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Volume 25 No. 174
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NBA's Popularity Growing Year-Round With Help From ESPN

Wojnarowski’s authoritative reportage has given him and his info added exposure
Photo: ESPN IMAGES

The NBA has "managed to make pro basketball nearly a year-round obsession," and ESPN "gets an assist" for its efforts promoting the league, according to Phil Rosenthal of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. But the NBA is "hardly unique in its efforts to sell its brand around the globe and keep it front of mind as much and as long as possible." ESPN is "deeply invested in the league" through its $1.4B-per-season rights deal through the '24-25 season, and the net has been "useful advancing the league’s popularity." ESPN's treatment of the NBA Draft "rivals the Oscars, 'The Bachelorette' and a royal wedding rolled into one." The net's "determination to get as much mileage" from NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski’s "authoritative reportage has given him and his info added exposure." That has "helped make everything in his sphere fodder in the TV and radio argument-show ecosystem throughout the day." But the "big bonanza for the NBA is how ESPN has come to regard the NBA Summer League like the college football bowl games it owns and operates." Yesterday alone, there were 10 Las Vegas Summer League games airing across ESPN2, ESPNU and NBA TV (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 7/10).

FREE AGENT DESTINATION? In N.Y., Andrew Marchand cites sources as saying that Yahoo Sports NBA insider Shams Charania’s "contract is up next month." Wojnarowski was a "mentor to Charania, hiring him to Yahoo’s The Vertical from the website RealGM when he was still in college." When Wojnarowski in '17 "left Yahoo for ESPN on a lucrative, five-year deal," it allowed Charania to "become the face of Yahoo’s NBA coverage." ESPN could "basically end the NBA scoop game by reuniting Wojnarowski and Charania in Bristol" (N.Y. POST, 7/10).

LIFE OF BRIAN: In N.Y., Bob Raissman dubbed ESPN's Brian Windhorst his "Dweeb of the Week." Raissman: "Not sure when this ESPN voice became the overlord of all things NBA, but his attack on [Thunder F] Paul George’s decision to take less dough and remain in Oklahoma City was over-the-top" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/8).