Much to the surprise of ESPN, the Denver Nuggets are in the NBA Finals this season, which Mark Schlereth knows is disappointing to TV networks and the NBA.
As a national media member and a local radio host, Schlereth has a good grasp on the way the Nuggets have been covered this season en route to the NBA Finals. Following a more than decade-long tenure with ESPN, Schlereth has been with Fox Sports since 2017, in addition to hosting a highly-rated morning radio show on 104.3 The Fan in Denver.
Schlereth joined the latest episode of the Awful Announcing Podcast, which will be released in its entirety Friday, June 2. During the interview, the three-time Super Bowl champion was asked to judge the national media’s coverage of the Nuggets this season.
“I think they’ve done a horrible job,” Schlereth bluntly stated. “But I understand why. I understand the Nuggets don’t rate. I understand the game, I get it. People here in Denver are real butthurt about it, but it’s been a motivational factor for Michael Malone and his Nuggets.”
“This goes back to the 2007 Rockies…that got to the World Series,” Schlereth added. “If you go back and look at that coverage, if you go back and look at what ESPN was doing, ‘Let’s introduce you to the Colorado Rockies. They play baseball in Colorado!’ It was laughable. But again, nobody in the NBA wanted the Nuggets here, nobody in television wanted the Nuggets here.”
Schlereth was asked whether this is just a narrative the Nuggets are using as bulletin board material or if the entire city of Denver holds a grudge over how the Nuggets have been covered nationally.
“The whole city does, oh yeah,” Schlereth said definitively, calling out his former ESPN colleague Stephen A. Smith for expressing his disappointment in having to travel to Denver during the NBA Finals.
“It’s how the national media feels. Brian Windhorst is a guy I worked with forever at ESPN too. After the Nuggets swept the Lakers, he said, ‘It was the greatest performance by a team that’s been swept in NBA history.’ WHAT?! That’s your analysis. Really?!”
Throughout the NBA season, the Nuggets were overlooked as a legitimate championship contender and Nikola Jokić was unfairly slighted as a candidate to win his third MVP award. Even after Denver took Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, ESPN kept the cameras on the winning team for just four seconds before moving to LeBron James and the Lakers for the better part of two minutes. And in the days that followed, ESPN’s debate shows seemingly strived to keep LeBron and the Lakers at the center of their chyrons rather than building topics around the Nuggets.
“It’s mind-boggling,” Schlereth admitted. “But again, from a television perspective, I totally get it. I understand why they do it.”
Listen to Schlereth’s full appearance on the Awful Announcing Podcast Friday, June 2, which includes discussions on NBA players being soft, the prospect of getting bumped by Tom Brady in the broadcast booth, and acting with The Rock.