver will start at 8:30 p.m. EST/7:30 p.m. CST, while Wednesday night’s TNT’s Heat/Celtics game will air at the same time.

This means that the Western Conference finals will begin at 6:30 p.m. when the games are in Denver and 5:30 pm when they’re played in L.A. If you live out there it might be smart to find a good happy hour spot after work where you can catch the games.

It’s also been announced that the NBA Finals will follow the same pattern, with the caveat that Game 2 and Game 7 — if necessary — will begin at 8:00 p.m. EST instead of 8:30 p.m. because they will be played on Sundays.

The NBA listens to its fans

“Our fans told us that earlier starts for Finals games are simply better for them,” Gregg Winik, NBA president, Content and Executive Producer wrote in a statement. “We’re excited to work with ABC to present the 2023 NBA Finals at a more optimal viewing time.”

“We’re proud to work closely with our NBA partners to deliver the NBA Finals on ABC for the 21st consecutive season,” said Julie Sobieski, ESPN senior vice president, Programming & Acquisitions in the same press release. “Our best-in-class coverage team is ready to showcase all of the action and excitement, now at earlier start times for fans.”

Is this an example of East Coast bias? Probably. But, it’s also good business, as the league is capitalizing on an exciting postseason that’s given it a much-needed ratings boost.

According to SportsMediaWatch, back in February, one of the league’s marquee events — the 2023 NBA All-Star Game — only averaged a combined 2.2 rating and 4.59 million viewers across TNT and TBS, making it the least-watched edition of the game. The report went on to say that the NFL Pro Bowl and MLB All-Star Game brought in bigger crowds. It was the last thing the league needed after not being able to crack the most-watched broadcast list of 2022. The highest-rated matchup from last season was Game 6 of the NBA Finals, which came in at 108th.

NBA playoff ratings are up

Things have started to turn around. According to the league, Game 7 of the Warriors/Kings series averaged 9.8 million viewers, making it the most-watched first-round NBA playoff game in 24 years. It was also ABC’s largest audience for a non-NBA Finals postseason game ever. The Warriors are always good for ratings. And last Thursday’s Game 6 between the Sixers and Celtics averaged 6.20 million viewers and was the most-watched game of the playoffs that did not involve the Warriors, according to Sports Media Watch.

And on Monday, the league announced that the Lakers and Warriors gave us the most-watched conference semifinals in almost 30 years.

Earlier start times allow for more sleep and can increase ratings. Now the NBA is praying for the next domino to fall in their favor — a Lakers/Celtics Finals matchup, which would be the 13th time Los Angeles and Boston were the last two teams, and time zones, standing. 

Lakers-Warriors Game 4 doubled as a West Coast DJ set

Whoever was in charge of the music during this one *chef’s kiss*

It is a shame that TNT has the Eastern Conference Finals this season. I have enjoyed New Edition at halftime during the Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers second-round matchup, and once the Miami Heat finish off the New York Knicks I do want to hear all of the Slip and Slide and Rick Ross catalogs. That being said, TNT needs to publish the playlist from this second-round series between the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers, because the song selections from those games can carry a July cookout.

Game 4 of Warriors vs. Lakers had a lot to live up to after the basketball excellence that was displayed in Phoenix on Sunday. Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, Nikola Jokić, and even Landry Shamet made shots at every angle on the protractor in Game 4.

That game was great, but it was the music from Game 4 of Warriors and Lakers that had me vibing in my apartment. For all of that basketball excellence from Sunday night, Alice Cooper and one member from Earth Wind, and Fire are not going to hit the same as the entire catalog of music stretching from the Bay Area to Los Angeles. When TNT broke out DJ Quik’s “Dollaz and Sense” in the second quarter, Twitter noticed that while Game 4 in LA was an important NBA Playoff game, it was also a party.

Even the song that the network played going back to the studio for halftime was perfect. The Warriors and Lakers were separated by only three points at the break, so the production crew came out of the commercial break with “California” by Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, E-40, and Too $hort.

The hits just kept on coming in the second half with the always pleasant and problematic “Ain’t No Fun.” “Cutie Pie,” may be a song from a group in Detroit — One Way — but the song is on the South Central soundtrack. If it’s good enough for O.G. Bobby Johnson then it was just fine to keep the vibes rolling on Monday night.

