Full Disclosure - On Tuesday and Thursday mornings, I am on the Shan and RJ Show on 105.3 The Fan/KRLD from 5:30 to 10 a.m.; co-host R.J. Choppy is a friend.
That being said, what the Texas Legends of the NBA’s Developmental League did this week reeks of narrow-minded thinking, and that of a team and a league that is laughably unaware of what it is.
The TV voice of the Legends, R.J. Choppy, was told he will not be retained as the TV voice of the team for next season.
It may not gain any traction, but there needs to be a campaign to Bring Back The Chop.
With creative and inventive bits woven into the telecast, Choppy had been successful in drawing attention to a broadcast on YouTube that struggles for viewers.
The Legends are trying to land some of their games on an ESPN channel or Fox affiliates, and it prefers the conservative route to televise a game that will remain mostly unwatched regardless of the platform.
Ask yourself - would you watch a D League game on TV?
It’s not the broadcast that is the problem - it’s the product. It’s minor league basketball that has no hook other than it’s cheap.
There are still far too many people in sports management who refuse to admit that professional sports is entertainment, no different than a Star Trek convention.
Over the past two years, Choppy had interreacted with listeners on 105.3 The Fan and interjected themes during the Legends’ broadcasts. For instance, he had “Catch phrases by Wrestlers,” “Marshawn Lynch quotes,” or my favorite, “Weather Channel sayings by Jim Cantore.”
The bits were so successful it landed highlights and mentions on BlackSportsOnline, Deadspin, The Big Lead, the Weather Channel and other outlets.
He also routinely worked the bits into the morning show broadcasts because they were often so funny. God knows how much that was worth to the Legends in terms of free advertising.
No other D-League broadcast, or game for that matter, in a market of any size will generate so much as a split-second mention by anything outside of small media outlets.
What Choppy and his color analyst Mike Fisher wanted to do was to basically have a version of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” around the game, which typically involve a host of players whose names you don’t recall, or never knew. That concept of guys riffing on sports, movies or whatever other topic around a game is well over due for a try, but networks have been hesitant to embrace it.
The D League, and the Legends, are the perfect places to try things because five people are watching. It should be the place where the NBA tinkers with rule adjustments, marketing concepts, or broadcast ideas.
The D League is affiliated with the NBA, but it is the minor leagues. When it comes to promotions and marketing, the minor leagues are traditionally the place where crazy concepts are welcome in order to attract customers.
That’s what sports fans are - customers.
Instead of embracing the crazy, the Legends and the D League are taking the safe route with its telecasts and thus will offer a conventional product in an overly-saturated market of sameness.
It’s not too late - Bring Back The Chop.