Behind The Scenes

For Brad Gilbert in Paris, it’s tennis by day, the NBA by night

Brad Gilbert interviewing Roger Federer during the 134rd staging of the US Open in 2014. (Scott Clarke/ESPN Images)
ESPN tennis analyst Brad Gilbert, left, is a hardcore Warriors fan. (Scott Clarke/ESPN Images)

ESPN tennis analyst Brad Gilbert (@bgtennisnation) – a lifelong resident of the Bay Area and often-frustrated but ardent supporter of the A’s, Raiders and Warriors – is enjoying Golden State’s run through the NBA Playoffs all the way to The Finals starting Thursday (ABC, 9 p.m. ET).

That is, for two weeks he’s been enjoying it from 5,571 miles away, in his hotel room in Paris where he’s been working the French Open. The games are not on French TV. He uses the ESPN app.

Front Row caught up with Gilbert, who plans to be in Oakland on Sunday for Game 2 of the Cavaliers-Warriors series. He’s very excited about the “Dubs’” first appearance in The NBA Finals in 40 years, when Gilbert was 13.

When and how do you watch the NBA while at the French Open?
I use the WatchESPN app on my iPad. I need it. The hotel has five Arabic sports channels, but no NBA. The games start at 3 a.m. in Paris, so I go to bed at 10 and set the alarm for 3:02 a.m Boom, there’s the tip! It’s not that tough. . .it’s been 40 years since my team’s been in The Finals; there’s no way I’m not watching.

If I were a little more intelligent, I’d plug it into my television. Someone told me you can do that. Wow, that’s next level!

What’s your “unbiased” preview of The Finals?
If [Warriors forward] Klay Thompson recovers from that brutal concussion and he’s 100 percent, no doubt the Dub’s win in five, maybe six [games]. If he’s not right, that’s a big “if” to the series. LeBron is outrageous, but we’re a better team, a deeper team.

You authored a book entitled Winning Ugly. Who in the NBA reminds you of Brad Gilbert the tennis player (once ranked as high as No. 4 in the world)?
We’ve got a guy on our team, Draymond Green, who has an “ugly” game but is effective. He’s undersized and doesn’t do anything the conventional way. He gives his heart and soul out there. I like that.

How well do you remember the last time the Warriors were in the Finals, in 1975?
Incredibly well. I went to both games, Games 2 and 3, which were at the Cow Palace, the team’s home in the 1960s, because the Ice Capades were at the [Oakland] Coliseum. My friends and I bought and sold tickets outside before going in. We probably cleared $500 a night, which is darn good for 13 years old in 1975! Rick Barry [Warriors forward and father of ESPN NBA analyst Jon Barry] was on a mission and we swept the Washington Bullets 4-0.

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