ESPN Continues to Grow With NBA Draft at Barclays Center
The NBA Draft tipped off in Brooklyn last night, and ESPN was there to cover all the festivities – from the Philadelphia 76ers taking LSU’s Ben Simmons first overall to all those trade rumors swirling around Marquette’s Jimmy Butler – as the exclusive broadcaster of the annual event.
However, with the NBA Finals going seven games this year, preparation for the Draft took a bit more creativity than in years past. ESPN staffers dedicated to Cleveland wrapped up Game 6 last Thursday and, with the broadcast equipment assigned to Quicken Loans Arena, traveled to Barclays Center over the weekend. Those that were covering Golden State at the Oracle Arena in Oakland hopped on red-eye flights following the Cavaliers’ Game 7 win Sunday night, arriving in Brooklyn Monday morning.
“We start going on the air Wednesday night so we have some space,” said ESPN Technical Manager Lee Kalinsky, speaking prior to last night’s Draft. “They’ve given us long enough where hopefully we’re all going to get it right, and we’ll keep getting it right.”
This year’s NBA Draft was the third for the nearly four-year-old Barclays Center, and ESPN returned a few tried-and-true production tools: overhead robotic cameras from Fletcher, an aerial camera system, three jibs, and an RF Steadicam. In total, ESPN had 18 cameras covering the Draft.
ESPN deployed Game Creek Spirit A and B to cover the Draft, and built two Avid Edit Systems in an office trailer with connectivity back to Bristol. Graphics for the broadcast, as well as an on-site touchscreen, were powered by Vizrt. In total, the network had approximately 150 staffers on site.
“The size of the show — not just for ESPN, but for the NBA — has grown tremendously from the Theatre at Madison Square Garden to going into an arena at Prudential Center then into the great facility at Barclays,” says Kalinsky, “so we’ve been growing over the years.”
ESPN had two sets on the Barclays Center floor. The main television desk featured Michael Wilbon working alongside NBA Draft analyst Jay Bilas and NBA analyst Jalen Rose. A second set featured NBA analyst Tom Penn and college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla using the touchscreen to breakdown various players.
“This show is so fun to work on, so fun to be involved with the folks at the NBA, and it’s just something that I love doing every year,” says Kalinsky. “I think everybody that works on the show — we have people that have been working on the show for lots of years — love coming back and working on it. It’s just one of those exciting big time events.”