NBA on ESPN Spotlight: ESPN employees who are hard at work bringing you NBA Playoffs (Part 2)

(L-R) EVS Operators Chris Nealon, Sara Gaiero, director Jimmy Moore and Ryan Conrey. (Photo courtesy Sara Gaiero)
(L-R) EVS Operators Chris Nealon, Sara Gaiero, director Jimmy Moore and Ryan Conrey. (Photo courtesy Sara Gaiero)

Every week during the 2015 NBA Playoffs, ESPN is spotlighting one of its many dedicated employees who works “behind-the-scenes” to make the NBA on ESPN a success. Today, we catch up with 15-year veteran managing producer Sara Gaiero, who discusses how she touches the NBA Playoffs.

Tim Corrigan, senior coordinating producer for the NBA on ESPN on Sara Gaiero

“I’ve known Sara for a long time. She grew up on this [NBA] project as a graphics producer and took on more responsibility and has become a leader in the graphics department. She came in and was a sponge and has earned more and more respect and opportunity. The next step for her was becoming an associate director, then becoming a managing producer. Sara went from impacting one show, to multiple shows, to interacting with multiple departments on multiple sports. She’s gone from being a rookie free agent to being a big time player.”

How would you describe your ESPN NBA job?
My job is twofold. I consult and collaborate with our creative services team to manage the distribution of elements and animations for our event and studio teams. Additionally, I’m an associate director so I travel to the games. While on site I coordinate the timeouts with our folks on location and in Bristol. I’m also the main point of communication between our truck and our studio folks in Bristol. Another part of my job is to look for ways to integrate our sales elements to help support the stories being told during the broadcast.

What is game day like for you?
Game days are fun and can be long. I’ll get to the production truck nine or ten hours before the tip. I make sure my station is squared away, my video wall has the inputs I need, etc. I’ll then work with our EVS guys and technical director to make sure we load our elements that we’ll need later that day. I’ll consult with the producer on what video packages and sound bites we want for the show that night. I’ll work with our EVS guys to get those pre-produced for the shows. Once the commentators get to site, that’s when we really settle in and get ready for SportsCenter hits and the game.

Who are some of the colleagues that help you get your job done?
There’s so many great people that I work with on a daily basis that help me be successful at my job. Under the guidance of Tim [Corrigan] and Tommy McNeeley – they’ve created an environment where every voice matters. They really push people on the [NBA] project to think of ways to improve the content and to better the overall presentation of our product. We also have such a great technical team. They are the best in the industry at their positions and they’re dedicated to putting the best product on our air.

What’s your best moment at work?
I’ve worked on so many different projects, but the event that I always look back on is the NBA Finals. Just being able to see that project from beginning to end, and to see us crown a champion on our air in one of the highest profile sporting events that we air is special. This season will be my fifth NBA Finals.

What are you most looking forward to during the 2015 NBA Playoffs?
I’m looking for some great games. I’m interested in seeing how the Western Conference shakes out. I’m also really excited to see if LeBron James can take the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals. I think it would be a great moment for the city of Cleveland and really exciting television.

Who’s your NBA team?
I’m a diehard Boston [Celtics] fan. I grew up in Boston. So I’m a Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics fan!

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