The Lakers and the Clippers open their regular seasons Tuesday night, facing each other at Staples Center. That opening game will be televised on TNT, but most Lakers games this season will be carried by Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes.
Time Warner Cable Deportes calls itself the first and only Spanish Language regional sports network. After last season, the channel decided it needed more Latino presenters - people with knowledge of the NBA and the Lakers. Vice President Pablo Urquiza says that was a challenge.
"It's easy to find people to do soccer or boxing," Urquiza says. "We can get talent, former players, former boxers, that's easy. Now that we're doing the NBA, we needed someone with credibility , that had played the game before."
That somebody is Juan Ignacio "Pepe" Sanchez. He played for the Argentina National Team that won the Olympic Gold Medal in 2004 in Athens. In the U.S., Sanchez played at Temple University and in the NBA for the Philadelphia 76ers, Atlanta Hawks, and Detroit Pistons.
Sanchez joins established Lakers broadcasters Adrian Garcia Marquez and Francisco Pinto as a behind-the-bench reporter and courtside commentator. Sanchez says while his expertise as a former player is valuable, he knows Spanish-Language viewers still want more emotion in their coverage.
"We express ourselves maybe in a way that relates more to soccer, you know that passion of the game," Sanchez says. "That has a lot to do with the lakers an TWC trying to reach out the Latino community in a way that they feel identified – not only with the language, but also with the emotion."
TWC Deportes Vice President Pablo Urquiza says the network wants to provide more than a simple translation of the English-language play-by play.
"We didn't want to have like 'Kobe…Nash…Gasol,'" says Urquiza, mimicking the far less animated tone of English-language game coverage. "That's not who we are, that's not how we do television. That's not how our people consume media. We always bring passion to everything that we do, and that’s key."
KNBC-TV's Mario Solis and Beto Duran of 710 ESPN will also contribute to TWC Deportes' Lakers coverage.
At the start of last season, some fans had to miss a few games because of disputes over the extra money that Time Warner Cable wanted for its new Lakers channels. With all of that settled, now the channels are trying to make sure both cable providers and subscribers get their money's worth.