When basketball went offline in March, NBA executives had a few months to pivot. What they created — a “bubble” environment that kept athletes safe while inviting their millions of fans to participate virtually — harnessed technology to reimagine professional sports. Danny Meiseles, the NBA’s President and Executive Producer of Content, explains how his crews successfully simulated a live crowd, kept players hyped, and completed the 2020 season, plus what to expect when gameplay restarts in December.

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Episode Transcript

Alex Roy

Hi, everyone. This is No Parking, the podcast that cuts through the hype around self-driving vehicles and artificial intelligence with honest conversations about how technology will or won’t change our daily lives. I’m Alex Roy with my co-host, roboticist Bryan Salesky. 

Today, we’re going to talk about basketball. I’m not going to lie, my sports knowledge is a little narrow. Obviously I’m into car racing, Indy car, rally car, you know, Formula One. But I’ve got to confess, I’ve never been to an actual basketball game, unless you count the Harlem Globetrotters. And I’m pretty sure they don’t count. I love them, but, you know.

Bryan, you came into the office recently and mentioned something that had gotten you so excited. You’d been watching the NBA Finals. I’ve seen you excited, but I have not seen you this excited about something outside of work in some time. What teams were you watching, and what did you like about it so much?

Bryan Salesky

First off, professional sports coming back got me pretty excited. So we can start there. And then I started watching it. It was just a great thing to do with family, watch the basketball games, watch the Finals. I was really rooting for the Miami Heat. I’ve adopted Miami as another sort of home in some ways. I love visiting, and they have some really, the Heat in particular this season, had some great rookies that were just doing some pretty big time things and just super fun to watch. And frankly, it’s kinda neat. I always root for the underdog. Right? So I think everybody’s… I’m sure there was plenty of people rooting for LeBron, but I felt like I had to take the other side of it.

Alex Roy

Well, I’m really glad that we are joined in our studio today by Megan Harris, our producer, because you covered basketball big time back in the day as a journalist, right?

Megan Harris

Mostly Division 1 basketball. So this was back in the day, that brief window, when the Memphis Tigers were worth a darn. They were headed to the NCAA championship. But that meant moonlighting a little bit with the Memphis Grizzlies, which I am ashamed to say did not quite make it into that finals round this year. But there’s always another day. But I think the biggest thing, right, is that there’s nothing like being inside an arena on game night. Win or lose, it’s always such a blast.

Alex Roy

If you were among the millions watching the teams go at it inside the bubble in Orlando. The NBA bubble, we’ll get to that. And you notice how well they simulated the crowd noise. Our next guest was responsible for all of that, and a lot more. His name is Daniel Meiseles, and he’s the President and Executive Producer of Content for the NBA. Danny, welcome to the No Parking podcast.

Danny Meiseles

Thank you for having me. Excited to be here.

Alex Roy

Oh, I am super excited to have you here because I know how important it is to be engaged with a game, a match, as an audience member. As a car guy, like for me, the noise is everything. So, however, I want to start with a few basics in case you listening, like me, are just learning about the NBA and have not been following as closely as you should have. The NBA has got 30 teams that play in two conferences, if I understand correctly. The Eastern Conference and the Western Conference, and then there’s divisions.

Megan Harris

A+ Alex. Danny, you can correct me if I’m wrong here, but the league was one of the first professional sports associations that suspended its season in March. Lots of other sports leagues immediately followed suit. The NBA was kind of a trendsetter in that way. And also, later on when they were able to return to play in July, again inside that bubble in Walt Disney World in Orlando, I know there were tons of rules about what players could do and how they had to report from medical check-ins, things like that. But the games themselves, it was a long delayed playoff series at this point, resumed with no fans in the stadium. So that’s been the norm, right? But they had a pretty remarkable setup in terms of that simulated crowd sound. And Danny, that’s why we wanted to talk to you, tell us how that came about.

Danny Meiseles

Our season stopped March 11th. We actually, it was during an ESPN game that was being telecast. And it came to light that one of our players had tested positive for COVID. And what was interesting was the week leading up to that, we were already discussing potentiality of games without fans and figuring out what would that look like and how many people can you get into an arena. And every municipality, every city was different. So we were focused on an ABC game that we had that Saturday night. So when we locked down… You know, when we were shut down because Adam Silver made the decision that we didn’t want to put any players in jeopardy or fans in jeopardy or team personnel in jeopardy of catching COVID. And it was all so new back then, you know.

