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Broadcasters transmit Finals to 175 countries

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Tucked up in a corner of the Delta Center - right there at the top of Section 16, under the suites - is a small enclave that looks like something right out of the United Nations.

There are 20 stations, each bedecked with its own colorful flag placard. The flags represent BosniaHerzegovina, Mexico, Italy, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, Israel, Greece, Belgium and Spain, to name a few.And when the Jazz and the Bulls are going at it, this area sounds like the United Nations would if all the ambassadors started talking at once.

You've got your rather histrionic broadcasters screaming in Language A sitting next to your reserved broadcasters speaking in moderate tones of Language B (and trying to shush the other guys).

And the ringmasters of this zoo are the folks at NBA Entertainment. In addition to documenting everything that happens in and around the Finals on videotape, film and in still photos; producing shows ranging from NBC's "NBA Inside Stuff" to Comedy Central's "The Sport Jerks NBA Tour"; operating the Web site (NBA.com); and producing multiple radio feeds, NBAE is charged with coordinating international telecasts of the NBA Finals that go out to 175 countries through 93 international broadcasters in 41 languages - including Arabic, Hebrew, Serbian and Bulgarian.

"We actually have to turn people away based on space," said Greg Winik, NBAE vice president of programming and broadcasting. "The NBA does not have a lot of tickets to play with."

"If there was room, it would probably be double" the number of on-site broadcasters, said Stephanie Schwartz, NBAE director of international programming.

Schwartz and her team have been working on the international TV side of this since the beginning of the year. One thing she never has to worry about is that there will be plenty of interest in carrying the NBA Finals.

"There are no countries that I'm surprised are interested. There are countries I'm always impressed that they're able to come up with the funds to be here," Schwarz said. "They're very proud of it. They come in and they boast, `I'm not going to the world cricket finals because I'm here instead.' "

For Terry Schindler, who produces the international telecast, it's a different experience dealing with multiple broadcast teams at the same time. It's sort of one-way communication through the broadcasters' ear pieces.

"When you're talking to 20 different broadcasters, basically I can get in their ear and they can't talk back to me," she said. "It's a little different from the normal dialogue that goes on back and forth."

And, of course, some of those broadcasters can't speak English and may not want to hear Schindler counting them down to a commercial break.

"I know some of them really like it, because they can speak English. But some of them hate it," she said. "So I said, `If you don't want to hear me, just pull me out of your ear.' I can't imagine speaking in French doing the game and hearing me in English counting them to break. I mean, that's disconcerting enough in the same language."

In addition to all of the NBC camera angles, NBAE has a few of its own. Schindler and her director put out a feed that goes to all 175 countries, accompanied by individual commentary.

(Some countries add commentary by having sportscasters watch the action as it is fed to their home countries.)

Some broadcasters are here for their first NBA Finals, like the ones from Switzerland and Bosnia-Herzegovina. And NBAE looks out for them.

"We take extra care when they arrive to walk the arena with them. We ask them to meet with certain officials from the NBA to prepare them," Schwarz said. "It runs pretty smoothly. We are very well equipped to answer their questions when they arrive. And they're not shy to ask more when they ask more."

Not that they're not pretty well versed in NBA basketball, too.

"One of the things that entertains me is that the domestic journalists are always so impressed at how well-prepared they are," Schwarz said.

While there are a few newcomers, others have broadcast the NBA Finals for years. Like one broadcaster from France.

"He's been doing it for 14 years - longer than NBC. But he still has to sit way up there," Winik said with a laugh. "Is that fair?"