Tuesday, May 13, 2008

NBA Playoff Coverage: TNT Vs. ESPN/ABC. Not Even Close

Many argue this year's NBA Playoffs are finally bringing excitement since the Jordan era.

There are many great story lines.

In the West:

Kobe finally winning his first MVP and now, the condition of his back.

Will the hard luck Jerry Sloan finally win a championship as a coach?

The emergence of Chris Paul and the feel good New Orleans Hornets.

Can the Champion Spurs finally repeat?

As for the Eastern Conference:

Jameer Nelson gives his Orlando Magic the death penalty by guaranteeing a Game 5 win on the road.

Detroit looking again like a championship team, even without Chauncey Billups.

Lebron and the Cleveland Cavaliers, where to begin? Bron Bron's horrific shooting while tying the series up 2 games apiece by getting his lack of support involved.

The Boston Celtics? Was their miraculous turnaround season simply a mirage? The absence of the so called "Big Three?"

One things for sure. ABC network executives are praying for a Lakers/Celtics finals.
And I'm sure everyone's hoping for a non San Antonio Finals.

As the Playoffs flip-flop (no pun intended on the flopping) between TNT and ESPN/ABC, one thing's for sure, the coverage is miles ahead on TNT.

First off, I rarely find myself waiting to stay up for any post game coverage for any sport. But with TNT's studio crew of Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and the always off the wall antics of Charles Barkley, it's worth the lack of sleep.

How can you possibly compare ESPN's crew of Stuart Scott, Michael Wilbon and Tim Legler? How much NBA Playoff experience can these guys warrant? Who even cares?
I will give props to Greg Anthony.

As for play by play and commentary? Marv Albert's one of the best and a NBA staple. Kevin Harlan's voice sounds very similar to Marv Albert and brings the same intensity. Doug Collins is very informative and speaks from great experience. Reggie Miller, probably could still play and I bet the Celtics are wishing he was coming off their bench, has been a very nice addition breaking down the games. And even though his wardrobe may hurt your eyes, Craig Sager appears to have a credible relationship with all the players.

As for ESPN...Do they have any other play by play guy other than Dan Shulman? The guy is everywhere from college basketball, the NBA and MLB. You have to wonder how this guy has a family life, he's obviously never home. Or, how has this guy not killed himself? Monday Night Baseball he has to team up with Steve "bonehead" Phillips and then call a Playoff game next to Doris Burke. Doris Burke! What the hell is she doing giving commentary on a Primetime NBA Playoff game? I'm fine with women's rights and equality, but come on! I thought women played their role as the hot sideline reporter. And by the way, Doris Burke is not hot. She may be informative and know all her stats, but she has no experience playing in the NBA (don't anybody ever start to compare the NBA to the WNBA) and her voice hardly brings any excitement to to the game. Honestly, can anyone really take a NBA game, or any professional sporting event, seriously when there's a female voice calling analyzing the game? Can you say Suzyn Waldman?

As for TNT's studio crew, I always find myself watching the Pregame, Halftime and Postgame analysis. Ernie Johnson's great, and he has the awards to prove it. Kenny Smith is always insightful, and he has the rings to prove it. And Charles Barkley, soon to be Governor or Mayor of any town in Alabama, is just freakin hilarious.

I find myself watching just to see if Barkley will show up. Sometimes he's even late even though he's in the same building.

One of Barkley's best jokes, "I gonna have glaucoma tomorrow, cuz I can't see my ass coming into work."

Last night, while on live TV, Barkley has his T-Mobile phone out on the desk trying to figure out how it works. Eventually the phone rings, reminiscent of the D-Wade press conference commercial.

Sir Charles even went off on "The Boston Three Party" by asking, "Why do we refer to these guys as "the big three? We all know the "real big three" is Bird, Parrish and McHale."

When Lebron James was fouled hard by Paul Pierce, TNT was the first to note that the Lady in the front row going off on Pierce and Kevin Garnett was Lebron's mom.

The funniest thing about this whole episode, Lebron looks older than his Mom!

TNT's "Gone Fishin" piece is great.

We've all seen "The Anchorman" teleprompter prank they pulled on Charles.

And then there was the Kenny Smith/Kobe Bryant jumping over the car skit.

Well done TNT, way to take out ESPN. If only you guys had the NBA Finals.

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