We stopped the season and then we immediately got into, okay, but what are we doing. And I give credit to Adam Silver, who was very focused on what is our restart plan. The science will lead us. And then once we really figured out our science and our medical protocol, and we knew we could do it, then we had to focus on what’s the structure going to be. Because as you said, you know, we still had a certain amount of games left that led into the playoffs. So how do you make it fair for teams that were vying for getting into the playoffs, but there wasn’t enough runway of season left? So what we had to do to was figure out how many teams were going to be able to get into the bubble and then what was going to be the schedule for those teams. And then how do we make it fair?

So we did a couple of different things. Right? We played a shorter schedule. We had 22 teams that were the top 22 teams. We actually had a play-in for the first time. So once we had the structure set, what is our game going to look like? And what was really interesting was, again, starting with Adam and Mark Tatum, our Deputy Commissioner, was like, ‘We need to work with our players. We need to work with our coaches. We need to work with our GM’s.’ And it’s interesting that you’re so focused on the sound, but so are the players. The players want that. They feed off fans. So we really did have to work with the players to get to that level.

But there was so much work that we had to do to get to that. There was so much making the court. You know, my area focuses on not just game presentation, which we’re talking about, but also the broadcasters and working with TNT and ESPN and ABC. Saying, ‘Okay, well, for the last 50 years, you’ve had cameramen on the court holding a camera, sitting on the court. You can’t do that anymore because we’re not just saying six feet distance, we’re saying 20 feet distance. No one’s coming on the court. No, one’s getting near our players, even with a mask.’ So now everything was, how many different robotic cameras can we set up? How can we do this differently? Yes. Fans are going to be very much excited for us to come back, but what sort of innovations can we bring to the table now that we don’t have fans who are sitting in the seats? So, if you notice we had like a camera that slid from left to right, and right to left. So you were able to see movement like that. We put cameras where we’ve never put them before. So there was a lot of work just really thinking different. And then from that, how do we then put it all together?

Bryan Salesky

The whole experience was pretty impressive. I mean, I was Googling all the time when I was watching these games. How did they do this? How did they do that? You know, how did the crowd noise part work? But you’re right, it’s more than the noise. I mean, you had a great partnership with Microsoft that had, I think, teams integrated bringing in virtual fans. Right? That you picked from whoever was supposed to be the home market. Is that how it worked?

Danny Meiseles

Correct. We partnered with Microsoft and they obviously had, you know, the new product that they have, which is actually really important now, when we live in this world. Do you know Microsoft Teams? So it was actually like the perfect marriage. And we worked with them to then… Okay, so we’re going to use Microsoft Teams. Now, what LED boards are we putting up? And we had three different arenas. We had to have everything look the same. We had to make sure that the players were comfortable playing to an LED screen and back of a camera. The technology that had to really make this happen was incredible.

Bryan Salesky

I have to tell you that it was so much more refreshing to see fans streamed in than seeing cardboard cutouts. So thank you for not going in the lazy route. And then in terms of the court noise. So just clear this up for me, because this is the one thing that the forums weren’t totally clear, and some of the articles weren’t clear that I read about it. As you indicate earlier, the players heard the sound as much as the fans watching on TV, correct?

Danny Meiseles

Yes. We had like 66 different sort of inputs and audio outputs. And I was focused on, we were focused on the players and what their experience was, as well as the broadcast. So you at home might’ve been hearing something very much different than what the players were hearing on the court. Players on the court wanted to hear fan prompts, home court cheers, music, a lot more, there’s a balance, a lot more than what we want to hear at home. You want to hear the announcers. You do want to hear prompts, but maybe you do want to hear what players are saying. So it took us… We had 33 scrimmages before our first game. And I actually think that was the most important time for me to be on-site, to really be like a music producer. You know, sitting in the TV truck and saying, ‘Okay, a little bit more here, a little bit more. Okay, we’ve got the TVs set. Now let’s focus on the arena.’ And I’m talking to a guy in the arena like, ‘What are you hearing?’ And then truthfully players afterwards saying, ‘Ah, can you make it a little louder? And can you do this?’

