Bernstein: ESPN Draft Coverage Clowned By Twitter

By Dan Bernstein– Senior Columnist

(CBS) They sure looked on top of things, that four-man panel in the Prudential Center in Newark last night, a tableau of expertise and awareness, presiding over the 2011 NBA draft with gravitas and control.

They were literally surrounded by information – names of selected players on the board over their heads, multiple scrolls on our screens below and beside them that kept us aware of picks to come, players available and trades made, with reporters standing by to provide the smallest tidbits on the next Euro-giant we have never seen play.

Yet there I was, on the floor of my bedroom folding laundry, and I knew far more about what was going on than they did.

Thanks to Twitter, anybody anywhere with a smartphone or a computer felt like they were watching coverage on some kind of bizarre delay, as every move of this bad draft was revealed and dissected instantaneously by any number of reputable reporters in a steady, nimble stream of information. Local beat guys, national columnists and team broadcasters worked circles around the rights-holding network in 140-character bursts of pure content that made the blow-dried TV creatures seem expensive and slow.

It doesn’t matter who Nikola Mirotic is, but it does matter that Twitter told us he was Bulls’ property a good ten minutes before ESPN seemed to have a clue.

Yahoo Sports had most picks called before they were made, and gave us the particulars of the Kings/Bucks/Bobcats deal before the draft went on the air. Experts from Sports Illustrated, and were injecting insight and opinion into the Twitter mainline, while our screen was giving us either another insipid, perfunctory interview with a mumbling, overwhelmed draftee, or a cynical, self-serving promo about how the NBA “cares” about something.

It got so bad, in fact, that for some of us the conversation turned to meta-conversation as each next fact about a pick or trade was received and absorbed before the flashy, noisy production took notice or commented.

“How can they not know this yet?” we asked. Turns out they just didn’t, or those who did could not communicate it as quickly as needed to keep up.

Presenting a game is different — we all watch what happens in real time. The shot goes in, or not. The buzzer sounds. We react. For most of the time, we only have what we can all see, and there are few secrets, and not much chance for proprietary info (save for an overheard exchange or x-ray result).

A draft, however, is not a self-contained activity, and cannot be covered like one even if there happens to be a centralized location within an NBA arena, where national broadcasters can set up their bright lights and glitzy stage.

Teams conduct business from their respective cities, covered by local media. The actual events of the night – decisions on whom to pick and trades to make — are occurring everywhere at once. By the time something is called into the league office, it has been put out there already.

There are events where the size, resources and muscle of a major TV network are attributes, but last night they were hindrances for ESPN. The speed and flexibility of Twitter allowed others to outflank them, like guerilla fighters against a more powerful, but too-rigid army.

Despite all the money spent to own and control the night, with reporters around the country, producers booking interviews with players, coaches and executives, and a stable of paid experts in front of state-of-the-art touchscreens, the network was left in the dust as we got the news from everybody else.

Last night our real NBA draft coverage came not from the “Worldwide Leader,” but from the world.

bernstein 90x130 Bernstein:  ESPN Draft Coverage Clowned By Twitter

Dan Bernstein

Dan Bernstein has been the co-host of “Boers and Bernstein” since 1999. He joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995. The Boers and Bernstein Show airs every weekday from 1PM to 6PM on The Score, 670AM. Read more of Bernstein’s blogs here. Follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.
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  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Is that Senior Columnist in that you can get the senior discount at Denny’s now or, with proper accent mark, is that Senior/Mister Columnist en Espaniol???

    GREAT to have the Dan-o blog back!!!

  • CosmoFurthur

    We missed ya, Bernsie. Welcome back.

    I don’t know why anybody would be surprised/astonished that ESPN’s coverage was so horrendous. First of all, social media (particularly Twitter) has made actually watching a draft irrelevant (I personally chose to watch Inception on HBO while following developments on Twitter). Second, and more importantly… DRAFTS ARE BORING! I’ve never been so happy about a draft as I was when the Texans picked, and offered a contract to, Mario Williams the day before the thing even took place. THAT was exciting.

    The era of feigned melodrama over drafts as an “event” is rapidly coming to a close. And thank ye gods for that.

  • Murphs Upper-Lip

    “By Dan Bernstein– Senior Columnist”

    The only real coverage I got of the draft was what I noticed on twitter, and Danny Boy was certainly only one of many who pointed out just how bad the boo-yah was doing last night. The World Wide Leader in sports, eh?

    As I reprinted above and LHA has already pointed out, our favorite Jewish Sports Radio Personality has a new title! I tried calling in a few Friday’s ago for “Ask Us Anything” with the question of: “Why has Bernstein quit his daily blog?”, but didn’t get put on the air… I’m fairly confident in the answer to that question, he won his standoff with CBS and got his paper… congrats Dan, hope you’re back to the daily blog, I’m sure this site was getting way less traffic without it.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      You nailed it on both counts MU-L.
      They were the World Wide Follower last night, and Danny Boy got some more pesos for his blog…but I think he will only post twice a week from now on.

      • Murphs Upper-Lip

        I’ll take twice a week. Other than Dave’s column (Wischnowsky), I’ve found the blogging on this site very mediocre. Not talking about the sports reporting, but the actual anlysis/opinion article’s. Spieg’s has had a couple good ones, but for the most part I can take it or leave it. LoHo, while nothing wrong that I can point out, I guess my problem with his material is that it’s just – blah… boring… He’s new to this, though, and I think in time he’ll get better, love him on the radio.

