Live From NBA All-Star: ESPN Is All About Collaboration at MSG Truck Compound

Although Turner Sports will produce the main events during this NBA All-Star Weekend in New York, ESPN has unleashed a multipronged presence of its own with locations at Madison Square Garden, Barclays Center, Sheraton Times Square Hotel, and Bryant Park.

ESPN’s Wendell Grigley at the MSG truck compound

ESPN’s Wendell Grigley at the MSG truck compound

“From a media-coverage standpoint, whenever anything is in New York, it has to be bigger and have a brighter light shined on it,” says Wendell Grigley, senior director, event operations, ESPN. “We philosophically want to be in many different areas to make it interesting and show a unique perspective from each location. It provides a great opportunity for our news and information segment and our events segment. Everyone works together and tries together to maximize the coverage.”

ESPN, NBA TV: Lyon 14 Roommates
At the heart of ESPN’s coverage this weekend will be its production of the All-Star Celebrity Game Friday night at MSG, when it will use the same truck assigned to NBA TV for its Saturday-Sunday studio coverage.

“It’s a unique situation in that we are in a very collaborative environment working with Turner and NBA TV,” says Grigley. “We work very closely with the people at Turner to be efficient and make the best use of the facilities we have onsite. It makes a lot of sense; we don’t have to roll in and pull out trucks in the middle of this massive weekend.”

Lyon Video’s Lyon 14 mobile unit pulled into the MSG compound earlier this week, allowing NBA TV to configure it for its Saturday-Sunday needs. ESPN took over Wednesday, had a regular preproduction day inside the arena on Thursday, and will work out of Lyon 14 for the Celebrity Game production tonight.

ESPN is taking several camera feeds from Turner’s primary truck, NEP SS24 and mixing in unilateral cameras of its own to create a nine-camera production, including a play-by-play, slash cams, three handhelds on the court, and access to a jib.

On the audio side, four players and both coaches will be miked throughout the game. “That should be interesting and provide some great audio for an event like this, where everyone is having a good time,” says Grigley.

Inside the Lyon 14 truck as ESPN preps for its All-Star Celebrity Game coverage

Inside the Lyon 14 truck as ESPN preps for its All-Star Celebrity Game coverage

In the past, the Celebrity Game has been held as part of NBA All-Star Weekend’s NBA Jam Session, but, with that event not taking place this year, ESPN’s workflow becomes more complex. Add the fact that MSG’s truck compound was already packed to the gills, and it becomes apparent why the shared truck with NBA TV proved the best option.

“This year is different in that respect, because we are actually doing the All-Star Celebrity Game in the same building we are doing the game in, which hasn’t happened before,” says Grigley. “You are working in a place where there is not a lot of space, and, if you want things to work well, you have to be efficient and share as much as possible.”

Beyond MSG
In addition to the All-Star Celebrity Game, ESPN will have a significant onsite presence beyond MSG all weekend, highlighted by editions of SportsCenter and Mike & Mike broadcasting out of the Sheraton Times Square, where Metrovision Production Group is providing production and transmission services.

ESPN talent will also be conducting interviews with NBA All-Stars and legends throughout the weekend from the Sheraton as well as from MSG and Barclays Center, which will run regularly within SportsCenter Friday-Sunday.

Additionally, ESPN’s First Take is onsite at Bryant Park this morning with a hybrid Harb Productions truck serving its production and transmission needs.