Bryan Salesky

The court was a full soundstage and just as big of a production as it was for what we heard at home. And you really had two different mixes then, which is just incredible.

Danny Meiseles

Besides our teams and their game directors and their musical directors, we also worked with a company called Firehouse, and that was the audio vendor that we used. And I give them incredible props for leaning in, in a big way in this project. But about 30 of us, socially distant, went to a warehouse in Brooklyn and recreated a game experience. And truthfully, those guys got better and better. The biggest compliment you can get was when someone says, ‘I didn’t even realize you guys were playing in a bubble.’

Bryan Salesky

Well, that’s the thing. Maybe the first game I saw was a little bit… It just took a little bit of getting used to, but after that, it was just normal and I completely forgot. And I think you have probably one of the best player protection systems in addition to really experiences for the fans watching at home. I still, to this day, I cannot watch certain other sports. I just can’t do it because it just is not the same. I really feel like you guys nailed the replica.

Danny Meiseles

I mean, I’ve been at the NBA 30 years. It’s not often in your life where something completely new is thrown at you and you can actually start anew and do something completely different. And that was what the excitement for me was the challenge. But then also what was exciting is, now what takeaways can we take from this? So you seem to be a fan now. Thank you very much.

Bryan Salesky

I always have been. My best memory is going to the games with my dad during the bad boys days with the Pistons at the Silver Dome. I still have not experienced a season with the sort of excitement like that. Those were incredible times.

Danny Meiseles

Let me do a shout out or a plug for the bad boys documentary we did. You should see that. It’s really good. But one of the things that came from this, and again knowing you’re a fan, a lot of times fans don’t love our referees.

Bryan Salesky

Jeff Van Gundy has things to say about that, by the way.

Danny Meiseles

But one of the things that came out of this is, because sometimes when you don’t understand something it makes you even more apprehensive to be okay with something. So one of the things that came out of this was… I don’t know if you noticed that when there would be replay review or there needed to be an explanation of a call, the referee was actually going over to the scores table, pushing a button, and you heard exactly what was being said. We never had that opportunity before and now I think that’s something going forward, we’ll never go backwards. Going forward, you will always hear that.

Bryan Salesky

It helped to hear the explanation, even if we were all disagreeing with it.

Danny Meiseles

It does help, because at least it’s like, ‘Oh, OK. I get it. I don’t agree. But I get it.’

Alex Roy

It also gives people something to discuss on the forums. ‘Oh, I can’t believe that was his explanation. You’ve gotta be kidding me.’ I’ve got a question. I used to be a big video game guy, I’m cold turkey now, and one of the things I always noticed about driving games, but also NBA Y2K, like in sports games, is that as you play in these games, crowd noise would go up and down in the game. And clearly, because it’s a video game, it’s automated based on things players are doing. How much of that could you automate, or did you have to manually control all of the elements of the production design of the sound? Could you automate any of it?

Danny Meiseles

In the beginning, it was very much manual. It did become automated as we got farther into it. Once we knew everyone was comfortable at certain levels and you know, ball’s on the basket and boom, the crowd noise would happen instantaneously. You know, I don’t know if I should be saying this but, there was about a two second delay in the Microsoft Teams and what was happening on the court. It wasn’t one to one. And I don’t think anyone noticed because we ended up coming out with such a rhythm and with automation and going into other things. But there were some times where it just worked perfectly. I don’t know if you remember Devin Booker hit a last second shot and hit the shot, but somehow the fan reaction was like… People can’t see me, I’m making a face, like, oh my gosh. And then it went in and the crowd went crazy and the fans and the players went crazy. But sometimes it works perfectly. But to answer your question, it was a slow roll to automation, but we got there a little bit towards the end.

Alex Roy

So moving forward, like all the lessons and iterations of the production design that you had to create and go through to get to where we are now, how much of that are you going to carry forward? Lessons learned so you can automate more of creating great content and carry all this into the future.

