Summer League is an audition and Georges Niang knows as well as anyone that a good performance here can get you a job.
After securing a full deal with the Utah Jazz following a standout summer a year ago, Niang wasn’t playing Monday night at Vivint Smart Home Arena—but he might have still been angling for a gig. The Jazz forward joined Craig Bolerjack, Thurl Bailey and Kristen Kenney on the television broadcast, showing off some of the skills he recently acquired at the National Basketball Player Association’s “Broadcaster U”.
“It’s definitely something I could see myself doing post-career,” Niang said.
“Broadcaster U” was created in 2008 and has provided instruction for more than 60 NBA players over the years. Alumni include TNT’s Shaquille O’Neal, ESPN’s Richard Jefferson, and former Jazz point guard Brevin Knight, who is now part of the Memphis Grizzlies broadcast team. This year’s class included Niang, Isaiah Thomas, Jameer Nelson, Justin Anderson, D.J. Augustin and Jon Leuer.
“I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and try something new,” Niang said. “People have always recommended me looking into broadcasting.”
The group broke down film of the NBA Finals in a studio, practiced sharpening their takes and debating on camera, interviewing, stand-ups and game commentary.
“It’s invaluable for our players to get this experience,” said Jeff Lamp, the NBPA’s career development counselor.
The players, all confident and poised on the court, showed some nerves as they ventured into the studio, Lamp said. That included Niang, though the Jazzman quickly got comfortable.
“If you’ve been around Georges, you know he has a terrific personality,” Lamp said.
Niang didn’t show any nerves on Monday night as he took over for Kenney as the sideline reporter, the job he said he thought was most difficult during his time at “Broadcaster U”.
“I just think you really have to have a clear mind to know what you want to say—and it’s live,” Niang explained. “So when something goes wrong you just have to power through.”
On Monday, Niang also interviewed his teammate, Danté Exum, catching up with the Jazz point guard on his rehab and offseason in Los Angeles.
Niang isn’t neglecting his current job. The 26-year-player spent five weeks at the P3 performance training facility in Santa Barbara, working on his strength and mobility.
“I took a lot of time to focus on that so that now I can really hit it hard and take strength and conditioning to a new level,” he said. “Every year that you have a little success, you want to continue to build on that going forward. I think this is a huge year for me and I want to make the most of it.”
But Niang could see himself in the studio whenever his playing days are done.
“When K.K.’s ready to hang them up,” Niang said of Kenney, “I’m ready.”