The poignant opener of the ESPY Awards that featured Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade speaking about the recent turmoil in America began with an Instagram post.
After two police shooting deaths that ricocheted through the country and the murder of five Dallas police officers, Anthony posted a call on his social media account on Friday to do more.
“NO more sitting back and being afraid of tackling and addressing political issues anymore,” he wrote. “Those days are long gone. We have to step up and take charge. We can’t worry about what endorsements we gonna lose or whose going to look at us crazy. I need your voices to be heard. We can demand change. We just have to be willing to. THE TIME IS NOW. IM all in. Take Charge. Take Action. DEMAND CHANGE.”
Three days later, one of James’ representatives reached out to ESPY producer Maura Mandt asking for time in the show for James, Anthony, Wade and Paul to speak about the recent tragic events.
“We quickly arranged a conference call on Monday afternoon for Maura and I to get on the phone with all four of them at once to hear what they intended to say and the message they wanted to convey. After listening, we decided that the powerful message should live at the top of the show,” Connor Schell, the senior vice president and executive producer of ESPN Films and Original Content who oversees the ESPYs told For The Win in a statement through an ESPN spokesperson. “The four guys worked on their message over the next 48 hours individually and as a group. From the conception of the idea to the moment they stepped on stage, this was their message.”
ESPY producers Mandt and Aaron Cohen, he said, were the production conduits to help them stage the moment and the network worked through the logistics and a walk through before the show.
“This was [the NBA players’] idea, and their powerful words — the show ensured their voices had maximum impact,” he said.
Source: USA Today | Nina Mandell