NBA Shootaround is a pregame show for ESPN's coverage of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Typically, the program airs at 7:30 p.m, prior to ESPN's presentation of NBA Friday, though it does occasionally air prior to ESPN's NBA Wednesday coverage. The show is sponsored by Kia Motors, giving it the official name KIA NBA Shootaround, and aired live from ESPN/ABC's Times Square studios from 2003 to 2006.
Originally, NBA Shootaround
was hosted by Kevin Frazier
, with analyst Tim Hardaway
. The original program was broadcast out of one of ESPN's Bristol
studios. Some of the features the first edition of NBA Shootaround
contained were Walton's World
, in which NBA analyst and legend Bill Walton
would speak about matters related to the NBA, and Need to Know
, in which host Frazier would go over the headlines of the night's upcoming NBA action. Midway through the inaugural season, widely criticized and panned analyst Tim Hardaway
was replaced with recently retired NBA guard Greg Anthony
. Frazier and Anthony were the tandem for the pregame show throughout the remainder of the season.
Prior to the start of the 2003-2004 NBA season
, major changes were made to NBA Shootaround
. The program was moved into its Times Square
home, and Frazier and Anthony were joined by then-Detroit Shock
head coach Bill Laimbeer
and The Philadelphia Inquirer
columnist, Stephen A. Smith
. Nearly all of the features from the first season were discontinued, while several were added (including Fortune Tellers
, in which the three analysts, Anthony, Laimbeer and Smith, would dress as psychics and predict the outcomes of several NBA teams). Laimbeer left early in ESPN's coverage of the 2004 NBA Playoffs
due to his duties as coach of the Detroit Shock
, and was replaced by Tim Legler
. Frazier, Anthony, Smith and Legler were the studio team through ESPN's coverage of the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals
In September 2004, Kevin Frazier left ESPN to become the weekend anchor on Entertainment Tonight
. He was replaced for the 2004-2005 season
by veteran ESPN anchor John Saunders
, who had previously done play-by-play for the network's NBA coverage. Saunders was joined by Smith, Anthony, and on a permanent basis, Legler. The new studio team only had four editions of NBA Shootaround
before the most infamous moments in the history of the network's NBA coverage. After the Pacers-Pistons brawl
, ESPN went back to its studio for reaction. A visibly angry and shaken Saunders referred to the fans in Detroit
as "punks and sissies", and he, Anthony and Legler vehemently defended Ron Artest
's actions. After being censured
by ESPN and the media in general, the three quickly changed their opinions. NBA analyst David Dupree wrote in a USAToday.com
I am good friends with Legler, Anthony and Saunders, as well as Stephen A., and I was appalled at their remarks. You can never justify violence with more violence. Why is it so difficult for professional athletes to understand that they do have to answer to a higher standard because everyone is watching them and they set the behavior tone. The comments of the studio people were as sickening to me as the fight itself. Why don't people realize that it takes a much braver man to walk away than to fight.
Later in the season, Smith and Anthony got into an extremely heated debate about the NBA's age-limit and the questions about race which arose from it. Aside from the serious moments, Shootaround did continue its more light-hearted fare, which included an ongoing storyline (and mockery of Ron Artest's similar situation) about Greg Anthony's "rap album". Still, the season did not end without another infamous moment from the pregame show, when prior to Game 2 of the 2005 Western Conference Finals between the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs, Stephen A. Smith criticized Spurs forward Glenn Robinson for not playing in the game. As viewers (and Smith) found out later that game, Robinson was not playing due to his mother's death.
For the 2005-06 NBA season
, ESPN continued using Saunders, Legler, Smith and Anthony for its pregame show. On several occasions that year, ABC analyst Scottie Pippen
filled in for Tim Legler
while he went on assignment. Stephen A. Smith was occasionally absent from the pregame show, likely due to the increased workload he had due to his new talk show, Quite Frankly with Stephen A. Smith
Despite reports to the contrary by The Big Lead.com that were picked up by various media publications (namely the New York Post), Greg Anthony, Tim Legler and Stephen A. Smith will remain on ESPN's NBA Shootaround. The only change will be in the role of host; Fred Hickman replaces John Saunders..
ESPN completely overhauled its NBA studio in 2008,as Stuart Scott
and Mark Jones
rotated hosting the pregame show. Originally Stephen A. Smith
and Bill Walton
were to be the analysts, but after Walton came down with back problems in February, Jalen Rose
and Rick Carlisle
rotated as analysts along with Smith. Greg Anthony
and Tim Legler
were demoted to anaylasis on NBA Fastbreak
, and Fred Hickman
moved to hosting ESPNEWS
Miami Herald writer Barry Jackson had gone so far as to say that:
ABC hasn't decided whether Hubie Brown will remain its lead NBA analyst. But here's what is definite: ABC's studio team (Dan Patrick, Mark Jackson and Michael Wilbon) will be ESPN's primary team, too.
In addition to the change of host, Shootaround moved from Times Square to the ESPN Bristol, CT studios. On several occasions, ESPN used guest analysts from its other studio shows; Kiki Vandeweghe, Jamal Mashburn and Swin Cash have each made appearances. Stephen A. Smith's role has been greatly reduced. He no longer appears on set with the main studio group, instead appearing via satellite in a segment called "The A List". Ric Bucher, Marc Stein and Jackie MacMullan contribute in a segment called the "NBA Nation", which involves analysis from Boston (MacMullan), Dallas (Stein) and San Francisco (Bucher). On the Wednesday following the cancellation of Smith's show, Stephen A. appeared on the set for Shootaround.
On December 1, 2006, Dan Patrick hosted NBA Shootaround with analyst Michael Wilbon from Dallas, site of that night's ESPN televised Sacramento Kings-Dallas Mavericks game. This was how NBA Countdown would eventually be broadcast on ABC.