Every week during the 2015 NBA Playoffs, Front Row has spotlighted one of its many dedicated employees who work “behind-the-scenes” to make the NBA on ESPN a success. Today, we catch up with the production leader of the NBA on ESPN property, ESPN senior coordinating producer, Tim Corrigan. Corrigan, who just got finished producing the most-watched NBA Finals ever on ABC, has worked on the NBA since ESPN acquired the property (2002-2003 season), and he discussed what makes his job so great, his best moments at work and the crucial people on his team who help make the property a success.
How would you describe your ESPN NBA job?
I think it’s one of the great jobs that you can have in sports television. There is only one person each year who gets to produce [each of] the NBA Finals, Super Bowl, World Series and college football and college basketball championships. The privilege and the honor of getting to produce one of these elite championships is unique and I really cherish it.
What is typical show day like for you?
I’ll get together with director Jimmy Moore and the talent first thing in the morning. Then, there’s the staff meeting with the entire production team and the NBA representatives. We’ll then go over to the game site about 5-1/2 hours before the tip, and meet with the department heads – audio, video, graphics, edit and our entire tape group, which is another 22 people. We review and watch clips from the last game and discuss the game plan for the night and make sure everyone’s on the same page. As we get closer to the game, one of the more interesting meetings about an hour before tip is with each coach, myself, Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson and Doris Burke to discuss what we can expect from each team.
Who are some of the colleagues that help you get your job done?
We’ve got a great team and they share a lot of responsibility. On the studio side – Amina Hussein from NBA Countdown. Bruce Bernstein from NBA Tonight and NBA Coast 2 Coast. On the NBA game front there’s Tom McNeeley. Also in supporting roles it’s Kelly Pellegato, Samantha Vanoni, Thomas Kintner and Sara Gaiero. From the operations side, it’s Wendell Grigely, Eddie Okuno and Peter Rientleman. We’ve got a huge staff and there are a lot of folks who are involved. We share responsibilities and make sure we get the best content and technology on air. I have a really good group of people around me, which is great.
What’s your best moment at work?
There are so many best moments. Any time you’re sitting down to produce an NBA Finals game, every moment is a best moment. Whether it’s the Boston Celtics winning the title in 2008 and the unbelievable story of how they came together. Kobe [Bryant] and the [Los Angeles] Lakers’ back-to-back titles. Then we have had this incredible LeBron James story for five straight NBA Finals. The best part is when you to sit down and produce the actual event. Each game, each year is its own story and it’s so unique and so special. When we see these guys win the NBA Championship, and the level of unbridled joy they experience – like Steph Curry Tuesday night – that’s what it’s all about.
What do you think will be your lasting memory of the 2015 NBA Finals?
I think it’s the same thing as it is every year. We bring together this band of people – 250 strong – working towards one common goal. Unlike many other events, you’re flying across the country every couple days and resetting this enormous event. It’s a tribute to our technical team, led by Okuno, to build this 38-camera, 17 super slo-mos show. Both of these teams – Cleveland, Golden State – have different playoff slogans. We don’t have a slogan, but we’re just like them. We produce the event we go back and review and fix what needs to be better for the next telecast. We’ve got the best of the best in every position.
Who’s your NBA team?
I don’t have one. I’m a Notre Dame grad and passionate about the Fighting Irish!