“What time is it!”
When you heard Cliff Levingston yell that on Saturday mornings then you knew it was time to get your fix of NBA highlights and stories as Michael Jordan’s main man Ahmad Rashad along with sidekicks Willow Bay or the too cute Summer Sanders spent a day hanging and living a day in the life with your favorite players.
NBA Inside Stuff was YouTube webseries, Shaqtin a Fool, and humorous “behind the scenes” content you see on Instagram and Vine before their time. It was 30 minutes of basketball heaven and the only show in town, years before NBATV, CNN’s NBA Today, NBA Action, Inside The NBA before it became funny, DVDs and any online basketball content that was accessible 24/7. The show was the perfect way to end your dose of Saturday morning entertainment consisting of cartoons, Saved By The Bell, City Guys and HangTime – or Yo! MTV Raps & BET’s Rap City if you strayed from NBC’s programming for some your hip hop fix.
As the show went from infancy to dominant prime to fading twilight years, we also saw the birth and rise of digital content, online media, NBA’s switch from NBC to ABC and radical changes in the consumption of media and habits of the show’s target market that became used to searching and finding what they want, when they want and where they want via mobile devices and apps available on computers and devices for televisions and gaming systems. These changes all lead to the eventual retirement of the show because it could no longer compete in the new world of digital media and maintain the supporting fan base it once had that was willing to wait a week for filtered content with commercials.
Now here we are 8 years later in a world that loves reboots and zombies and NBA Inside Stuff is back! Back from the dead with new hosts Grant Hill and Kristen Ledlow. Back from the dead and feeling …dead! When I first heard about the reboot, my initial response was that of the 90s kid in me walking into the arena of my first NBA game but after watching two episodes of the new show, I’m feeling like a character on “The Walking Dead.” A character that sees a loved one that resembles a person from their past but after trying to interact with it, realizes that it’s not the person they once loved – it’s a lifeless shell of that person that lacks the soul and humor of the original loved one.
This has become a common problem and trend in Hollywood too where loved films are brought back but without the fun and joy that made them cult favorites. Take the brutal borderline nihilistic “Evil Dead” reboot from last year. They took a campy Bruce Campbell classic and turned it into a panned box office bomb that has already been forgotten. Then we have the “Robocop” reboot coming to theaters next year. Although the original version is found in the Action aisles of the 300 remaining Blockbusters that will be closed before the premier of the new Robocop, the film is a satire comedy. From what I have seen and heard of the reboot, the chuckles and comedy touches will be replaced with a more serious tone.
Those questionable choices were also made for the new NBA Inside Stuff. We went from a cool and confident Ahmad Rashad cracking sarcastic jokes at his interviewees (like Kevin Garnett) to Grant Hill struggling to read from a teleprompter and asking the interviewee (Kevin Garnett) if he’s qualified to be hosting the show. We went from light recaps with Ahmad narrating and yelling the days of the week in Rewind to hardcore news recaps with graphics for each day of the week that’s as serious as the ones in “The Shining.” Jam Session used to be fun montages made up of highlights and music videos and now it just feels like a promo for a new single with dark close up basketball footage that’s hard to appreciate.
I was originally going to release this post after the pilot episode but thought I should wait until I see the 2nd episode before making any final judgments. So I watched the 2nd episode and although I’m still keeping my fingers crossed to witness a resurrection, I’m afraid that this show was D.O.A.
Let’s take a visual look at the differences by comparing the elements and segments of the past and present.
THEN: HOSTS (go to 1:00 mark)
THEN: INTERVIEW (KG’s makes his Inside Debut as a rookie)
(my apologies on the tracking lines but that’s what happens to VHS tapes recorded on EP from 1995)
NOW: INTERVIEW (KG is the first interview on the reboot)
THEN: NBA REWIND
NOW: NBA REWIND
THEN: JAM SESSION
NOW: JAM SESSION