Danny Meiseles

And that’s this week’s and this month’s conversations on a daily basis. Because first again, the same way we had let the science lead us to them. What’s our seats? What’s our teams? What’s our season? We have to figure out when we’re starting, how we’re ending. Are we having fans? Obviously with the second wave coming back, I don’t know how many fans we’re going to have. We’re indoor. We’re not outdoor like baseball and football. So even filling up 25% of our arenas, is that okay? So these are the things we’re talking about now. There’s not unlimited sort of budgets. So we created three, in a sense, TV studios in Orlando. I’m not sure how cost prohibitive it’s going to be to set up 30 TV studios in every arena.

But there are lessons learned that I know we’re going to do. Like, I don’t think you ever need a camera man on the court again. I’m actually a fan of the robocams that we have. I think we’re able to get more. I think it’s more of a fly on the wall for certain things. For being in the locker room. For being in the coaches huddle. There’s ways of being there that you don’t need a camera man. So, I’m not taking away any jobs. You still need somebody to direct where that camera goes, but I think you’ll have a cleaner court. I think for the meantime, you’ll have the plexiglass around the scores table. What we were able to do and focus on down in Orlando, and we were thinking about it anyway, is, Bryan, the way we grew up watching games is completely different now.

I mean my kid jumps from his NBA Y2K experience to “watching” a game with me, but he’s doing three different things on his iPad, his phone and probably something else. So, we now have to figure out what’s the content? What platforms do our kids want to watch these games on? And how do they want to watch the game? Maybe we’re a lazier generation, but we’re more lean back. I mean, these kids are lean forward. They want to text. They want to...

Bryan Salesky

They want interaction. They want real time stats. They want like, let me learn more about this player while they’re watching. Right? It’s much more interactive in some ways.

Danny Meiseles

We call it the optimal game experience. So we might take one game, but have it produced five different ways. And that’s what we’re focusing on now. How do we work with our network partners and our regional sports partners and have a different sort of distribution strategy for our games. So kids can do fantasy, they can do stats, they can do influencers. You know, more international, pick a different language to hear the game. So those areas too, we focused on in Orlando with some testing and we’re gonna focus on this year.

Bryan Salesky

Before we move forward, I’ve got to ask this question. So they have different intensity levels, right, in the mix depending on what’s happening in the game or whatever. Did you ever have where… You were in the bubble, I assume. Okay. Did you ever have a moment where you were disagreeing with whoever was selecting it and you’re like sending a text message where you’re like, ‘You got to bump this up or decrease it’? Were you sending little tweaks here and there? Are you allowed to admit this?

Danny Meiseles

The level I think we should do it, right, that we worked with our players and GM’s. After that, I’m like a fireman. I’m only putting out fires. What I was more focused on was the virtual signage, and making sure that that looked crisp and looked good. Because what we did differently, to make it seem like a home game, but you had the same court, we will put team logos on there. Then we would attach their team sponsorship to that. Then also put whatever sort of nba.com or whatever in the NBA wanted to do. So I was, believe me, I was focused on the sound as well.

Bryan Salesky

See for me, if I was in a producer shoes, now that you have all these new things to control, I feel like sending sidewinders to the team during the games the whole time, you know.

Danny Meiseles

Let me tell you something. Those first 33 games, if you were sitting next to me, my phone was blowing up. It was also new to all of us. So to your point specifically about sound, and maybe I ended up focusing more on the visual. But on the audio, the first two weeks was the most important because I also had to protect the players. As I said, we had 66 audio outputs. Right? So for the first time you could hear a player. There’s a certain player, I won’t say his name, who every time he rebounds the ball, curses. Right? So we would have to protect that player. And the audio person would have to push something. That would go away, but then you would have something else to cover it up. There was a lot of that going on. And really working with these technicians who are learning a new sort of skill on the fly.

Megan Harris

Danny, you were talking about tinkering with all these ways to produce games, right? So what’s the off season like for you right now? Because normally you’d have time to do, to think, to play with some of these strategies. But right now you’re just a few weeks out from the start of the 2020-21 season.

