The ESPN crew calling Tuesday night’s Kentucky-Kansas basketball game had some fun at the expense of network executive Norby Williamson.
Late in the first half, Kentucky coach John Calipari became exasperated when one of his players picked up a foul. The cameras showed him burying his face in his hands.
Analyst Jay Bilas quickly stepped in to describe Calipari’s appearance.
“That was the look that [John Calipari] had when he came to ESPN and gave a presentation, and his gift was a Dunkin’ Donuts gift card from our boss Norby Williamson. And when he went to use it, there was nothing on it.” Bilas said.
Bilas and partner Dan Shulman shared a laugh.
The story is evidently the stuff of legend at ESPN, because seconds later, the producer cut to a shot of Williamson sitting court side.
“Such a good story,” Shulman said. “There’s Norby, who’s still hearing about it today, and said, quote, ‘Tell him to get over it!’”
“‘C’mon, tell him to get over it, he’s still telling that story,’” Bilas said Williamson told him.
“Cal does love his Dunkin’ Donuts, he had a big ol’ cup of it at practice today,” Shulman concluded.
“That was the look that [John Calipari] had when he came to ESPN and gave a presentation, and his gift was a Dunkin’ Donuts gift card from our boss Norby Williamson. And when he went to use it, there was nothing on it! “- Jay Bilas
ESPN then showed Norby courtside. pic.twitter.com/LfNAgB9cmN
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) November 15, 2023
Williamson, who began his career at ESPN in the mailroom in the 1980s, officially carries the title of Executive Editor & Head of Event and Studio Production. In essence, he directly oversees ESPN’s hottest properties, including the NFL, MLB and college football coverage.
Along the way in his career there have been a few stumbles, including controversial decisions to cancel certain shows. Williamson was critical of the late ESPN anchor Stuart Scott’s iconic “Boo-Yah!” catchphrase.
And according to Calipari, he’s been known to hand out a worthless gift card or two.
[Photo Credit: ESPN]