I could use the soundtrack of the most highly-anticipated series in the second round as further evidence of ESPN continuing to refuse to make a fun NBA product. The games don’t start anywhere near the scheduled time, and the studio show is a mashup of First Take and Pardon the Interruption, along with a Brinks truck of commercials and promos.

Instead of wallowing in decades-old complaints, I will search for West Coast hip-hop playlists until the 76ers and Celtics tip off on Tuesday evening. I might have even have to fire up A Thin Line Between Love and Hate on the T.V. after hearing LBC Crew’s “Beware of My Crew.”

I hope you East Coast folks were able to hang on after your bedtimes on Monday night. For those who didn’t, you missed all of the fun, from Lonnie Walker IV to Dr. Dre. Hopefully the Warriors can run off a couple of wins so the party can keep on going.

The NBA playoff ratings have been FANtastic

The games have been exciting, and the ratings are commensurate.

Well, Phil Jackson, it turns out that the NBA has not woked itself out of the American television landscape. Some news that you won’t find on the disingenuous provocateur in Nashville’s timeline is that the first round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs was a smash hit.

According to the NBA, TNT, ESPN, and ABC were the most watched networks in primetime by viewers 50 years old, and under for 13 of the 14 nights in which games were aired. The first round averaged 3.4 million viewers per night which was the highest for the NBA in nine years. Games on ESPN and ABC averaged 4.5 million viewers. That is the Disney family of networks’ highest-rated first round since they reacquired NBA broadcasting rights in 2002.

The crown jewel of the 2023 NBA first round was the Golden State Warriors against the Sacramento Kings. Draymond Green’s stomp, De’Aaron Fox’s fourth quarters, Stephen Curry’s greatness, the beam, the chaotic Game 4 ending, it all coalesced for a Game 7 that was the NBA’s most viewed first-round game since 1999. With an average of 9.88 million viewers, it was the highest-rated non-NBA Finals game on broadcast television since a memorable Game 7 in Sacramento 21 years ago — the final game of the Kings’ 2002 Western Conference Finals matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Let’s be sure to give the good people of Sacramento a round of applause. The crowd at Golden 1 Center played a huge part in making that series must-watch TV. They kept the tech bros from the Bay Area from buying up tickets turning their home stadium into a neutral site. A crowd bringing Kings fans type of energy always provides a significant boost to the viewing experience.

Also, as huge as those viewership numbers are, it is not like the NBA has been a struggling television entity. Sports Media Watch’s Jon (Paulsen) Lewis recently took a deep dive into the league’s regular-season nationally televised games and found that viewership has largely remained steady since the turn of the millennium.

There have been peaks like the four seasons when LeBron James played for the Miami Heat, and valleys like the mid-aughts when the league was putting out a weak product. Too many popular players such as Allen Iverson and Kevin Garnett were playing on teams that were not good enough to contend for an NBA Championship on a regular basis.

With all of the highs and lows of competing in the post-Y2K television industry, for the NBA to largely maintain its viewership, thereby increasing its market share of the ever-dwindling live television audience, the league has been a rousing success. Go ask ESPN executives how they would feel if Sunday Night Baseball did the same viewership numbers as the NBA. They would probably answer that they would lay out flattened cardboard boxes in the hallway and start spinning on their heads.

Certainly, the NBA has some work to do to prepare for the inevitable and also fast-approaching day when James retires. The league’s next biggest star is Curry, who turned 35 years old in March. The NBA is flush with talent, but no one else is famous enough to hawk Subway sandwiches with Zion Willamson constantly rehabbing from injury.

In America, any league that is not the NFL is going to need stars, and great storylines in order to resonate on a large scale. The NBA may not be able to promise that, but what it does have going for it though is it can confidently guarantee that nearly two million people will watch the games aired on major national television networks. Then come spring, there is always the chance for playoff viewership to catch fire like it has the last two weeks.

For those out there that would rather Black bodies simply dribble and not acknowledge the unequal share of decency and resources that people with their racial designation receive, the league is doing just fine without you all.