NBA on TNT
|NBA on TNT|
Ernie Johnson Jr.
|Country of origin||United States|
|Running time||150 minutes+
Subject to change
|Original channel||TNT (1988-present)|
|Picture format||480i (SDTV),
|Original run||October 30, 1988– Present|
The NBA on TNT is Turner Network Television's coverage of the National Basketball Association, produced by Turner Sports. TNT's basketball broadcasts, which include a weekly doubleheader known as TNT NBA Thursday, the Inside the NBA studio show, as well as playoff coverage, are perhaps that channel's signature programs. TNT began airing NBA games in 1988, and aired games on multiple nights of the week (usually twice a week with sister network TBS airing another game on another night) until 2002. In the video game NBA 07, made by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 3 consoles, graphics for TNT's NBA games is seen when playing an exhibition, playoff, preseason, or seasonal game. A direct copy of TNT's graphics can also be seen on Cartoon Network's weekly basketball program, Run It Back, a program similar to Inside Stuff.
TNT airs many of the NBA's marquee games (the NBA All-Star Game, a full Conference Final, Opening Night games, and the vast majority of playoff games), and is regarded by many NBA fans as the equivalent of what NBC was during their coverage of the league. TNT would seem to be the preferred carrier to the NBA as well; from 2003 to 2005, TNT aired the Conference Final with the most interest from the national media (Spurs-Mavericks in 2003, Lakers-Wolves in 2004 and Pistons-Heat in 2005). TNT also airs most of the big games during the regular season (TNT aired a Lakers-Heat game for the third straight year in 2007), and TNT studio content is streamed to NBA.com via the TNT Overtime section.
The host of the NBA on TNT since its inception is Ernie Johnson Jr. Currently, Johnson is joined by Kenny "The Jet" Smith, Charles Barkley, and Shaquille O'Neal. The NBA postgame show which features the four, Inside the NBA, has gained popularity in recent years for the chemistry and banter they have. Occasionally, Johnson, Smith and Barkley are joined by Chris Webber, Kevin McHale, David Aldridge or Reggie Miller.
TNT's playoff coverage is nicknamed 40 Games in 40 Nights. In previous years, TNT and TBS aired doubleheaders opposite each other each night of the first round of the playoffs, with one network airing a doubleheader at 7:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. and the other network airing a doubleheader at 8:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. (all times Eastern).
TNT also carries exclusive coverage of one NBA Conference Final. Since the 2004 NBA Playoffs, TNT has aired the Eastern Conference Finals in odd-number years and the Western Conference Finals in even-number years, the pattern of which will continue until the expiration of its television contract. ESPN airs the other Conference Final, with weekend coverage of the ESPN covered series and the Finals being broadcast on ABC.
For the first round, TNT's coverage of the playoffs is not exclusive; local sports networks can still air the game. Only during the second round and the conference finals does TNT's coverage become exclusive.
Starting in 2000, the NBA spread out playoff series so that only two series would play per day (so as to avoid TNT and TBS competing for ratings). TNT would air doubleheaders on most weekdays, while TBS would air one doubleheader per week (in 2002, TBS aired doubleheaders every Tuesday night of the playoffs until the Conference Finals).
With the advent of the new NBA television deal in 2003 (which ended TBS' coverage), TNT has aired playoff games alone, including (in 2003 only) some weekday tripleheaders. The tripleheaders, which were criticized by both fans and many in the media, consisted of one game at 6:00 p.m., another at 8:30 p.m., and a final game at 11:00 p.m. After 2003, the NBA and TNT discontinued the tripleheaders, instead settling for a doubleheader on TNT and a single game on NBA TV simultaneously. However, when Turner Sports acquired NBA TV in 2008, the network abandoned airing the lone non-national Thursday game, instead leaving it up to the local sports networks. However, TBS may still air the start of the second game in case the ongoing first game on TNT extended beyond the tip-off time of the second game.
