EDITOR’s UPDATE – July 17, 2020 –
ESPN confirmed Friday afternoon that Hubie Brown will not work the NBA Restart and playoffs in Orlando beginning at the end of the month.
With regard to Brown, an ESPN official said, “We had to carefully consider what made sense for our overall commentator lineup given how mindful we are of the unique on-site circumstances and the unprecedented environment we all find ourselves in.”
Hubie turns 87 on September 25th. He had worked steadily until the virus hit in March. But given this unpredictable time, the network’s coverage plans continue to change and evolve.
While this is the final year of Brown’s contract with ESPN, the network reconfirmed its commitment to Hubie yesterday and underscored the fact that he’s still very much a part of its on-air staff.
Earlier this month, Brown told the Niagara Gazette that he was feeling fine and had read 16 books since the stoppage. He was looking forward to calling the playoffs but said that the decision would be management’s.
In addition to serving as an NBA analyst on ESPN’s television coverage of early playoff rounds, Hubie has been the regular commentator on ESPN Radio’s broadcasts of the NBA finals. The network says that all of its game coverage, including television and radio will emanate from Orlando. It also recently determined that the radio element – will include an expanded schedule. It sounds as such like the commentator’s burden will be heavier than it’s been in the past.
Last month, Turner Sports announced that Marv Albert, 79, would not announce any of the NBA’s restart or playoff games. (see below)
Brown and Albert are in the age group particularly susceptible to Covid-19.
The moment sports aficionados have been waiting for is a month away. The NBA has released its national schedule which begins July 30th. The matchups are star-studded and eye-catching.
A total of 22 of the 30 NBA teams will head to The Bubble in Orlando to resume the 2019-20 campaign. Nine clubs from the Eastern Conference and 13 from the Western Conference will partake. Commencing on Wednesday, July 1st, NBA TV will launch a “Team Restart” series, which kicks off with LeBron James’ Los Angeles Lakers.
A total of 88 regular-season games will be played on multiple courts. Time to take a closer look at nine of the more intriguing matchups in Orlando during the course of the early weeks of the schedule:
All times are Eastern/Full schedule below.
Thurs, July 30: New Orleans-Utah 6:30p (TNT)
There is no better way to bring back the NBA than to feature former Duke superstar and the 2019 NBA 1st overall selection, Zion Williamson. Williamson’s New Orleans Pelicans will be facing off against an up and coming powerhouse, the Utah Jazz. Jazz All-Stars, Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, were the first of the NBA players to contract COVID-19 back in mid-March. This matchup between the Pelicans and Jazz was bound to occur.
Thurs, July 30: LA Lakers-LA Clippers 9:30p (TNT)
The battle for LA continues! The number one and two seeded teams in a highly-competitive Western Conference will conclude the first evening of games. LeBron James and Anthony Davis versus Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. While the Clippers hold a 2-0 season series lead on the Lakers after a pair of games that went down to the wire earlier in the season, LeBron’s Lakers will be seeking revenge. Grab your popcorn folks and tune in; this should be a fun one!
Fri, July 31: Six Contests – Three on national television (ESPN and NBA TV)
Brooklyn Nets vs. Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns vs. Washington Wizards, Memphis Grizzlies vs. Portland Trail Blazers, Boston Celtics vs. Milwaukee Bucks, Sacramento Kings vs. San Antonio Spurs, and Houston Rockets vs. Dallas Mavericks…Wow! All six of these contests will feature teams clustered in the NBA standings. The Nets and Magic continue to battle for the 7th and 8th seeds in the Eastern Conference, both the Suns and Wizards basically need to go undefeated in the seeding games in order to gain a playoff berth. The Grizzlies and Trail Blazers currently hold the 8th and 9th seeds in a tight Western Conference. Fasten your seat belts, the season is back in full swing.
Sat, Aug 1: An ESPN quadruple-header
A marathon speaks for itself. Sports enthusiasts will be glued to their couches for 12 hours straight.
Sun, Aug 2:Portland-Boston 3:30p and Houston-Milwaukee 8:30p (ABC)
The over the air network takes the spotlight. A pair of games between stars from the Eastern and Western Conferences. From Damian Lillard to Jason Tatum and from Giannis Antetokounmpo to James Harden, don’t plan on leaving the house.
Saturday, Aug 8: Milwaukee-Dallas 8:30p (ESPN)
MVP candidates, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Doncic, take center stage as their teams battle it out for a Saturday night special.
Mon, Aug 10: Toronto-Milwaukee 6:30p (ESPN)
The top two teams from the Eastern Conference and a rematch of the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals going head-to-head is a blockbuster. Kawhi Leonard is now a Clipper, so now, a healthy and young Pascal Siakam will not be backing down against veteran Giannis Antetokounmpo. Add in Kyle Lowry and Khris Middleton to the mix and balls will be flying from all over the court.
Wed, Aug 12: Toronto-Philadelphia 6:30p (ESPN)
Toronto Raptors 92, Philadelphia 76ers 90. May 12, 2019 is a day that haunts many 76ers fans. It was the day when Kawhi Leonard sank a Game 7 game-winning buzzer beater shot to advance the Toronto Raptors to the Eastern Conference Finals. Joel Embiid who was guarding Kawhi during that play certainly desires to change the script this year. Kyle Lowry and Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Pascal Siakam, certainly tune into this one.
Fri, Aug 14: Oklahoma City-Los Angeles Clippers (TBD)
Paul George facing off against his former team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Chris Paul battling it out versus the LA Clippers, an organization Paul called home for six seasons, what a fantastic way to end the seeding games.
Broadcasters are likely to broadcast the game remotely. Unless blacked out by the national telecast, games will also be televised locally in the markets of both participating teams
Turner’s lead teams are Marv Albert and Chris Webber. But Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reported that Marv will not work the games because of the increase in Covid-19 cases in Florida. Marchand added that CNN/Turner boss Jeff Zucker himself called Marv and might have influenced the decision. The susceptibility of older people to get the virus is pronounced. Marv turned 79 on June 12th. Kevin Harlan and Reggie Miller are the number two team.
ESPN’s top team is made up of Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson. The second team generally partners Mark Jones and Hubie Brown. Marchand also suggested that Brown 86 might sit out the games too.
Albert’s contract with Turner concludes at the end of next season shortly after which he turns 80.
As published by the NBA, below are the seeding games that will be televised on ESPN, ABC, TNT, and NBA TV from July 30th through August 14th: