Anyone else noticed over the past year or two ESPN/ABC's NBA coverage has gotten a whole lot better. Gone are Bill Walton and Stephen A Smith. I think they have finally found a good studio show at ABC, Wilbon, Magic and John barry are pretty good - although Stu Scott still is annoying. Sure TNT's studio show is still a whole lot better than anything that ESPN or ABC has. But where I really see the improvement is the game broadcast. ESPN IMO is now as good as TNT's. I don't think it is by accident either as the guy who used to run TNT's NBA coverage moved over to ESPN/ABC two years ago (his name excapes me right now)
But with Hubie Brown, and Jeff Van Gundy/Mark Jackson - they rival anything TNT has. Although I give TNT credit, I think PJ Carlisimo is excellent. But I'm sorry blast me if you want, but I think Reggie Miller is awful - I almost can't watch the games he is doing.
Technically though I think ESPN is better than TNT - the sound I get on my TV is better on ESPN, the camera work - the replays - overall I think ESPN is better than TNT in the techincal dept.
Here is an article discussing SAS departure
By Michael Hiestand, USA TODAY
Stephen A. Smith now wants to talk to you about everything.
And that, he says, is why his last scheduled appearance on ESPN will be Thursday morning's First Take and his last day will be Friday: "I don't want to be in a situation where I'm limited."
Not that he's knocking ESPN. Smith says it made him offers in recent months "for an additional year or two" which he says he turned down before ESPN said simply that it was not renewing his contract. He says he won't look for new work until Friday, when he hopes he'll face "a plethora of opportunities."
He certainly got them at ESPN, where he started in 2003 and quickly popped up on various shows. The turning point was supposed to be his own signature Quite Frankly ESPN2 talk show, which debuted in 2005 with monstrous hype even by ESPN's standards.
At the time, Smith said he'd be "a cross between Bill O'Reilly and Larry King." (Think about that for a second. On second thought, don't.)
Al Jaffe, who oversees ESPN's on-air hiring and had been a judge alongside Smith on ESPN's Dream Job game show, back then said Smith was "a unique talent" with "huge upside." Sports Illustrated, before the show premiered, suggested Smith was already widely recognized as "the most despised sports personality on the air today … and the final triumph of bluster and confidence over content."
Turned out to be much ado about a show that produced next-to-nothing ratings. Now, Smith says the biggest problem was the show being shifted from its original 6:30 p.m. ET time slot to sometime around 11 p.m. ET — sometime, that is, after the live games leading into his show ended. Says Smith, of that show, which lasted 17 months: "I believe to this day if my show had a definitive time slot, it would have been more successful."
Smith's radio show on ESPN's New York affiliate came and went and he went back to popping up on various ESPN shows. But he kept getting noticed: An online video using a sock puppet meant to imitate Smith working the NBA draft — "You must talk to me!" it insisted — became an Internet hit.
And all that, he hopes, will lead to future on-air work he would like to include, but not solely focus on, sports.
Could happen. Plenty of TV sports types have gone on to broaden their on-air horizons. Smith now sees them as his role models. Like Robin Roberts — "I adore her" — and Bryant Gumbel — "I idolize him." He admires Keith Olbermann, another crossover case who has a largely political talk show on MSNBC while also working NBC's NFL studio and writing columns for mlb.com. But he says his ESPN exit is nothing like Olbermann's fiery 1997 departure and is instead a matter of wanting to branch out.
With ESPN, Smith was allowed to go on non-sports talk shows, but saw the limits to someone on ESPN dragging a famous sports brand into social or political debates: "I don't blame ESPN. It's a model that's worked for them to near-perfection. … They're the most successful sports conglomerate in American history."
Smith, when he began Quite Frankly, said "it's not that I always agree with black folks, but it's my responsibility to give their take." That made him really stand out, since the TV sports genre is generally squeamish about touching on racial issues and would usually prefer positioning sports as a color-blind meritocracy. And the TV sports genre is also squeamish about its analysts supposedly representing ethnic groups.
The New York Post this week opined Smith is "a self-promoting, race-based gasbag." But Smith, asked if he now sees himself primarily as a sort of spokesman, is low-key: "I'm not this voice, or that voice. But if people want to hear a perspective from the African American community that otherwise wouldn't be heard, I'd be honored to deliver that message."
He's glad that "finally people notice I don't scream nearly as much as I used to." (That resulted from his mother Janet forcefully asking him to "explain why you have to be so loud.") But he says silence isn't an option: "My aspiration is to have my own show again. I can't express to you how hungry I am for that opportunity."