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ABC Sports announces its lead NBA broadcasting team

Brad Nessler, one of sports television's top play-by-play announcers, and NBA Hall of Famer Bill Walton, an NBA national television analyst since 1990, will team as the lead duo for ABC Sports' and ESPN's coverage of the NBA starting this fall. Mike Tirico, widely acclaimed for his work both as ABC's golf host and studio host and play-by-play caller for ESPN and ABC Sports, will handle a select number of play-by-play assignments and host ABC Sports' studio coverage. In addition, Tom Tolbert, who quickly earned acclaim for his quick wit and colorful analysis, will team with Tirico as an ABC studio analyst and as a game analyst for ESPN.

"With the NBA returning to ABC Sports for the first time in nearly three decades, we have assembled an announce crew that provides credibility and instant name recognition," said Howard Katz, President, ABC Sports. "In Mike and Brad we have two of the hardest-working and most versatile announcers in this business. Bill is one of basketball's most respected, articulate and informed commentators. His inside knowledge of the NBA, combined with his unique personality, will both inform and entertain our viewers. Tom is a rising star in this business with a refreshing and opinionated style."

One of the industry's most versatile commentators, Nessler, a 22-year broadcasting veteran, has called many of ABC Sports' and ESPN's top college football and basketball games, including the BCS National Championship game. He joined ESPN in 1992, and added ABC Sports responsibilities in 1997. His resume also includes work on the Olympic Games and the NFL for CBS. He is the former radio voice of the Atlanta Falcons, Georgia Tech basketball and Minnesota Vikings.

Walton, a three-time NCAA player of the year at UCLA and a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, joined CBS Sports in 1990 and has worked for NBC Sports since 1992. This past season, he was a member of that network's lead NBA announcing team. He was the number one pick in the 1974 NBA Draft, chosen by the Portland Trail Blazers, and led them to the NBA championship in 1977. His injury-riddled career saw him later play for the San Diego and Los Angeles Clippers and the Boston Celtics, with whom he won another NBA title in 1986.

Mike Tirico, the host of ABC Sports' golf coverage since 1996 also serves as a play-by-play voice for the network's college football telecasts. Since joining ESPN as a SportsCenter anchor in 1991, Tirico has proven to be one of sports television's busiest and most versatile commentators. He was the first host of The NBA on ESPN Radio (1995-97). He has hosted ESPN's Monday Night Countdown since that show debuted in 1993, was the anchor of ESPN's College Football Scoreboard show (1993-97) and has handled college basketball and football play-by-play since 1997. For ESPN, he has hosted SportsCenter's coverage from virtually all major events -- Super Bowl, U.S. Open and Masters golf, Daytona 500 and the NCAA Final Four.

Tolbert joined NBC Sports as a game analyst in January 2002. He debuted on the NBA on NBC studio program as an analyst in March 2002. Tolbert also currently serves as a college basketball analyst for KRON-TV in San Francisco and also co-hosts a popular Bay Area sports talk show on KNBR-Radio. Tolbert, who was nicknamed "Bobcat," was known not only for his colorful personality, but his ever-changing hairstyles during his NBA career (1988-95). In his seven-year NBA career, Tolbert played for four different franchises: Golden State Warriors (1989-92), Orlando Magic (1992-93), Los Angeles Clippers (1993-94) and Charlotte Hornets (1994-95).

ABC SPORTS, ESPN AND THE NBA
Under terms of the new agreement with ABC and ESPN that begins with the 2002-03 season, ABC will be the exclusive over-the-air network for NBA basketball, televising up to 15 regular-season broadcasts. ABC will also carry playoff games, including the NBA finals in primetime, beginning at 8:30 p.m. ET. In addition ABC will televise "NBA Inside Stuff," the league's Saturday morning youth magazine show. ESPN will televise 75 regular-season games, with one game Wednesday nights and a doubleheader on Friday nights. ESPN will also exclusively televise one Conference finals series and an expected 22 games in the first two rounds of the playoffs, as well as the NBA Draft, a Draft preview show and NBA Draft Lottery. The agreement includes extensions of pre-existing deals between ESPN and the NBA covering ESPN Radio, ESPN Classic, ESPN.com and the NBDL

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