The NBA’s World Feed truck is the nerve center of the worldwide coverage of basketball’s biggest contest. The Cleveland Cavaliers are hosting the Golden State Warriors nearby. The site next to the arena houses all of the game footage from inside Quicken Loans Arena.
When you walk into the truck there are a sea of screens and a ratio of about one staff member to ever four monitors. Buttons abound and everybody is relatively quiet as the producers of the telecast focus intently on their assigned tasks.
Steve Hellmuth stands behind the people who vigilantly monitor every corner of the arena and looks on at the tapestry of basketball action in front of him.
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Hellmuth is the Executive Vice President of Operations and Technology for NBA Entertainment. He’s been around live sporting events since graduating from Princeton in 1975.
First, he produced opening telecasts for the 1986 World Series and Olympic profiles for the 1980 games. After that, he became a general manager for Potomac Television Communications. Then, there was the two years he spent as a senior vice president and general manager of Major League Baseball Productions.
With a resume like that, one would expect him to be in one of the many luxury boxes in The Q during game three. Hellmuth was in the World Feed truck making sure that everything was running smoothly like he always does instead.
He told GiveMeSport, “The coverage for tonight’s game three is about 10 times the coverage of your average NBA Game…We take all of the footage from our cameras, ESPN’s cameras, and the other cameras in the arena and focus on helping those outlets compose their telecasts from the numerous angles on display in front of you.”
The entire room was a technological marvel. It surprised me that there was even more to the construction of these telecasts. There are special cameras that provide the “Phantom Cam” super high definition slow motion video that powers the NBA’s Mini Movies on social media after games. Hellmuth also explained how the players were voluntarily selected to be wired for sound during game three.
LeBron James and Draymond Green both elected to wear microphones in their jerseys for tonight’s contest. Hellmuth even joked that players might choose to wear the microphones in the same manner that one would go to a lucky pair of shoes after Green signed up to wear his again after his breakout performance in game two.
The most amazing innovations from Hellmuth’s tenure might not even be here yet as he has pioneered the league-wide adoption of SportVU Player Tracking technology. He said: “The technology is changing the way that teams approach preparing for these games."
SportVU is a big reason for the shift towards three-point shots and close range attempts because of the rebounding rate data now available to teams due to this technology.”
Under his care, the NBA has seen an already worldwide game reach uncharted new heights. As SportVU and Phantom Cam videos continue to evolve, we will all be witnesses to whatever new way Hellmuth discovers for us to watch our favorite stars.