BROOKLYN, N.Y. — For ESPN Coordinating Producer Bruce Bernstein, NBA Draft night is one of the most important dates on his work calendar. Bernstein works regularly on ESPN’s NBA property, but he has an extra special job the night of the NBA Draft. As he says, he’s NBA Commissioner David Stern’s “glue-guy.” No pressure, right?
During a live telecast — filled with uncertainty and lots of moving parts — Stern depends on Bernstein’s direction and poise to get him from point A to point B, and in a timely fashion. Thursday night during the 2013 NBA Draft proceedings in the Barclays Center, Stern said of working with Bernstein: “He knows how to coordinate. It isn’t often that the announce team and I are on the same schedule and his job is to make it all come together. He does it with a great patience and a wonderful sense of humor that complement his extraordinary competence.”
Front Row caught up with Bernstein backstage in Stern’s green room to talk about what it’s been like working with the Commish for 11 years and the unique relationship they’ve formed.
What are your responsibilities with regard to Commissioner Stern?
This was my 11th year as David Stern’s “glue guy” during the NBA Draft. My job is to be the liaison between the show producer and David. When each pick is made, a card is sent up from the NBA lawyers and handed to David. At that point, I let the truck know the card is in David’s hands.
Then we do the dance as to when I send him to the podium to announce the pick. Sometimes the producer wants David to go out right away and other times they want to wait. If we are in a commercial break or doing an interview, those are the scenarios where we ask David to hold off on making his trip to the podium.
What are some of the challenges in coordinating Commissioner Stern’s appearances on stage?
During the draft, there is a lot of activity backstage in the green room. David and [Deputy Commissioner] Adam Silver are conducting business during the show. Sponsors, players, personal guests and other VIPs and their families are meeting and talking with David and Adam.
Sometimes it can be awkward interrupting these meetings to pull David or Adam away to make a pick, so the phrases “excuse me” or “sorry to interrupt” are used frequently. Everyone understands that we are on live and my frequent intrusions are necessary.
What do you remember about your first time working the NBA Draft with Commissioner Stern in 2003?
Our first draft in 2003 was memorable because LeBron James was the top pick. He was only 18 years old, but he carried himself with incredible poise. He was wearing a white suit and even though he was the youngest person in the room, he owned the room.
What are your thoughts on working with now Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver starting with the 2014 NBA Draft?
Next season, Adam Silver takes over as the host for the first round. We have worked together for several years on the second round and he is great to work with. His preparation and attention to detail are very impressive. I look forward to working with Adam for many years down the road.