ESPN Tips Off its 20th NBA Season with Full Court Press for “Premiere Week”

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ESPN Tips Off its 20th NBA Season with Full Court Press for “Premiere Week”

Prolific NBA Finals Team Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson Return for ESPN’s First Game of Season, ESPN Re-signs Van Gundy with Multi-year Deal

  • Lisa Salters Rejoins Breen, Van Gundy and Jackson as Sideline Reporter for NBA Finals, Marquee Games throughout Season Including Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks October 20
  • NBA Today Hosted by Malika Andrews Launches, New NBA Countdown Team Debuts, Hoop Streams with Cassidy Hubbarth Returns
  • Naismith Basketball Hall-of-Famer Hubie Brown Begins 50th NBA Season
  • Senior NBA Analyst Jay Williams to Appear Across ESPN Platforms

ESPN’s 20th season of NBA coverage begins the week of October 18 with a full-court press for a jam-packed “premiere week” as the league’s 75th Anniversary Season gets underway. ESPN will provide wall-to-wall, cross-platform coverage all week long surrounding its live game telecasts on Wednesday, Oct. 20, and Friday, Oct. 22. For ESPN’s 2021-22 NBA game schedule, visit ESPN Press Room. ESPN’s season-opening game schedule and commentator assignments are below:

Date Time (ET) Game Commentators Platform(s)
Wed, Oct 20 7:30 p.m. Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson, Lisa Salters ESPN, ESPN App
10 p.m. Denver Nuggets vs. Phoenix Suns Mark Jones, Richard Jefferson ESPN, ESPN App
Fri, Oct 22 7:30 p.m. Brooklyn Nets vs. Philadelphia 76ers Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, Cassidy Hubbarth ESPN, ESPN App
10 p.m. Phoenix Suns vs.

Los Angeles Lakers

Ryan Ruocco, Doris Burke ESPN, ESPN App

*ESPN’s season-opening game coverage is presented by State Farm as part of AT&T 5G Opening Week.

ESPN game commentators
Mike Breen, the voice of the NBA Finals and Curt Gowdy Media Award-winner, and analysts Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson return to call ESPN’s first NBA game of the season on Wednesday, October 20, at 7:30 p.m. ET as the Boston Celtics visit the New York Knicks. The trio have set records both collectively and individually as the most prolific voices of the NBA Finals and will be together for the top games during the regular season and NBA Playoffs. ESPN recently re-signed Jeff Van Gundy with a new, multi-year agreement and has all three commentators signed long-term. Lisa Salters will rejoin the trio as ESPN’s lead sideline reporter for its coverage of the NBA Finals, Conference Finals, NBA Playoffs, NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC presented by Oculus from Facebook series and NBA Christmas Day presented by State Farm games.

Naismith Basketball Hall-of-Famer Hubie Brown will begin his 50th season in the NBA between coaching and broadcasting. The legendary Brown returns for his 17th consecutive season as an ESPN NBA game analyst. Another Hall-of-Famer, Doris Burke, who is a Curt Gowdy Media Award-winner, returns to ESPN for game coverage throughout the season. Van Gundy, Jackson, Brown and Burke lead ESPN’s deep roster of game analysts, which will also include Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter this season. In addition to Breen, Mark Jones, Dave Pasch and Ryan Ruocco, who return as ESPN’s core play-by-play broadcasters, Brian Custer and Beth Mowins will call the action for select games. ESPN sideline reporters include Salters, Cassidy Hubbarth, Malika Andrews, Jorge Sedano, Rosalyn Gold-Onwude and Katie George. ESPN NBA game commentators will appear on site, health and safety permitting.

Jay Williams adds multi-platform NBA role
Jay Williams will add to his multi-platform ESPN role, beginning with “premiere week.” The former Duke standout will serve as senior NBA analyst and appear regularly across ESPN studio programming, including Get Up, First Take and SportsCenter. Williams will continue his role on ESPN Radio’s national morning show with Keyshawn Johnson and Max Kellerman.

New NBA Countdown team debuts
ESPN recently announced its new NBA Countdown team, featuring high-profile analysts Stephen A. Smith, Curt Gowdy Media Award-winner Michael Wilbon, Jalen Rose, and host Mike Greenberg. The quartet will also be joined frequently by Naismith Basketball Hall-of-Famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson. The team will make its debut live from Madison Square Garden ahead of the Celtics vs. Knicks game on Wednesday, October 20, at 7 p.m. during ESPN’s first night of regular season coverage. There will also be on-site updates within the 6 p.m. edition of SportsCenter leading into NBA Countdown. The show will generally emanate from ESPN’s Seaport District Studios in New York, N.Y. with select shows coming from ESPN’s Los Angeles Production Center.

