ESPN's NBA Draft Overnight Tied With '07 Event As Best Since '03
ESPN earned a 2.6 overnight rating for the NBA Draft on Thursday night, which is tied with '07 as the best figure for the event since the net began airing the event in '03. Thursday night's telecast is also up 13% from a 2.3 overnight for last year's Draft and up slightly from a 2.5 overnight in '11. The telecast peaked at a 3.3 rating from 8:30-8:45pm ET. Louisville once again topped all markets with a 6.9 local rating, followed by Memphis with a 5.6 rating. Rounding out the top five were Cleveland-Akron (5.0), Indianapolis (4.7) and Oklahoma City (4.3) (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).
MIXED REVIEWS: SI.com's Ben Golliver reviews the winners and losers from the Draft and includes ESPN's Bill Simmons in the losers column. Simmons "brought good energy and genuine reactions during a wild night" as part of the net's Draft set for the first time. However, his "constant use of 'We' when referring to colleague Jalen Rose was just too much." Golliver: "There was just no need to force a consensus opinion on player after player. Fully independent perspectives are more entertaining and informative" (SI.com, 6/28). The South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Dave Hyde wrote, "If Bill Simmons was critiquing Bill Simmons as Bill Simmons, he'd have a field day." The AP's Tim Reynolds wrote, "The next trade I want to hear about is ESPN moving Simmons after the first round for the kid who said 'Boom goes the dynamite.'" USA Today's Dan Wolken wrote, "Simmons needs to go back to monitoring Woj's Twitter feed." But SI.com's Jimmy Traina wrote, "Shocked by people complaining that Simmons was acting like a fan. Give me a passionate fan over an talking head discussing wingspan any day." Meanwhile, The Big Lead's Jason McIntyre wrote, "ESPN struck gold with Bilas/Rose/Simmons. Helps that this draft is wacky wild kool-aid style, but I'm enjoying the banter." Sporting News' Michael DeCourcy wrote, "Love Jay Bilas' analysis because he actually judges players on what he sees and experiences, not what he reads on Twitter or someone's blog."
RIVERS RUNS THROUGH IT: Simmons several times during the course of the night referenced that Clippers coach Doc Rivers "quit" on the Celtics. ESPN's Shelley Smith interviewed Rivers during the second round and said, "Bill Simmons tonight said he thought you quit on the Celtics. What's your response to that?" Rivers said, "I would like to call him an idiot, but I'm too classy for that. But that's just his opinion. That didn't happen and he really needs to know the whole truth, which he doesn't." Simmons said after the interview, "The truth keeps changing. I mean, he's given different quotes about this. He didn't know, he did know, he kinda knew, he wanted the trade to happen, he was coming back, he needed a year off. When he sticks to a story, I'll believe the truth" ("2013 NBA Draft," ESPN, 6/27). SI.com's Richard Deitsch wrote, "The Doc Rivers-Bill Simmons sequence was honest, tense television. Bravo, ESPN. Bravo times two." ESPNWisconsin.com's Jason Wilde wrote, "I thought Simmons handled well. Rest of panel seemed flustered." The National Post's Bruce Arthur wrote, "Bill Simmons is being broken up with by his longtime girlfiend on ESPN basically and it's getting weird. ... I will say this: Bill Simmons isn't trying to make friends on TV, and that stands out like a beacon." Meanwhile, the Charlotte Observer's Rick Bonnell wrote, "Always liked Doc Rivers, but now that he's called out Simmons...Tremendous."
BEGINNER'S LUCK: Heat F Shane Battier handled the post-selection interviews for ESPN, and The Big Lead's McIntyre wrote, "Damn, Shane Battier is flawless as a sideline reporter. Dude is really, really good." The South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Ira Winderman wrote, "Not surprising Battier handling his interview role well. He actually takes time to listen, even when we're the ones asking him questions." ESPN's John Buccigross wrote, "College students, Shane Battier is great role model as 'sideline reporter' at the NBA draft. Short, simple questions. It's about the player." True Hoop's Henry Abbott wrote, "Shane Battier can do everyone's job better than they can." CBS Sports' Doug Gottlieb wrote Battier was "crushing it!" But FoxSports.com's Jason Whitlock wrote, "Shane Battier should practice for his TV career by sideline reporting a MAC game on ESPNU. He's in over his head tonight." USA Today's Wolken wrote, "Battier proves that being great at answering questions doesn't necessarily translate to being great at asking them." SI.com's Deitsch when asked who was a better Draft interviewer between Battier and NFL Network's Deion Sanders replied, "Oh, my God, I have to say Deion." ESPN's Jill Montgomery wrote, "For all you rippin on Battier..... Guarantee you he says its not as easy as he thought!"