03/01/21: Craig Barry dissects this week’s documentary The Inside Story


Medias First Morning Read


Monday March 1, 2021

This week sees a tribute to a sports institution when TNT launches The Inside Story, a four-part documentary series looking back at the 30+ year history of Inside the NBA. Running across consecutive nights from Thursday through Sunday, the first episode runs immediately following NBA on TNT’s coverage of the Heat/Pelicans matchup. Produced by Turner Sports, each hour-long episode “reveals untold stories that highlight the chemistry between the four personalities – Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal – while also exploring their uncanny ability to continuously entertain and inform viewers,” offering never-before-seen-footage and interviews with celebrities, production crew members and sports reporters.

Cynopsis Sports asked Craig Barry, Executive Vice-President, Chief Content Officer, Turner Sports about the franchise and its impact on the sport, as well as pop culture.

Barry on creating the documentary: Inside the NBA is really a defining franchise for us and that’s one of the driving factors in creating The Inside Story documentary. We set out to celebrate Inside’s 30th anniversary by trying to bring fans closer to the show than ever before. The Inside Story, even though it’s centered on the four personalities associated with the show today (Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal), is also a storytelling platform that looks back on the origins of the show and how it’s evolved into what it has become today. It is a tribute to so many people that have contributed to its success through the years and we hope the documentary is reflective of the journey we’ve all taken together, including our fans.

On breakthrough moments: There have been several, but the first time the show was used as a parody on Saturday Night Live was the defining moment to me. It really signified the show’s relevance and unique ability to hit that intersection of sports and culture. Then in 2018, we had an opportunity to do our show from the SNL studio and it was a surreal moment. A first for any sports show for sure! I’ll never forget that night, standing in the studio at 30 Rock after doing our show and taking it all in.

On goals for the documentary: We really wanted to offer fans a look behind the curtain of the show. Inside the NBA is not the traditional sports studio show. In many ways, it kind of gave other shows permission to not always be perfect. Mistakes are natural in live television and we tend to lean into them and make them part of the show. We’re unscripted, even chaotic at times, but that is actually how the show is designed and formatted. Hopefully we have had the opportunity to entertain our viewers along the way. The Inside Story reflects on some of the most defining moments from the show, while sharing many of the stories behind them.

On the crew: First, I’d like to really credit Audrey Martin, who was instrumental in the making of The Inside Story documentary. She and the core team working on this project have spent countless hours sifting through 30 years of video and interviewing Ernie, Charles, Kenny and Shaq, current and former employees, celebrity fans of the show, members of the media, and many others. For me, personally, I’ve been with Turner Sports 31 years and I have so many fond memories from this show. What really stood out to me, though, was how truly passionate and authentic the cast and crew are night in and night out. The show is just so effortlessly honest. There is this universal feeling of joy that Inside the NBA has brought to so many people and that’s a great sense of pride to me and all of those who have worked on the show.

On chemistry: Chemistry can’t be created and it can’t be duplicated, but we’re so fortunate to have found it with EJ, Kenny, Charles and Shaq. It started with Ernie, with his professionalism and dry humor, the consummate student of the game. Kenny added his high basketball IQ and charisma. Charles entered and gasoline was thrown on the fire. Then Shaq joined and he’s added an entire new dynamic to the show. The arrival of each talent opened new doors for the show and it was imperative that we adjust to them, not for them to adjust to the show. What we’ve tried to do more than anything is to let everything evolve and mature over time so the show’s personality is reflective of all who touch it. That’s The Inside Story.


Twitch landed a multi-year global rights deal with the International Basketball Federation that will tip off this spring with FIBA streaming sports content in addition to working with Twitch, to create content designed to maximize the utilities of the platform. FIBA will showcase around 600 hours of live basketball games each year on its own Twitch channel while fans will be able to produce FIBA-related content on their own Twitch channels. Live games will include all FIBA 3×3 competitions, the EuroLeague Women and selected youth tournaments. Additionally, highlights and delayed coverage of FIBA’s national team and other club competitions and youth tournaments will be packaged and distributed.

The International Cricket Council locked in a live streaming deal with IMG that will showcase 541 pathway matches across three ICC World Cups via live streaming globally for the first time. The deal runs through April 2023, and includes all qualifying matches to three ICC World Cups: the Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023, the Women’s T20 World Cup 2023 and the Men’s T20 World Cup 2022.

The NFL denied a SBJ report that the league locked in a media rights deal with Walt Disney Co’s channels ESPN and ABC. The article stated that the deal would renew the fabled Monday Night Football franchise as well as bring ABC back into the mix for the Super Bowl rotation. “The report is incorrect and as we don’t negotiate through the media, there will be no further comment,” the league stated. That said, most pundits expect a deal to be cemented and even announced this week.

Next month, the EBS team is producing the Esports Business Summit University: 2-day virtual conference focused on the business of collegiate esports. We’ll go inside topics such as sponsorships, scholarships, recruitment, funding, and so much more. Hear from the West Coast Conference, CSL Esports, EGF, Learfield IMG, Skillshot Media, WWSEF/NASEF, Mountain West Conference, BoomTV/AVGL, NIRSA, NACE, FACEIT, Nerd Street Gamers, Twitch and a keynote from former NFL Pro Bowler Ahman Green from Lakeland University Esports Program. It’s going to be an incredible learning opportunity and we hope you’ll join us. Ticket prices increase on March 1, so don’t delay – register now!

ESPN Events launched a new event featuring Tuskegee University with the creation of the Red Tails Classic – a college football event showcasing Historically Black Colleges and Universities – in honor of the Tuskegee Airmen who fought in World War II. Tuskegee University and Fort Valley State University will play in the inaugural game at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Ala., to open the 2021 college football season on Sept. 5, at 7p on ESPNU.


