Turner Sports tips off the NBA Awards on TNT

Last night, the basketball world turned its attention to Basketball City at Pier 36 in New York City to witness the first-ever NBA Award Show on TNT. The inaugural event created by Turner Sports, in conjunction with the NBA and Dick Clark Productions was designed to give sports fans a whole new kind of experience. The star-studded event officially put a bow on the end of the 2016-17 season by honoring the league’s top performers all on one night for the first time. 

The event was hosted by Grammy Award-winning artist, Drake, the Canadian born actor/rapper who has become somewhat of a global ambassador for the NBA’s Toronto Raptors. Also, the Emmy Award-winning studio team from Inside the NBA of Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal were on hand to add their special brand of entertainment to the event. The night also featured an eye-popping musical performance from global superstar, Nicki Minaj, along with the league’s biggest stars and celebrity presenters Nick Cannon, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Chadwick Boseman. There were even a few surprise cameos from legendary funny man Will Ferrell. 

Nicki MinajDrake and Shaq Inside the NBA on TNT

However, the night really belonged to the stars of the hard court. In the past, the NBA would announce their annual awards over several days as the Championship Finals would play out. As part of the expanded partnership between Turner and the NBA, the NBA Award Show on TNT allowed the season’s most coveted awards, including the Kia NBA Most Valuable Player, Kia NBA Rookie of the Year, Kia NBA Sixth Man Award, Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and NBA Coach of the Year to all be presented in one night.

Rookie of the Year

The NBA also recognized its loyal fans by creating six new awards this year that were voted on exclusively by the fan base through social media platforms Facebook, Instagram and Twitter along with NBA.com. These awards presented by the Inside the NBA studio team included Dunk of the Year, Best Style, Block of the Year, Assist of the Year, and Game Winner of the Year.

Though last night’s ceremony was about the present, the NBA also took the opportunity to honor a legend from the past. An honor roll of All-time great centers led by Kareem Abdul Jabbar took to the stage to present Bill Russell – a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer and 11-time NBA Champion with the Boston Celtics – with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Bill Russell

With all the high-flying accolades and fanfare, the award that hit home most for the Turner-family was the presentation of the first annual Sager Strong Award. In honor of the iconic Turner Sports sideline reporter, the award will be presented annually to the individual that has faced adversity and “remained strong all while exemplifying courage, faith, compassion and grace.”

This year’s award honoree was Monty Williams. Williams has had an amazing career that spanned over two decades as a both a player, coach and currently as an executive as the VP of Basketball Operations for the San Antonio Spurs. In true “Sager” style, Williams moment was a show stealer and it culminated in the presentation of a one of a kind “Sager Style” custom fit suit jacket. Which could become the most coveted sports blazer since the Masters’ green jacket.

Sager Strong

Highlighted by an emotional closing speech by newly crowned “2017 MVP” Russell Westbrook, it was truly an amazing night for TNT, Turner Sports, the NBA and most of all…the fans.  This groundbreaking experience seemed a fitting way to celebrate an unforgettable year of NBA basketball. Based on early returns and reviews, this year’s inaugural event was not only a success, but it also has set a high bar for years to come for this and other sports award shows. 

Check out these fun moments from the NBA Awards on TNT:

Andrew Carlson, employee winner of the NBA Sweepstakes on Turner’s Instagram, posed with his brother from the awards last night. “What an incredible night!” Said Carlson, “Rubbing shoulders with NBA legends like Bill Russell, Kareem, and David Robinson, and current stars like James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Draymond Green was awesome – we felt like celebrities. I had to pick my brother’s jaw off the floor multiple times and now he is super jealous that he doesn’t work at Turner, too."

Andrew Carlson