With a blend of former NBA players, including a couple etched in Los Angeles Lakers franchise lore, a former beat writer who spent 12 seasons covering the team for the L.A. Times, and studio host Chris McGee running point, Spectrum SportsNet has assembled a group that’s equal parts insightful and entertaining.
On camera, whether McGee is orchestrating between Mike Bresnahan, Caron Butler, Derek Fisher, Robert Horry or a special guest analyst, the goal, regardless of a win or loss, is to provide a complete package to the audience.
Now, that’s not to say it doesn’t come with its share of hurdles for McGee, a self-professed ‘die-hard’ Lakers fan. “We’ve got to deliver the way we see the game and what we feel,” he told LakersNation.com on Blogger Night at the Spectrum SportsNet studios.
“The battles and the challenges are during losses, because there’s a lot of anger. And the first face they see, unfortunately, is mine.
“I have to remind myself, obviously I have opinions and I have things I want to talk about, but the experts are sitting next to me and those are the guys you want to hear from. So I kind of get my point in there but lead them to the conversations and let them drive it.”
The newest teammate McGee gets to pass to is Butler, who after 16 years in the NBA is earning his stripes as a member of the media. It was in Butler’s sixth season that he first began to envision himself working on the other side of the microphone.
“I had a sit down with the legendary Phil Chenier. We were just talking basketball, and I just knew I wanted to be in that chair,” Butler recalled.
“Just listening to the questions and dialogue that we had, I went to Syracuse broadcasting program, I did it for two-straight years. Then I started venturing off and doing sideline and play-by-play (at NBA youth camps) just to get my feet wet.”
Still in the infancy of his broadcasting career, it’s evident throughout Spectrum that Butler is held in high regard. “The great ones work at it, and that’s why we know he’s going to be great,” McGee said.
Butler, like Fisher, brings a younger voice to SportsNet’s programming. But that’s not to diminish the value of Worthy, a three-time champion with the Lakers. “As a former player, I try to bring more why something happens, as far as analysis is concerned,” he explained.
“As opposed to just dealing with highlights and stats — stuff people can just find on the internet. I try to bring more insight, a lot of things people might not be aware of.”
Where Butler and Worthy can provide an understanding from a player’s perspective, Bresnahan is enjoying his new hybrid career. “It’s been a great, great switch for me. I’ve really enjoyed it,” he said.
While Bresnahan has given up the long road trips and other responsibilities that come with being a beat writer, he’s sure to strike a balance between his former days in print and current role on TV.
“I still want to travel once or twice a month, just to have accountability. I don’t want to be a guy at a desk, critiquing a player and just never showing up anywhere,” Bresnahan said. “I also want to do some games at Staples (Center), too. If a player’s got something to say to me, I want him to be able to say it to me.”
Bresnahan has a segment for each game where he highlights three areas the Lakers either struggled or excelled in. Bresnahan harkens back to his days with the L.A. Times in preparing for it by working on his laptop during games.
Regardless of what role the respective analysts or host fill, the overarching sentiment and theme is how well everyone gets along.
“It’s been phenomenal. Dream job, for sure,” McGee said of his time at Spectrum. Getting to work with all these greats of the NBA, it’s been phenomenal. We have such a tight-knit family here.”
Said Butler: “It really is a family atmosphere. From the second that I got here, they made it that much easier for me to make that transition.”
For Worthy, he’s enjoyed watching the Lakers exclusive television home grow over the years. “It’s been great. Developing an infrastructure, creating the chemistry here,” he said.
“It’s been great. It hasn’t been great, because we haven’t been winning, which makes our job a little more difficult.”
For as well as the on-air talent meshes, it would be remiss to not give the control room its proper due. Inside, a producer, director and several members work on a string to keep a live broadcast flowing as if they’re Magic Johnson running the Showtime Lakers.