After Oakland, The Jump aims its sights on Cleveland for NBA Finals

(L-R) Rachel Nichols; Zach Lowe; rapper E-40; Tracy McGrady (Gianina Thompson/ESPN)
(L-R) On this Oakland, Calif., episode of The Jump: host Rachel Nichols; NBA Insider Zach Lowe; rapper E-40; NBA analyst Tracy McGrady. (Photo courtesy of Rachel Nichols/ESPN)
Steve Martinez (Photo courtesy of Rachel Nichols' SnapChat)
Steve Martinez
(Photo courtesy of Rachel Nichols’ SnapChat)

OAKLAND, Calif. – On June 2, before Game 1 of the NBA Finals, The Jump aired its first remote production.

ESPN’s newest NBA show (weekdays, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) – usually based in the network’s Los Angeles Production Center – produced an episode from Oakland’s Lake Chalet before a crowd excited about the defending champion Golden State Warriors’ NBA Finals rematch with the Cleveland Cavaliers later that night. The host Warriors won Game 1, 104-89; Game 2 airs tonight (8 p.m. ET, ABC) from Oakland.

Front Row caught up with The Jump’s segment producer Steve Martinez to ask about producing the show on the road. The Jump, hosted by Rachel Nichols, will air at FanFest outside Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena before NBA Finals Games 3 and 4.

How would you describe your job?
My job as a segment producer is tough to describe because I do whatever is necessary to make sure that Rachel and our other guests have everything they need to succeed. But I feel my greatest contributions to the show are my involvement in finding the best editorial content for us and prepping talent before they go on-air.

Rachel Nichols on working with
Steve Martinez
“Our show couldn’t get on the air without Steve – he’s the one who nominates topics for us at the start of each day, and then once we as a group decide what we like, he’s the one who works with all our panelists, getting everyone set up to have the smartest and most interesting discussions. And then he does about a hundred other random things throughout any given day too; we’re a smaller staff, and Steve is great at pitching in with whatever needs to be done. He’s got a great work ethic and – perhaps this is the most important thing to know – he’s the show’s resident New York City native. So if you see that someone has snuck the Knicks into the rundown, that’s probably his doing!

Can you share some recent memorable and fun moments with the different guests who came on the show?
[Rapper] E-40’s slang had everyone on set and in the crowd cracking up. He has a very unique swagger, so his manner of speech is just one aspect of that. But I think seeing E-40 and [NBA Insider and The Jump analyst] Zach Lowe interact was a really fun element that you can only see on our show.

Lil B [a rapper aka “The Based God”] was really excited to be on the show and it showed on air, since luckily The Jump was blessed by The Based God.

What is your favorite part about having shows on the road?
My favorite part of having shows on the road, particularly at the Finals, is the ability to be at the epicenter of the NBA. There was a palpable energy in Oakland that made our show feel like we were on the pulse of the league, and I truly enjoyed that. It is awesome to work with Rachel. She’s obviously really well-respected around the league, so I always know that players, coaches and executives are watching. We had [NBA Commissioner] Adam Silver in studio earlier this season, which was awesome.

I am so thankful to have the opportunity to work with [The Jump’s] NBA analysts like Tracy McGrady and Stephen Jackson, who I grew up watching. I have also developed good relationships with our plethora of reporters on the show, which is awesome since I used to watch all of these people on TV just a few years ago. If you would’ve told me when I was 16 years old that I would be doing what I do for a living right now, I would’ve laughed at you. I’m living the dream.

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