ESPN to Offer Retro Telecast of NBA75 Celebration Game

Example of scoreboard presentations to be used in broadcast:Top left: 1960s (1st Quarter); top right: 1970s (2nd Quarter); bottom left: 1980s (3rd Quarter); bottom right: 1990s (4th Quarter). (Image credit: ESPN)

BRISTOL, Conn.—ESPN will be offering an alternative production of the NBA75 Celebration Games that will offer fans of the history of TV production a fascinating look back at the graphic styles and the presentation of TV games from the 1960s through to the present. 

For the NBA75 Celebration Game presented by State Farm, ESPN will offer a regular production as well as alternate presentation of the Brooklyn Nets vs. New York Knicks contest on Wednesday, April 6 inspired by the league’s storied history. 

ESPN said that it will honor the NBA 75th Anniversary Season by producing an alternative broadcast that mirrors the NBA television styles and presentations of decades past, including the 1960s on ABC, the 1970s and 1980s on CBS and the 1990s on NBC, as well as representation from present day. 

“We’re taking fans on a journey through the evolution of this vibrant, culturally impactful league while also pairing the content with the iconic performers of today,” Tim Corrigan, vice president, ESPN Production said. “We’re excited to pay homage to the networks that paved the way for what we have been doing for the past two decades at ESPN. Regardless of age or era, if you love basketball, there is something for you in this broadcast.” 

The NBA75 Celebration Game broadcast begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and the traditional game broadcast will air on ESPN.

The NBA75 Celebration Game will also include an impressive list of high-profile special guests who will join the broadcast either on site at Madison Square Garden or remotely. Guests will include several members of the NBA75 player list and Hall of Fame coaches and broadcasters who have been integral to the game through the eras.

While the retro production is targeted to a wide array of basketball fans and is part of a trend of offering alternative productions of the same game, engineers and TV production professionals who read TV Tech should find the production to be a particularly interesting look back at the history of the way live sports were presented. 

Highlights include: 

  • Custom graphics updated per era, including starting lineups, standings, stats, team logos, venue information and copyright language;
  • Classic network theme music by era, including the memorable NBA on NBC music from the 1990s;
  • Popular music from every decade used during highlights and in and out of commercial breaks;
  • NBA Finals broadcast team of Curt Gowdy Media Award-winner Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson and reporter Lisa Salters to provide commentary;
  • Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer Hubie Brown, celebrating his 50th season in professional basketball, to join the broadcast. Brown will also serve as the analyst for the traditional game broadcast with Ryan Ruocco and Cassidy Hubbarth on ESPN.
George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.