Danny Meiseles

The different opportunity we have here that we didn’t have in Orlando is our teams are as passionate or more passionate than even we are. And they know their home markets and they know how they want to market their team. And an experience in Miami is very different than an experience in Detroit, and obviously LA and New York, it’s all different. So that’s one thing Adam, when he became commissioner, has always said, we have 30 innovative business leaders in markets. How do we leverage that? So now, instead of us going to a warehouse in Brooklyn, we can say to the Brooklyn Nets, ‘We’re coming to your arena. We want to test something.’ Or Minnesota, ‘What do you think we should do in regards to this? Or what are you thinking about?’ So it’ll be a lot more executive producers to deal with, but I think it will give us the best result.

Megan Harris

Is it more fun to be that hands-on? To be able to just float in and be like, we’re trying it let’s do it.

Danny Meiseles

Yeah. I mean, look, it’s the look of my life. Right? It’s nerve wracking. It’s anxiety driven. It’s ‘Oh my God, is this going to work?’ But it’s also exciting at the same time. And especially when, you know it’s not for me to say, but when you have that feeling that you stuck the landing. You know, there’s no better feeling. It’s when you guys invent something or you put something in blueprint form and then it comes out and it works well and works right. You’re like, ‘That was awesome.’

Bryan Salesky

A lot of times these crises will spur a lot of innovation and allow you to accelerate the rate at which you can try new things. It lowers the bar to some degree. And I don’t mean that in a bad sense. For everybody to say, you know what, it might not work, but we’re kind of in the situation where like, let’s just try it and see. Cause people are willing to have a little more patience, right? Whether it be management, whether it be fans, whether it be the players. And I guess in my view, it sort of gives you a license to try new things and probably fail more than you did before. As long as it doesn’t affect things like safety. Right? To me, it’s got to make things pretty exciting.

Danny Meiseles

Just stay off Twitter. [laughter] After your first game, you think everything went well, you see the 3000 things that you didn’t.

Bryan Salesky

There’s a reason I’m not on Twitter. It’s a place you go to just get completely demoralized.

Alex Roy

That’s why I do the Twitter stuff.

Bryan Salesky

Exactly.

Alex Roy

Just to be safe. What were the things you absolutely had to get right as you’re rolling this out? And what were the things were like fungible?

Danny Meiseles

Well, what we had to get right, truthfully, was the player experience from the actual game.

Megan Harris

You mean like what the players experienced live in the arena?

Danny Meiseles

Yes. To me, it’s the game above all. It really is. You can’t mess with the core of the game. You have to get that right. And then everything from there, amplify, make it incredible, make it the entertainment property, media property that it is. But you have to get the game right. You know, it’s a competition. So I always felt it’s about the razzle-dazzle. But about 10 years ago, I joined the competition committee with GMs and players and coaches, and you start understanding it’s not just about the razzle-dazzle we want to do. And how do you partner with the coaches and the GMs for them to feel that the game isn’t being messed with? But they also understand that it is a business and it is an entertainment property. About 15 years ago or 10 years ago, we started putting microphones on coaches and getting coaches’ access during timeouts and in the locker rooms.

Megan Harris

Which led to a lot of fun audio and several games.

Danny Meiseles

Yes, but to a limit because then you have the coaches say, ‘You can get me, but I don’t want you doing any of my strategy because the other team could be listening.’.

Alex Roy

It’s kind of like the XFL. Remember that, years ago, the XFL did that for the first time. Like, we can’t actually manage our team this way.

Danny Meiseles

Right. So we actually have an BA representative who’s in the truck, who’s listening to everything in real time and clipping things. But then saying, all right, we could use that only for the library, for future use. Can’t use it for the end game now plausibly live. So there’s a balance on what we can do and where my focus is and how we have to partner with the basketball in an operational aspect of it.

Megan Harris

Yeah. It almost feels kind of counterintuitive and really refreshing to hear that the athletes and the game itself was top priority. And fans, you know, if you got the first part right, then the fans would follow.

Danny Meiseles

Fans, of course, and viewership is just as important. You know, it’s all 1, 1A. But I guess when we started, we had to make sure the game is right. And then how do you make the best experience for the fans around that, around what we’re doing? And we focused heavily on the fan experience, truthfully. And again, I give credit to Adam because before we even came up with the Microsoft Teams, one of the first things he wanted us to focus on was how can we get the fans involved. So we had something else called ‘Tap to Cheer‘, which we did do with Twitter. So you’d be on your phone and if you were feeling excited and you wanted the crowd to be more hyped, you tapped your phone and you would get, the crowd would become higher and higher and higher. We didn’t want to be the cardboard cutout league. We wanted there to be sort of a one-to-one connection, and keeping our fans involved in the game was like a number one priority,

Megan Harris

Danny, burning question. Did that Twitter feature actually function? Did it work in real time as advertised?