Other than their regular Thursday schedule, TNT also airs NBA regular season games on Martin Luther King Day, during which tripleheaders were still used. However in 2011, ESPN opted to air one matinee game on MLK Day, and NBA TV on the second matinee, leaving TNT to air the remaining two night games. In 2008, TNT broadcast on Christmas Day for the first time as Marv Albert, Mike Fratello and Craig Sager broadcast the game between Washington and Cleveland in Cleveland and Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller and Cheryl Miller broadcast the game between Dallas and Portland in Portland. TNT broadcast on Christmas Day again in 2011, when it broadcast the game between the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, the very first game of the 2011–12 season, as a result of a lockout. Albert (himself a former Knicks broadcaster) and Steve Kerr called the game.
Due to TNT's part in coverage of the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship beginning in March 2011, the league shifted over what would have been the Thursday night games in the third week of that month to Monday nights and they aired as part of ESPN's coverage instead. In addition, NBA TV's 'Fan Night' games gave way to TNT on select Tuesday nights.
Normally the studio crew of Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley would stay in the TNT Atlanta studios for all of the regular season and the first two rounds of the playoffs. However, in the 2010-11 NBA season the studio crew started taking their pre-game, halftime and Inside the NBA shows on the road in the regular season, specifically select games involving the Miami Heat on TNT, due to the heightened media coverage surrounding the Heat's acquisitions of LeBron James and Chris Bosh. The substitute studio hosts will also be on hand for Inside the NBA and the other game's pre-game and halftime presentations; the crew consists of Matt Winer, Chris Webber and Kevin McHale.
In July 2011, It was announced that Shaquille O'Neal will join as an analyst and signed a multi-year agreement.
Beginning with the Christmas Day game between the Celtics and the Knicks, all TNT graphics were repositioned to fit the 16:9 aspect ratio, which was first used on sister station TBS's Major League Baseball coverage. Thus for standard definition carriers, the games will be letterboxed to fit the screen. NBA TV, another Turner Sports entity, also moved to the 16:9 high definition reposition.
For the 2012-13 season, the NBA on TNT debuted an entirely new animation and graphics package, which includes the addition of timeout indicators shown above the team abbreviations on the scoring bug. In addition, Charles Barkley occasionally filled in as a game analyst for select games. During his studio absences, Chris Webber served as an interim studio analyst. On April 11, 2013, TNT experimented with a three-man booth, but without a play-by-play announcer, for the game between the Warriors and Thunder.
TNT rarely shows regular season games from the Toronto Raptors, the NBA's lone non-United States based franchise. This is because the Toronto market lies outside the network's saleable broadcast zone (TNT is not available in Canada, and Canadian viewership would not affect TNT's U.S. ratings even if it was available in that country).
Virtually all TNT games, regular season or postseason, are now simulcast in Canada via either TSN/TSN2, Rogers Sportsnet/Sportsnet One, or NBA TV Canada. However, any TNT coverage of Raptors postseason games is not aired in favour of team-produced coverage, as has been the case with all Raptors games in Canada since the early 2000s (decade).
The lead announcing team for the NBA on TNT is Marv Albert and Steve Kerr. They have been paired together on most nights since the 2003–04 NBA season, except during Kerr's tenure as Phoenix Suns general manager from 2006 to 2010. Albert and Kerr are joined by studio analyst Charles Barkley on select games. The second announcing team is currently Kevin Harlan and Reggie Miller, with Greg Anthony joining on occasion. Dick Stockton, who has been with TNT since 1995, is currently the third play-by-play man, calling select regular season and playoff games, and is usually paired with Chris Webber. Another occasional announcer is Matt Devlin. When not calling Toronto Raptors games, Devlin is usually filled in as play-by-play man on select games, particularly in the playoffs. Devlin is usually paired with Mike Fratello. Most recently Nets play-by-play man Ian Eagle has also filled in during the playoffs, primarily working with Anthony or his YES Network colleague Fratello.
Albert, Harlan and Eagle are all also play-by-play announcers for the NFL on CBS, and also work on the said network during expanded coverage of the NCAA Tournament produced jointly by CBS and Turner Sports. However Stockton, who used to be the lead play-by-play broadcaster for the NBA on CBS and other CBS Sports events in the 1980s, is currently employed part-time by Fox Sports as play-by-play for regional Major League Baseball and NFL coverage, though during the MLB playoffs, he calls one Division Series for TBS.
