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Transition Game: “SportsCenter” Veteran Greg Dowling Now Pilots ESPN’s NBA Studio Shows

After nearly 15 years with SportsCenter, senior coordinating producer - and longtime D.C. basketball fan - brings his breaking news skills to NBA Today, NBA Countdown

Senior coordinating producer Greg Dowling (far left) watches as NBA Countdown unfolds.
(Gabriella Ricciardi/ESPN Images)

[Editor’s Note: NBA Today airs Mondays-Fridays on ESPN from 3–4 p.m, ET, while NBA Countdown previews ESPN’s NBA game coverage on Wednesdays and Fridays from 7–7:30 p.m.]

Fall 2021 marks a substantial period of change as ESPN embarks upon a new approach to its NBA studio coverage. With its new daily show NBA Today – and a new pregame crew and strategy for NBA Countdown – there has been considerable attention for ESPN’s revamped NBA coverage.

Early returns have been encouraging as both NBA shows are up double-digits in viewership, respectively, compared to the 2020-21 ESPN NBA season average.

The ESPN employee charged with steering the ship is veteran senior coordinating producer Greg Dowling.

Dowling, a Washington D.C. native, joined ESPN in 2006 and has spent considerable time during his 15-year tenure on SportsCenter.

Front Row caught up with Dowling to discuss his transition to the NBA property and his roots as a sports fan.

What have been some of your proudest achievements so far at ESPN?
Mostly I have been proudest of seeing those I work with and supervise advance in the company, and hoping I had a small but significant part of each person’s development. On the air, prior to the NBA assignment, most of my ESPN tenure has been spent on SportsCenter with shows right in the thick of breaking news from significant to huge stories. For example, Ohio State fired football coach Jim Tressel five minutes before our show on Memorial Day; ours was the first show on the air when Michael Vick was indicted for his association with dogfighting and also when Barry Bonds was indicted for allegedly lying about his use of steroids.

That breaking news edition of SportsCenter was on for three hours. Our show was also on the air when [NFL reporters] Adam Schefter and Jeff Darlington broke the news that Tom Brady was going to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and when Tiger Woods was in a car accident in February of this year. It was great to be part of the team that earned SportsCenter its first Emmy in more than 15 years for our coverage in 2020.

What excites you most about this new opportunity overseeing NBA studio production?
Not only the chance to guide the two shows, but be part of the change and hopeful renewed success in our NBA Studio look and showcase. Hopefully, as we have seen in viewership, fans will embrace both shows and enjoy watching the NBA content, discussion and coverage. It has been a pleasure to see Malika Andrews thrive as the host of NBA Today along with the strong analyst team in-studio as well as NBA Countdown breaking through so far with such a strong and vested talent team of [commentators] Mike Greenberg, Stephen A. Smith, Michael Wilbon, Jalen Rose and Adrian Wojnarowski.

How did you become an NBA fan? What inspires you about the league today?
I have been an NBA fan since I was a little kid growing up in Washington, D.C. In 1975, the Washington Bullets suffered a soul-crushing sweep to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, but they bounced back surprisingly and won the title in 1978. I still remember the night they won, their top 8-9 players, and still root for the [renamed] Wizards now (they are surprisingly good so far this year . . . shhhh). Ever since I have been an NBA fan, my interest in the league has never languished, so if there was a position or sport for me to switch to off of SportsCenter, the NBA was a natural. Overall, I became a sports fan in the mid-’70s for all sports, especially local.

(L-R): Malika Andrews, Richard Jefferson and Chiney Ogwumike on the set of NBA Today.
(Kohjiro Kinno/ ESPN Images)
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