      • Spoon

        Dan’s sense of humor translates so well into text. Not to mention it’s edgy/insulting enough to generate semi to excessively emotional responses from the smart and the stupid.

      • Chris in Scottsdale

        Spoon- You hit the nail on the head.

      • Murphs Upper-Lip

        Agree completely, Spoon.

  • By Cracky!

    Yesss, it’s finally baaaaack.

    So much confusion last night. I felt like I was watching a Hillary vs. Palin debate….

    • Spoon

      Were you warned by Paul Revere ringing those bells and firing those warning shots while riding his horse and reloading his front loading musket?

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        I think that is “ringin'” and “firin'” and “warnin'” and “ridin'” and “reloadin'”

        I think you might have too much book learnin’ there Spoon.

        Perhaps she can work with David McCullough to write a biography of Paul Revere. If she had actually read one…her lips would have been chapped by the effort.

  • AT3374

    Congratz on getting that “paper” FOTS !! Hopefully these picks will pan out for the mighty Boo , and somehow , some way we get O.J Mayo cause that Miami thing ain’t going away anytime soon .

  • Mike in Milwaukee

    i’m ready for a beer

    • Spoon

      We all know you’ve had 6 by 9:30, WYC?

  • Kurt

    ESPN and NBA need to get there act together. Their draft coverage is dated and confusing. In this current age of technology, why can’t the NBA approve and report the trades on the spot. They call a player on stage and make him wear the hat of the wrong team if he had been traded already. The NBA needs to figure out a way, like the NFL has to run the draft in real time with updates of draft night changes on the spot.

  • General Soreness

    Last night was great. I knew everything that was going on in the draft whilst watching DVRs of Tosh.O and Through the Wormhole….I love modern technology.
    Perhaps the booyahs could take the paper they paid all of those clowns last night and simply get Morgan Freeman next year. That I would watch.

  • Thrillhouse

    Hey cool, it looks like Dan won The Score Search For Chicago’s Next Sports Blogger! I wouldn’t have thought you were eligible, but congratulations, Dan!

    But seriously, great column. The draft wasn’t too old before I muted the tv and listened to Goff and Holmes give some real, reliable analysis. Good stuff. And good to see you writing again, Dan.

    • steve

      Ed Sherman will soon be over to help write his autobiography

      • Murphs Upper-Lip

        If that’s the case, I’d like to congratulate Ed and Danny Mac ahead of time for their literary masterpiece(s).

  • Cameltoe Rancher

    Great to read that Dan has retired from his position as a flash mob organizer and returned to blogging!

  • Jason's Jelly-Filled Donut

    Talk More Pastries!!!

    • Mr. Pouty Pants

      Now I’m hungry, jerk.

      Welcome back Dan.

      Not to defend the Booyahs, but you don’t need to be on the internet checking all the breaking news. If you want to watch the draft, then watch the draft, if you want all the latest news and rumors then use don’t watch espn and check for news online. I do agree that if your station prides itself on being the “world leader in sports” then get your act together and be able to report all the news everyone can find on the internet.

  • Spoon

    “ESPN Draft Coverage Clowned By Twitter”

    Nice to see DB’s amusing headlines back in print.

    • Murph

      Clowns? Andy Mc-f-a-i-l. (clown sound drop)

  • Chris in Scottsdale

    I’m in a stats class for my summer nights right now, and I had classmates watching with headphones on Booyah 360. Just by following tweets, I was WAY ahead of them. Coming back from a short lecture break, someone forgot to turn their phone’s settings to silent, and he got a “breaking” note from his Booyah app on the Norris Cole pick… five minutes after we had been discussing that pick outside.

    Five minutes? Not a huge deal, but with the compression of the news cycle over the last decade, that’s an eternity. It’s fun to be the guy that hears it first.

    Glad to see Bernstein’s writing back on the site. Whether I agree or disagree, I usually find it pretty funny in any event.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Sooo, does this stats class focus on fun stuff like sabermetrics or that old boring mean, median, mode stuff?

      Great to see you posting CIS.

      • Chris in Scottsdale


        Thanks :)

        It’s the traditional stuff- Regression, probability, z & t scores… but it’s strange. Being a sports nerd DEFINITELY helped in the early going… plus, I even look at things like batting averages differently all of a sudden.

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot???

    And here I JUST got that great Ron Artest jersey for Father’s Day.

  • Chris in Scottsdale

    Loved the Bulls draft, even though I don’t know anything about the Europrospect. Jimmy Butler said the right things, and he seems to understand that he’s being brought in to fill a very specific role- to exhaust himself while marking the best opposing wing player.

    I guess I liked their draft because I trust GarPax all of a sudden. How much of a change is THAT?

    Anyone’s rec-league team get a call from Jereme Richmond’s agent?

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      Richmond was the prototypical 3rd Round draft choice.

      • Chris in Scottsdale

        But there is no THIR- I see what you did there ;)

        Further proof the Booyah has no clue. Katz said that had Richmond returned to U of I that he would have been a star.

  • Doug

    Great article. Talking head TV is so old!

  • Peter (in Rogers Park)

    When callers point out legitimate or perceived weaknesses of DB’s show the response is typically something along the lines of, “If you don’t like it then don’t consume it”. Not only does DB’s rule of thumb apparently not apply to him, but he uses the opportunity of his first piece as a CBS senior columnist to flout it. Say what you will about ESPN, but I don’t remember The Network devoting any time or space to anti-CBS rants.

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