The team of Kendrick Perkins, Richard Jefferson, Chiney Ogwumike and Michael Eaves will handle responsibilities for the Wednesday editions of NBA Countdown in February once ESPN’s NBA on ABC package is underway. NBA Countdown on ESPN is presented by Mountain Dew. For more information on ESPN’s new NBA Countdown approach, visit ESPN Press Room.

NBA Today Launches
As recently announced, ESPN’s new, weekday afternoon studio show NBA Today will debut during “premiere week.” NBA Today is hosted by Malika Andrews and will emanate from ESPN’s Los Angeles Production Center at L.A. Live. The show makes its debut on Monday, October 18, on ESPN2 and will make its ESPN debut on Tuesday, October 19, in conjunction with the first day of the NBA regular season. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is scheduled to join the NBA Today team on Tuesday, October 19 for an interview to tip off the league’s 75th Anniversary Season. Zach LaVine is slated for Wednesday and Damian Lillard is scheduled for Thursday. Also on Wednesday, October 20, NBA Today will reveal 25 members of the NBA 75 list of all-time greatest players.

NBA Today airs live from 3-4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and will travel to the site of marquee live events during the season and postseason. Analysts Richard Jefferson, Kendrick Perkins, Chiney Ogwumike and Vince Carter and reporters Adrian Wojnarowski, Zach Lowe and Ramona Shelburne will round out the cast of NBA Today. For more on NBA Today, visit ESPN Press Room.

Hoop Streams is back
Hoop Streams, ESPN’s digital NBA pre-game show, will return for its third season. Hoop Streams precedes marquee NBA games on ESPN and ABC throughout the regular season and postseason. Hoop Streams, hosted by Cassidy Hubbarth, will make its season debut during “premiere week” leading into ESPN’s first night of NBA game coverage on Wednesday, October 18, starting at approximately 6:30 p.m. The show is available on the ESPN App, and ESPN’s Twitter, Facebook and YouTube platforms. Hoop Streams previews the game action and provides expert commentary from analysts and reporters on the most compelling stories in the league.

Reporters
ESPN senior NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski leads a versatile team of reporters providing breaking news coverage across ESPN platforms. Wojnarowski will regularly appear on NBA Today, NBA Countdown, SportsCenter and other platforms contributing news and context. ESPN senior writer Ramona Shelburne and The Undefeated’s Marc Spears will also regularly contribute to ESPN’s studio programming during “premiere week.”

ESPN.com
On Monday, Oct. 18, Senior NBA Writer Zach Lowe will spotlight the five most intriguing players to watch this season. Then, ESPN.com will outline the season outlook for all 30 teams in its opening night Power Ranking, projecting the highs and lows for contenders and lottery-bound teams alike.

Later in the week, Senior NBA Writer Brian Windhorst examines four title aspirants seemingly stuck in suspended animation – the Sixers, Nets, Clippers and Nuggets – and how they are navigating ambition with reality. In addition, as LeBron James embarks on season 19, ESPN.com charts all of the milestones within reach for the multi-time champion and MVP.

Marketing
The NBA on ESPN Brand Marketing team’s goal for the 2021-22 NBA season is to implement a custom music strategy to story tell key moments, further embed culture into ESPN’s NBA platform and get fans excited for weekly matchups. The team partnered with music label EMPIRE, to remix ‘Say Go’ by rapper D ‘Smoke for the opening week topical and is also scheduled to release a custom song and social hype video with rapper Money Man.

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Shakeemah Simmons-Winter

I am a senior publicist for men’s pro sports, working predominantly with the NBA and FIBA properties. I’m a Jersey City, NJ native, so I cheer for all New York sports and athletes, win or lose. I began my sports career as a small forward for JCPS #9’s elementary basketball team, and then years later gave up my hoop dreams (sort of) to work as the Public Relations Coordinator for the New York Knicks. Prior to working in sports, I briefly worked as an intern turned production assistant for the Wendy Williams Show. I earned a B.A. in Communications from Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, where I met my husband Matthew, and later attended New York University to earn a M.S. in Public Relations and Corporate Communications. I am excited to continue my sports journey with some of the most knowledgeable professionals in the sports industry.
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