The 2020 NBA Draft was done remotely due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that continues to see record case counts spiking around the country, and as such the presentation of the draft on ESPN looked far different than usual.
Adam Silver delivered picks from a studio on Bristol, Connecticut where ESPN had their panel of analysts and host Rece Davis on site, while Malika Andrews did interviews from a different corner of the studio. All of those interviews had to be remote, as the usual green room was not to be found and draftees watched from home with camera setups and a drawer full of hats of every team. It also meant that the other interviews, like with college coaches who also attend the draft in Brooklyn, had to happen remotely, and in the case of Bruce Pearl, he wasn’t going to be stationary just because the draft was happening.
When Isaac Okoro out of Auburn was taken fifth overall by the Cavs, ESPN dialed up Bruce Pearl who did a video hit very clearly off of his phone with the night sky behind him. This led to plenty of jokes about Pearl’s whereabouts, but the actual answer was funnier than any of them as Matt Norlander of CBS Sports shot Pearl a text and learned he was in a grocery store parking lot in Georgia for the interview.
Breaking news: Bruce Pearl tells CBS Sports he did his ESPN hit on Isaac Okoro in a parking lot of an Ingles grocery store outside LaGrange, Georgia, near the border of Alabama.
“No green room for BP,” Pearl said.
Again, please credit CBS Sports. pic.twitter.com/m0rxGGk8kh
— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) November 19, 2020
It is a time-honored tradition of sports media folks to do radio hits and interviews from all manner of places so I respect this. Now, it might not have been a situation where Pearl was like “I need to get groceries, damn the Draft,” because video of Okoro presenting his parents with a Range Rover indicates they might’ve done their draft party at a restaurant in the same shopping center as the grocery store.
Moments after being drafted #5 overall, Isaac Okoro surprised his parents with a Range Rover. FOE. @isaacokoro303 pic.twitter.com/FOReDWtLON
— SLAM (@SLAMonline) November 19, 2020
Whatever the case, it was a fairly hilarious setting for a draft night interview, but it got the job done and that’s what counts.