ESPN’s season-long celebration of the 75th anniversary of the NBA will continue on Wednesday with an alternate presentation of the Brooklyn Nets versus New York Knicks contest – airing on ESPN2 at 7:30 p.m. ET – inspired by the league’s storied history. For the event, ESPN’s Creative Studio team stepped in to make an authentic homage to the iconic eras of NBA game telecasts.
When Tim Corrigan, Vice President, ESPN Production, initially raised the concept of the NBA75 Celebration Game presented by State Farm, the team began their hours of research by watching old games from the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. They focused on visual elements of the telecasts, from camera angles to graphics and beyond.
“It was hard to say, all right, here’s what we can’t do with the on-screen presentation. [The approach] was an effort to try and be reductive, try to be authentic,” said Lucas Nickerson, Creative Director, Visual Storytelling.
With this authenticity in mind, the visuals stayed true to each decade, explained Jeremy Simches, associate art director, who also drove the look of ESPN’s Marvel Arena of Heroes telecast.
The NBA 75 telecast will emulate the 1960s for the first quarter, the 1970s for the second quarter, the 1980s for the third quarter, and the 1990s for the fourth quarter. The first quarter will be in black and white, and the latter decades may harken to the standard definition or “4 by 3” video that viewers would have seen in that era of television.
Working closely with Simches, creative producers Matt Bernabeo and Isa Bristol, designer Nicole Egan, lead designer Luis Llanes, and coordinating designer Jon Nagle shaped the visuals for each decade.
Attention to detail was the key to making these telecasts authentic. For some decades, the scores weren’t always on the screen. Simches and Egan made the design decision to recreate and reformat vintage score graphics, allowing them to remain on screen the entire telecast.
ESPN’s historic logo will evolve throughout the telecast, but it will not be the only one. Another detail was securing various branding true to different eras, including vintage logos for State Farm.
The NBA75 Celebration Game is the latest example of ESPN making another visually unique production, continuing ESPN’s leadership in the alternate presentation space which dates back to the mid-1990s.
The NBA75 Celebration Game telecast begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and the traditional game broadcast will air on ESPN. For more information, visit ESPN Press Room.