Josh Okogie was floating around the NBA TV set in early May, observing everything that goes into the day’s worth of NBA TV and TNT basketball broadcasts with a number of other players as part of a one-day internship program.
Then he was called into action.
“It was kind of an opportunity that just came up on its own,” the Timberwolves’ guard said. “We walked into the studio, and they were kind of going over what they were going to say and what the layout for the production and the show was going to be. They saw me and Thaddeus Young and went ‘Oh, we can have those guys on the set, too.’ So we’re like, ‘OK, we’ll do it.’”
It was roughly 6:30 p.m. at the time. The show was set to go live in roughly 90 minutes. Okogie’s topic: defending James Harden. His now famous block of Harden’s patented step-back three-pointer helped make Okogie an expert of sorts on the topic of defending one of the game’s top perimeter scorers.
But Okogie had never discussed such a topic aloud. It’s not the type of thing he openly talks about.
“I was asking myself, should I script something? Should I have some speaking points to go off of? Or should I just go in there with an open mind?” Okogie said. “I chose to go in there with an open mind, because I didn’t want the jitters to have me freeze and then try to remember something while freezing up. I think that’s kind of like a double negative. So I tried to go in there with an open mind.”
.@CallMe_NonStop of the @Timberwolves takes us into the mind of a defender whose task it is to stop James Harden's offensive moves. @NBA | #NBACareerCrossover pic.twitter.com/jJYEpCNmGw
— NBA TV (@NBATV) May 2, 2019
Okogie went on stage and explained how he remains ready to defend Harden’s stepback by never setting his feet so he’s constantly in a position to react to movement. Okogie also explained how he handles Harden’s drives by absorbing contact.
He provided valuable insight in a clear and concise manner.
“Oddly enough, when I got up there, everything kind of ran smoothly,” Okogie said.
Okogie didn’t actually see how he did until he got on social media a while later and saw the clip.
“A lot of the people who saw it said I did a great job,” Okogie said.
The young guard figures to have many, many years left in the league, but Okogie does have an interest in entering the broadcasting realm post-playing days. That’s part of the reason why he jumped at the chance to spend a full day — roughly 11 hours — at the NBA TV set through the league’s career crossover job shadow program.
He already watches some of the programming, from The Starters to NBA Gametime to Inside the NBA — “I think everybody knows that’s just pure comedy,” — and sees himself potentially pursuing a career similar to that down the road.
“I think it’s actually fun talking about basketball,” Okogie said. “To be able to not only talk about it, but also give your two cents of how things are and how things should be, I think it’s just something I could fit in and do well at.”
The internship day gave Okogie a glimpse into what all goes into those broadcasts. He met countless people from various parts of the company, from human resources to public relations to products to programming to on-air talent to those in the control room. Okogie asked all of them questions, gathering info throughout the day.
“It’s just so many things that are going on between the control room and making sure the site is put up properly, making sure the scores are always updated, making sure everything is running smoothly,” he said. “Even in the control room, how they tell people who are actually in the broadcast room how much time a highlight is going to be up so they know when to stop talking about it, so it’s actually crazy, and a lot of stuff that we don’t know as a consumer.”
Okogie is making sure to spend time this offseason in Minneapolis, working out with some of his younger teammates, developing his game and also taking time to see the city — something players don’t get much time to do during the campaign between training and recovery.
But he’s also making time to pursue other interests. Aside from his brief broadcasting internship, Okogie also spent time with Atlanta United FC of Major League Soccer, and he threw out a first pitch at an Atlanta Braves game.
“I think it’s definitely important, especially in the offseason, to kind of give a lot of your energy to things that make me happy,” he said. “Soccer is like the first sport I played. A lot of my older siblings played it as well, so I’m like why not go show the soccer team some love? I went to the Braves game and threw out the first pitch — why not throw out the first pitch? I’ve always seen everybody else do it, so why not take advantage of it? Broadcasting is something I’m interested in, so why not try to do a broadcasting internship? It was really fun.
“There’s other things I want to have planned this summer, so I think obviously having a balance between that and getting better. I think there’s no problem with doing all that stuff.”