Full Court Press speaker series aims to inspire basketball fans in Toronto

Jan 26, 2015 | Sports

FULL COURT PRESS is a new speaker series about basketball that features a diverse media panel. (Kevin Kennedy/FULL COURT PRESS)

FULL COURT PRESS is a new speaker series about basketball that features a diverse panel of sports journalists in Toronto. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Kennedy/FULL COURT PRESS)

By Willy Phan

FULL COURT PRESS is a new speaker series debuting on Jan. 29 in Toronto that will provide NBA fans the opportunity to engage in a live discussion with a diverse panel of basketball experts and insiders.

The panel consists of NBA TV Canada host Akil Augustine, Sportsnet columnist Michael Grange, Toronto Star reporter Doug Smith, and TSN radio personality Duane Watson. Sportsnet radio reporter Megan Robinson will host the panel and help facilitate discussion with the audience.

Event organizer Kevin Kennedy told Humber News that the concept behind the live hoop-themed show originated with his baseball speaker series Pitch Talks.

Kennedy said he noticed the success of the fan engagement from Pitch Talks and later expanded with a speaker series about hockey called The Big Ice. Like its predecessors, FULL COURT PRESS will feature unique perspectives from different members of the sports media in Toronto.

Some of the panel members are employed by rival networks and are restricted from appearing on-air together, but FULL COURT PRESS will allow them to discuss topics about basketball in a relatively unfiltered environment.

“I think the live format allows for a kind of conversation that you can’t get on other platforms,” said Kennedy. “I wanted to have a platform that would allow for a little bit more honesty and authenticity and less production.”

Even though Watson is employed by TSN, he said there is no issue with participating in a live public show with personalities from rival network Sportsnet.

“Me and Grange are cool. We talk all the time,” said Watson, who produces and co-hosts 1-On-1 With Will & Duane on TSN 1050. “All of us are basketball fans…all of us are passionate of the game.”

“I think there might be some difference in opinions for sure, but it should be great for dialogue,” continued Watson. “I mean if we all just sat there and said the same thing, it would be boring so I’m looking forward to it.”

Augustine said that he hopes the event will inspire younger basketball enthusiasts while the sport continues to grow in Toronto.

“Personally, my objective is to put the information in the hands of the next generation of storytellers,” said Augustine, who is the creator and host of NBATV Canada’s “The Hangout.”

Tickets for the inaugural event can be purchased online for $15 each and Kennedy said he is already thinking ahead.

“We’re planning to do a second show in late February with (Toronto Raptors broadcasters) Matt Devlin, Paul Jones and a few other guys,” said Kennedy.