Danny Meiseles

Yes.

Alex Roy

Of course it did. Haven’t you seen Formula E? Are you familiar with that? Anyone here watch Formula E? Am I the only one? It’s the electric race car series, and people complained that it was too quiet. And so they began this fan engagement thing with an app. And so based on people’s engagement, they would…

Megan Harris

No, don’t get me wrong as a fan, I want that to be real. But you always wonder, right? Like if I’m tapping or are they just giving the crowd a little bit more noise.

Danny Meiseles

No, it was real. And then there was actually stats, like 1.4 million people have been tapping to cheer and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. So then that would air on the broadcast.

Alex Roy

You know, that’s makes more sense than what Formula E did, because the more fans chimed in, they would give that car, I think, more power. You can never do that in basketball. I was watching some talk shows recently, some sitcoms. Well, actually no, it was… Who was the guy? It doesn’t matter. Stephen Colbert? And he was doing his monologue and they were doing the laugh track, and it doesn’t look like as much thought went into that as went into, say, the way you’re managing it. Like, what do studies show in terms of audience participation and engagement when simulated noise is done well, versus not done at all?

Danny Meiseles

We commissioned a fan survey panel. Really, in this day and age data has to drive everything. And to your question before, are we already working on next year? Yes. Do I have the data that shows what people enjoyed about our restart? Yes. And are we focused on using that data to go to the next step? And out of all the leagues, fans appreciated sort of what you’re talking about, the use of fan prompts, the use of music and how we did it. And again, I also credit the working team led by Sarah Zuckert, Carlton Meyers, Paul Benedict, working with our teams. Like Philadelphia, known for being a city that my boo you if the team goes on a 10-0 run even in your home arena, their game presentation director was like, ‘Are you guys okay if we use booing sounds, booing sound effects?’ And we were like, ‘Yeah. That’s awesome!’ So it’s things like that. So we definitely focused on, again Bryan, to your point, and maybe I poo-pooed it a little bit, but those first few weeks, I was and we were micro-managing every sort of opportunity for a sound effect.

Bryan Salesky

That’s what hooked me. I wouldn’t have watched it. To this day, I like baseball, I’m just, I’m having a hard time. I’m struggling with it. Anyway, but I think you have one of the best fan experiences out of any of the professional sports at this point, given what we’re dealing with here. And I’m sure you can’t comment on whether it’ll be a bubble next year and what will all the precautions be. But for what you guys did this season, just given what was handed to you and being one of the first sports teams to get your head around it, adapt, flex, make it happen. I think it’s super impressive. So, well done.

Danny Meiseles

Thank you. A lot of people did a lot of great work. I mean, it was probably the biggest undertaking we, as a company, have ever done, as well with all of our 30 teams. Because there was also eight teams that didn’t come, but also had people, teams and players in their home markets doing practices and doing things. So it was a collective league effort. And I really do credit to our senior leadership team, Byron Spruell from Basketball Operations, Kelly Flatow from the Events Management, Bill Keonig from Media, and of course Mark Tatum and Adam Silver.

Alex Roy

Have you seen a relationship between onboarding new fans because of these efforts during the COVID lockdowns? Cause I know that a lot of sports have complained that they’re unable to attract new fans in the modern era because people are distracted by new media platforms. And yet this seems to be like something really incredible and new.

Danny Meiseles

This was a really interesting time in regards to media. I mean, we all were starving for content those first few months, and I think we all would have watched whatever came on from a live perspective. Yes, we came back, in relative terms, fairly quickly and set everything up. But when we came back, then you also had hockey, baseball, football, then you also have a pandemic, you have the elections, you have social justice strife going on. I mean, and people are interesting creatures, right? Like I got very used to streaming whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted very quickly. I mean, no one watched Ozark quicker than me, I don’t think. I just feel like we were challenged in regards to our overall rating. So our viewership was definitely down, like other properties. They were down. I think we held onto our core fans strongly. I don’t know the data, to be honest with you about new fans who have come in, but it’ll be interesting to see what seems like a more of a regular season and how we come back this season.

