Friday, October 25, 2002

NBA ON NB......ESPN: Slam Links sends us over to this preview of the NBA's first season on ESPN:

"It's cool. It's happening," ESPN lead analyst Bill Walton said Wednesday as the network trumpeted a production that just might make some of us give up street luge.

"Our viewers want athleticism," said Jed Drake, an X Games guy who joined ESPN in 1980 and will be the executive producer for 76 regular season games, mostly on Wednesdays and Fridays, plus the first two rounds of the playoffs and the conference finals.

Drake said focus groups helped inspire jazzy new cameras, audio, graphics and animation. Hey, it can't hurt. Ratings on NBC sagged from 3.3 in 1999-2000 to 2.9 the past two seasons.

There will be a camera that hovers over the court. In time, there will be cams in the floor under the baskets. The theme music was composed by Boris Zelkin - yes, that Boris Zelkin, whose credits include the movies "Lion King," "Crimson Tide" and "Broken Arrow."

Wait, there's more.

"We will have an aggressive studio operation that will be more athletic- and performance-based," Drake said. "It's not necessarily who's leading at the end of the first half."

"It's cool. It's happening."--Bill Walton. Live in fear, NBA fans.

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