ESPN’s NBA “retro-cast” sounds like a pretty cool idea

Network will go through decades of basketball broadcast eras for throwback flavor

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
ESPN will launch an NBA “retro-cast” on April 6.
ESPN will launch an NBA “retro-cast” on April 6.
Image: Getty Images

ESPN’s is set to test a new idea on ESPN 2 with an NBA “retro-cast” that will roll out on April 6 during the New York Knicks vs. Brooklyn Nets game at Madison Square Garden.

The telecast will go through multiple NBA broadcast eras during the game, starting with ABC’s 1960s coverage style up through the 1990s and NBC’s version of NBA coverage. There will even be a snippet of ABC’s Wide World of Sports theme played during the broadcast.

This will definitely feed a specific part of the NBA communities’ thirst for throwbacks. We always hear former players and fans talk about how the league “used to be,” so now ESPN gives us a little taste of retro NBA. This actually sounds pretty cool. As long as this doesn’t become the norm, I have no issues with the idea.


ESPN tried something similar, thinking outside the box last April with a Warriors-Pelicans game, where they turned the broadcast into a Marvel Heroes game, incorporating 3D virtual characters, animation packs, and custom graphics. This was any comic book fan’s dream come true.

I’ll give ESPN credit for attempting to evolve their broadcasts and continuing to be an innovator in sports. The worldwide leader in sports also gave us the Manningcast during Monday Night Football last fall, which became a hit for those who have grown tired of traditional football broadcasts. The Mannings seemed to be focused on anything but the game they were covering at different points. But it was accepted because their conversations were entertaining, coupled with the guests they had on, made it work. It just seemed to flow.

Hopefully, we’ll get some of the same during this retro NBA broadcast, minus the Mannings, of course. ESPN plans to have several popular players, coaches, and broadcasters who have played prominent roles in the NBA over the years. And it’s all part of a tribute to the NBA’s 75th anniversary. If all goes well, this could become a regular theme a couple of times per year for the NBA.

Our society seems to love just about anything retro. Old-school Air Jordans are the best-selling sneakers around. Fans love throwback jerseys of their favorite players. There’s even a tv show on Netflix entitled, I love the 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s, etc. So, I imagine this throwback NBA broadcast will do quite well.