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NASCAR revealed a multiyear partnership with DoorDash that will designate the brand as the “Official On-Demand Delivery Platform of NASCAR.” The wide-ranging agreement will span across the sanctioning body and 11 NASCAR-owned facilities. DoorDash will also look to deepen its connection with race fans by bringing the DoorDash experience to NASCAR tracks over the coming years through highlighting local restaurants within racing communities. As part of the relationship, DoorDash will also activate across NASCAR’s rapidly growing social and digital platforms. Additionally, eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series broadcasts will integrate DoorDash branding throughout the remainder of its season. “DoorDash is a category leader and one of the fastest growing brands in the country, their expanded presence in NASCAR underscores the incredible momentum being generated around this historic season,” said Frank Kelleher, senior vice president and chief sales officer, NASCAR. “Together, NASCAR and DoorDash are committed to giving back to the communities in which we race while drastically improving the fan experience at our facilities.”

WHOOP, the human performance company, and the LPGA Tour announced a partnership to supply all players, caddies, and staff across the LPGA Tour, Symetra Tour, and Ladies European Tour with WHOOP Strap 3.0. WHOOP becomes the Official Fitness Wearable of the LPGA Tour as well as the Official Fitness Wearable of the PGA TOUR. WHOOP will also increase on-site presence at tournaments throughout the season to assist players and members with real-time data coaching and analysis of personalized insights.

The Vegas Golden Knights quickly pulled the plug on a newly-announced partnership with UpickTrade, a company that sells sports betting picks, including those for NHL games. The deal was first announced on Wednesday that UpickTrade would become the Official Picks Service Partner of the Knights but was quickly met with criticism from the sports betting community over concerns that UpickTrade would sell picks on Knights games or gain unfair access to injury or lineup information directly from the team.


Just ahead of baseball season, YouTube TV added MLB.TV to its Live TV lineup where YouTube TV subscribers can choose the MLB.TV add-on to get live streaming access to all regular season out-of-market games. Subscribers can stream every game, with the exception of ESPN, FOX, and MLB Network telecasts. All spring training games will also be available with the package.


North American esports squad XSET is plugging in with Quality Control Media Holdings, which oversees hip-hop label Quality Control Music, Quality Films, and QC Sports. The alliance will see both companies partner for content creation, music production, merchandise collaborations, talent recruitment and management, in addition to licensing deals with gaming publishers. QG Media Holdings also becomes an investor into XSET.

Multiple reports now state that E3 will go purely digital for this year’s June event, with physical plans now again canceled due to the pandemic. The reports, first broken by VGC, state that Entertainment Software Association is now exploring alternatives with a production team and the LA Convention, including broadcast options that will run from the Los Angeles Convention Center and LA Live complex.


The WNBA and NBA Boards of Governors unanimously approved the sale of the Atlanta Dream to Larry Gottesdiener, Chairman of Northland, a national real estate firm. The three-member investor group is comprised of former Dream star Renee Montgomery, Northland President and Chief Operating Officer Suzanne Abair, and Gottesdiener. “With the unanimous WNBA and NBA votes, today marks a new beginning for the Atlanta Dream organization and we are very pleased to welcome Larry Gottesdiener and Suzanne Abair to the WNBA,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert. “I admire their passion for women’s basketball, but more importantly, have been impressed with their values. I am also thrilled that former WNBA star Renee Montgomery will be joining the ownership group as an investor and executive for the team. Renee is a trailblazer who has made a major impact both in the game and beyond.”

Major League Soccer announced that Ron Burkle pulled out from plans to back an expansion team in Sacramento that was set to join the league in 2023. The league said in a statement Friday night that Burkle’s decision was “based on issues with the project related to COVID-19.” “After working for many years to bring an MLS team to Sacramento, the league continues to believe it can be a great MLS market,” MLS said in a statement. “In the coming days, the league will work with Mayor Darrell Steinberg to evaluate possible next steps for MLS in Sacramento.”

National Women’s Soccer League Commissioner Lisa Baird is joining the U.S. Soccer Federation’s board of directors. USSF President Cindy Parlow Cone announced the appointment on Friday, with Baird replacing Steve Malik, the owner of the NWSL’s North Carolina Courage and USL League One side North Carolina FC.

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On this Day
1983: Tamara McKinney becomes the first American woman skier to win the overall World Cup championship.

In 2002, Charles Barkley told Kenny Smith on Inside the NBA that he would kiss his a$$ if a certain Rockets rookie scored 19 points in a game. The next week, that player accomplished that feat. Who was he? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city).

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question
Who holds the record for most consecutive games played in MLB history? Answer: Cal Ripken Jr. Kudos: Aymon DeMauro-ADM Media & Marketing/NY; Lori Paterson-Spectrum Reach/NY; Cindy O’Connor-CoxReps/NY; John Lappas-Home Team Sports/NY; Mike Seidel-CSI Sports/Jersey City; Carolyn Mailloux-Watauga Group/Charleston; Christian Matthews-Washington Football Team/DC; Mark Lehman-Braves/Atlanta; Lisa Fikeys-NissanUnited/Chicago; Bill Robertson-WCHA/Bloomington; Tom Doherty-T-Mobile Marketing Solutions/Chicago; Travis Wacker – ESPN Chicago, Good Karma Brands/Chicago; Jack Neumann-University of Calgary Dinos 5th Quarter Alumni Development/Calgary; David Hauptman/Denver; Greg Moloznik-GLM Media/Scottsdale; Andy Babb-Super League Gaming/Santa Monica; Larry Hutchings/San Luis Obispo; Jim Himmel-TCB Media/San Clemente; Dave Sikula-San Francisco State University/San Francisco

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