Megan Harris

So as you look ahead then, what are you looking to right now to help you design the next season? Right? Cause you’ve only got a few weeks now to plan for it. Other professional sports leagues are in progress. Are you learning anything from their examples or from what you just went through that is fueling the fire for 2020-2021?

Danny Meiseles

The science has to lead us. How are we doing this if we don’t do it in a bubble? That’s the first sort of thing we have to figure out.

Megan Harris

As of this moment, are you planning to do it in a bubble?

Danny Meiseles

I think we would prefer not to be in a bubble just because, at the end of the day, there’s fan revenue and fans want to be fans, they want to go to the game. Right? But at what level can you… How soon are those vaccines coming? How soon is the world going to get back to normal? And plus, I just think being in a bubble is a strain. LeBron James, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat spent three months away from their families. And again, none of us had done this before, even just living in a pandemic. So you have that plus the social justice issues that’s going on. It’s a lot going on in the world. So I don’t know. But again, you just don’t know, and there’s different ways to skin a cat, right? Like do you do some bubble, do some sort of arena? It’s all still being worked out but it has to be worked out.

Bryan Salesky

Well, you’ve got a whole test case unfolding with the NFL right now, so I’m sure you’re paying very close attention.

Danny Meiseles

Correct.

Alex Roy

Well, thank you so much, Danny. It’s been amazing. Danny is the President and Executive Producer of Content for the NBA. Thank you, Danny.

Danny Meiseles

Thank you. And thank you for having me.

Bryan Salesky

So Alex, what’d you learn about basketball?

Alex Roy

That it is a much more professional operation from a technical and technology standpoint than some other sports that I’ve been following.

Bryan Salesky

What did you expect?

Alex Roy

Well, you know there’s people in the car world who had been complaining for years that there has not been a lot of innovation in the coverage of car racing. And different series have tried to add cameras. Drones are too slow. The analysis by the commenters is not always the best and it’s very hard to onboard a new fan. Even in my personal life, it’s difficult. And when you came into the office and started talking about the NBA coverage, I knew it had to be interesting because you’re not impressed by something, unless there’s a there, there.

Bryan Salesky

Yeah, no, it’s true. I mean, the engineering that went into not just, he was pointing out, we were focusing on the sound piece cause that’s kind of neat, but really the whole production they did. From the bubble to how they kept players safe to the Microsoft Teams integration with the virtual fans streaming in, the soundstage, not just for TV broadcast, but for the court. I mean, tuning it to make us happy at home and the players happy on the court. Alex, there’s so much engineering that went into that. I mean, can you believe how much they built and how much progress they made in just a few months? I mean…

Megan Harris

And there’s a ton of stuff that we didn’t even go into. You know, from the way the players were living down there, the way they were able to access their families and connections to the outside world. They really, literally, kind of rebuilt the city around this entire project.

Bryan Salesky

I think it’s a real inspiration for, ‘Hey, you know what, when posed a challenge, adapt.’

Alex Roy

I would love to see a documentary about what we discussed on this episode. That would be, to me, as fascinating as “The Last Dance” and the things that we’ve been running recently.

Bryan Salesky

I’m sure that’s on Daniel’s list somewhere. First he has to figure out how to kick off the next season.

Megan Harris

You’ve heard him say that they’re keeping quite a bit of this footage for future use. So, you know, in the next 10 to 15 years, we could look out for that.

Alex Roy

Great to see you, Bryan and Megan. Thanks.

Megan Harris

Thanks.

Alex Roy

Well, that’s it from us. If you enjoyed this episode and want to engage with us some more, please follow us on Twitter @NoParkingPod. And I’m, of course, everywhere @AlexRoy144. So please share No Parking with a friend, like us, subscribe, give us a good review wherever you find your favorite podcasts. The show is managed by the Civic Entertainment Group and Megan Harris is our awesome, irreplaceable and brilliant producer. 

Until next time, I’m Alex Roy. This is the No Parking podcast.