ESPN’s NBA Shootaround is to TNT’s Inside the NBA as Allan Ray is to Ray Allen (and it’s unfair that Allan Ray has to be in the same sentence as NBA Shootaround.) The drop-off from Thursdays on TNT to Fridays on ESPN is more pronounced and extreme than the drop-off from my hairline to the rest of my face. It’s just jarring.
Stu Scott is beyond self-caricature—it’s like self-cannibalization. Bill Walton is earnest to the extreme, and completely uninteresting. Stephen A. Smith is the best thing about the show, and he’d be about the number 17 basketball guy for TNT. He also picked Denver to win the Western Conference title. I love AI, I respect Melo, and I will eat my Detroit fitted hat collection if Denver wins the West.
On a positive note, occasionally they show basketball highlights, and if you turn off the sound you can enjoy the game for a few seconds.
The worst part is that ESPN has good people in their multimedia stable. Imagine if their coverage was anchored by Wilbon and J.A. Adande. Throw in Ric Bucher, Chad Ford, Hollinger—you might get some actual insight now and then. It’d really be something.