Pardon me while I tell you a story of my youth as a way to introduce today’s first item. As a kid, what I wanted to do in life was to be a baseball play-by-play announcer. By the time I became a teenager, my career aspirations expanded to the point that I would be happy doing play-by-play for football and/or basketball too. When I went to college, I immediately joined the school radio station to work on the sports staff; I had a mentor there who taught me what he knew about broadcasting and we were paired as a team. I got my debut in the middle of basketball season in my freshman year doing “color analysis” while my mentor did play-by-play.
My father was one of the nicest and most positive people on the planet. He could hear the broadcast because even though this was a college radio station, we also had an FM station that could be heard well beyond campus limits. My father made it a point to tune in to hear me. After the game, I asked him what he thought; here is what he told me:
“Just be sure to keep your grades up.”
That is not what I wanted to hear; and so, I went back to the station to pull the reel-to-reel tape the station kept from the broadcast. I sat down with headphones and listened and came to this conclusion:
- I was beyond awful. It was painful for me to listen to myself.
With that as background, I suspect that you will understand that I have no expertise or talent in this area. Nevertheless, I must say that the ESPN telecast of the Cavs/Pacers game last night with Dick Vitale and Bill Walton on the mic was equally beyond awful and painful to hear. There was a play-by-play guy there too but he was about as useful as a pedal-powered wheel chair.
Obviously, I do not know who in the ESPN hierarchy emanated the brain-fart that led to this telecast pairing. Whoever was responsible should be made to sit and watch/listen to that televised game on a circular tape for about 12 consecutive hours. Longer than that, it would fall into the category of cruel and unusual punishment.
Taking a step down the ladder from an NBA game, there was an announcement earlier this week that the NBA D-League will get a new name because they sold the naming rights for the whole league. Starting next year, the D-League will become the G-League – or in its full form the NBA Gatorade League. There will be a new league logo and it will be prominently displayed on uniforms and on the game balls; and obviously, there will be Gatorade products available to and used by the players before, during and after the games.
As part of the background information that accompanied the announcement of the Gatorade/NBA deal, it turns out that 40% of NBA players on rosters now spent some time in the D-League. Had you asked me to guess that percentage prior to the release of that stat, I probably would have guessed 15-20%. Interesting…
Here is what a Gatorade spokesperson had to say about this new partnership:
“We have more than 50 years of experience working with athletes and using those insights to help improve athletic performance through innovative sports fuel and equipment. This expansion of our NBA partnership is a great opportunity to not only work with the elite athletes of the NBA G-League, but also continue to lead the evolution of basketball performance.”
I am certainly unsure about anyone or anything being able to “lead the evolution” of anything but let me say this. If indeed Gatorade can improve performance and lead evolution, maybe they can become an ESPN partner and lead the evolution of basketball announcing away from wherever Dick Vitale and Bill Walton seemingly took it last night.
Presumably, this next NBA “story” has been put out of its misery. With the intercession of Commissioner Adam Silver and Michael Jordan, it appears that James Dolan and Charles Oakley have re-established a relationship that is sufficient to remove Oakley’s lifetime ban from Madison Square Garden. I suspect that it would still not be a good idea to sit these two folks next to each other at a dinner party, but they are now in a status where they can co-exist in the same building at the same time. The words of Chairman Mao Zedong seem appropriate here:
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.”
Or as Bernie Lincicome once said:
“The journey of a thousand miles begins by going through a metal detector at the airport.”
The presence of Michael Jordan in this reconciliation endeavor makes me shake my head. Jordan has no historical ties to the Knicks and he is the owner of a rival franchise. From that perspective, he is no different from any other owner in the league – from Mark Cuban to Steve Ballmer to Dan Gilbert. Michael Jordan also appeared in this soap opera in an earlier scene. There were reports that Knicks’ GM Phil Jackson tried to call Jordan at the time that Oakley had been “escorted out” of Madison Square Garden and was arrested by the gendarmes. Unless the good folks at NSA have recorded the telephone call that had Jordan participate in the meeting with Silver/Dolan/Oakley and then they release the recorded call, I am never going to be sure how or why Michael Jordan got roped into this hot mess. But that will not stop me from offering a conjecture:
- Oakley and Jordan were in the NBA contemporaneously and competed against each other. Both men were – and probably still are – fierce competitors. It would be logical to me that they developed a healthy respect for one another as competitors and as men.
- If that is the case – or even close to the case – then perhaps Michael Jordan’s contribution here was to help Oakley channel his competitive emotions.
- That’s the best conclusion I can draw…
Finally, here is a comment from Brad Dickson in the Omaha World-Herald:
“Indiana Pacer Myles Turner admitted he committed to Texas over Kansas based on a dream he had. Remember that the next time you think the job of college recruiter is easy.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………