Doug Collins used to be the secondary analyst on TNT; he was also the lead analyst in his first stint with the network from 1989 to 1995, pairing with the likes of Bob Neal, Ron Thulin and Pete Van Wieren. In his second stint from 2003 to 2010, he was usually paired with Harlan during the regular season, but was also paired with Albert during the NBA All-Star Game and the Conference Finals. The original voice of the NBA on TNT was Bob Neal, who worked with the network from 1989 to 1995; he was also the original voice of the NBA on TBS. Other announcers who worked for TNT include Hubie Brown, Verne Lundquist, Chuck Daly, Danny Ainge, Rex Chapman, John Thompson, Jeff Van Gundy, P.J. Carlesimo and Gary Bender. Several prominent NBA analysts have chosen TNT over ABC or ESPN, such as Doug Collins and Charles Barkley (Barkley was not only approached by ABC about an NBA studio job in 2002, but as also rumored to have been approached for a job on Monday Night Football). Reggie Miller was also sought out by ABC and ESPN, only to go to TNT. Craig Sager and Cheryl Miller currently serve as the primary sideline reporters, with David Aldridge and Rachel Nichols filling in on select games. In the playoffs fill-in sideline reporters are used, with Tracy Wolfson, Marty Snider, Jamie Maggio and Dei Lynam currently hold the capacity.
The biggest TNT acquisition once sought out by ABC and ESPN was Marv Albert. After the 2002 NBA Finals, Albert, essentially a free agent, was a candidate for the lead spot on The NBA on ABC (which ultimately went to Brad Nessler). Albert, hired by TNT in 1999, decided to stay with the network. Some attributed this to the fact that TNT gave Albert his first chance to be on national television after the embarrassing sex scandal that forced his firing at NBC. Albert and Mike Fratello—both of whom worked as a team in the NBA on NBC's early years—would ultimately reunite on TNT.
Hubie Brown, Doug Collins and Jeff Van Gundy are currently the only former TNT announcers working for ESPN/ABC. Brown, whose role on TNT was going to be significantly reduced starting with the 2002–03 season, left in 2002 to coach the Memphis Grizzlies. After two seasons of coaching, he left Memphis in early 2004 (leading to the departure from TNT of lead analyst Mike Fratello, who replaced him in Memphis) and was quickly picked up by ABC. Jeff Van Gundy, who was fired by the Houston Rockets after they lost in the first round, joined ABC at the beginning of the Western Conference Finals. Doug Collins, who resigned from TNT to become the Philadelphia 76ers head coach in 2010, joined ESPN after resigning from the 76ers three years later. Part-time TNT broadcaster Mike Breen is now the lead broadcaster for ABC and one-time TNT analyst Doc Rivers worked for ABC in 2004. Kevin Calabro, a part-time TNT announcer for several years, became the full-time voice of the NBA on ESPN Radio in 2013. Meanwhile, Pam Oliver, the lead sideline reporter for NFL games on FOX Sports joined Turner Sports in 2004 as she would only be on during the NBA Playoffs, a role she fulfilled until 2009.
|1988-89 to 1989-90||$50 million/2 years|
|1990-91 to 1993-94||$275 million/4 years|
|1994-95 to 1997-98||$397 million/4 years|
|1998-99 to 2001-02||$840 million/4 years|
|2002-03 to 2007-08||$2.2 billion/6 years|
TNT extended its deal with the NBA in 2007. TNT's NBA contract is up at the end of the 2015–16 season, financial terms between the NBA and TNT were not disclosed, although the NBA will receive $930 million per year from all of its broadcasting partners (ESPN, ABC, ESPN Radio, and NBA TV).
- 1990 NBA Tuesday on TNT Intro on YouTube
- Old School Friday - SLAM Online
- Fang, Ken (9 May 2011). "TNT To Air Turner Sports’ 1,000th NBA Playoff Game on Wednesday". Fang's Bites. Wordpress. Retrieved 9 May 2011.
- Albert follows bouncing NBA from NBC to TNT
- NBA on TNT Theme Song Extended (Edited) (HQ) on YouTube
- Conversation with Trevor Rabin
- TV Music Museum
- NBA on TNT Theme (99-2000) on YouTube
- NBA on TNT Theme: "Excellence" on YouTube
- Inside Hoops - NBA TV Contracts