ESPN has issued an apology after airing outdated footage of New York City during the New York Knicks game against the Miami Heat on Sunday afternoon.
The network aired footage of the Statue of Liberty during a commercial break at halftime. However, fans quickly noticed the old World Trade Center buildings in the background. This implies that the footage was taken over two decades ago as the Twin Towers fell during the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001.
The WTC image went live right after a promo featuring Stephen Curry arriving at Golden 1 Center ahead of the Golden State Warriors’ Game 7 against the Sacramento Kings.
The image stayed on the screen for at least eight seconds, with a message mentioning MetaQuest as the sponsor of ABC’s halftime report.
“We mistakenly used an old stock image, and we apologize,” said Ben Cafardo, ESPN Senior Director of Communications. ESPN is responsible for the broadcast of NBA games through 2025, after a deal signed in 2014.
Despite the mishaps during halftime, the Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals broadcast went on without any other issues.
The Knicks led the game in the first quarter with 32-21. However, the No. 8-seeded Heat continued with a strong performance until the end, beating the home team 108-101.
Game 2 is scheduled on Tuesday, May 2nd at 7:30 PM Eastern Time at Madison Square Garden.
Although using old stock footage for game promos is a common practice, the decision to use outdated imagery of the iconic New York skyline prior to one of the nation’s deadliest attacks was a noticeable misstep.
The attacks occurred many years ago, and the World Trade Center complex has since been replaced completely with the One World Trade Center. It is placed next to the renowned memorial in Lower Manhattan.
Some fans took to Twitter to criticize the mistake and wonder how the network managed to slip up. NYC now has an entirely different skyline compared to before the 9/11 attacks.
A Twitter user, Khaled Abdallah, posted a clip of the broadcast on his TV.
“Pay attention at the end. How old is this footage ABC is using?! Wtf is goin on here?!” read his tweet.
Ohio-based sports media news Awful Announcing quoted the tweet with a clearer clip of the broadcast, writing, “This did in fact air on ABC [ESPN’s sister company].”
“I don’t know how this wasn’t flagged before it went on air,” said Twitter user Chris Jastrzembski.
“NBA playoffs apparently living in a better place timeline than the rest of us,” read a tweet from user Adam J Schmidt.
Last year, Fox Sports also committed an insensitive mistake during its “Baseball Night in America” broadcast.
The network placed the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox logos over the memorial pools at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center site, where the former North and South World Trade Centers stood.
The names of those who died during the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing surround the pools.
Just like ESPN’s mistake, it was aired during a commercial break as well. The superimposed graphic overshadowed the actual game as the Yankees bagged a 14-1 win.