Friday, June 18, 2010

Sports On The Air: ABC Team Has Great Series

This is what I’m thinking:

* The ABC team covering the NBA Finals of play-by-play man Mike Breen and analysts Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson were as good as any announcing team in any sport.

That was especially true in the Los Angeles Lakers' 83-79 victory over the Boston Celtics Thursday night in Game 7.

Breen is the underrated one, a play-by-play man who also acts as a third analyst because he sees so many things before Van Gundy and Jackson get their turns. He also is exceptional bringing out story lines, like the recovery of Laker star Ron Artest from his past image problems.

Breen didn’t make it too sappy, either, bringing out Artest’s good and bad points Thursday and noting that Artest even thanked his psychiatrist in his post-game interview. Well, it wasn’t exactly an interview, since Artest didn’t allow ABC's Doris Burke to ask a question.

Van Gundy is exceptional in two areas – detailing coaching strategy and finding humor in unexpected areas. Let’s hope he doesn’t get hired to coach again for awhile.

During Thursday’s game, he noted that the Lakers won the game in the fourth quarter at the foul line.

“The Celtics are going to look back and say we didn’t even make them make shots,” Van Gundy noted. “They just put them on the line.”

Jackson has become the master of big statements. After the Lakers’ win, Jackson noted that the introduction of Magic Johnson as “the greatest Laker” had to be amended now that Kobe Bryant has five rings.

“Move over Magic,” said Jackson. “Kobe Bryant has supplanted him as the greatest Laker.” Amen. Let's hope that Jackson doesn't get a coaching job, either.

The tight, offensively-challenged game had an 11.0 rating on Channel 7, the local ABC affiliate. Though well below the 18.2 national overnight rating, the 11.0 is a big number for the NBA here and gave the series a 7.2 average for the seven games.

The National Hockey League’s margin of ratings victory here over the National Basketball Association in the two sports’ championship round wasn’t as big as you might think in this huge hockey market.

The Chicago Black Hawks’ six-game series with the Philadelphia Flyers for the Stanley Cup finals averaged an 8.0 rating on NBC affiliate Channel 2 and Versus. Of course, the two games on cable’s Versus brought the Stanley Cup average way down. Three of the NBC games had double-digit ratings here.

NHL ratings are more likely to be influenced by the home markets than any other sport.

The theory that NHL ratings exploded during these finals ignores a simple fact. With the Chicago and Philadelphia markets involved, ratings were bound to increase dramatically. If smaller market teams make it in 2011, ratings likely would drop just as dramatically.

* You may have read that TBS switched its games last Sunday to carry the second start by Washington Nationals rookie pitcher Stephen Strasburg against the Cleveland Indians.

Then you may have been surprised the game wasn’t carried here on Time Warner or satellite because the Indian games are protected here. Only baseball knows why they are protected. It’s a silly blackout rule since most of the area can’t get Indian games on TV.

Of course, that’s also the reason some ESPN games involving the Indians aren’t carried here, either.

* Channel 2’s Ben Hayes continued to impress as a sports anchor while Ed Kilgore vacations and Adam Benigni subs on “Daybreak.” But my suggestion that Channel 4 vie for Hayes’ talents isn’t practical. Channel 2 General Manager Jim Toellner said Hayes is under contract. He added that Hayes’ also was named the station’s employee of the quarter. Channel 4’s search for a new sports anchor-reporter will have to be elsewhere.

* I turned on WBEN-AM long enough Thursday to hear Rush Limbaugh say he is going to be the next celebrity featured in the Golf Channel series, “The Haney Project.” Charles Barkley and Ray Romano were the previous celebrities that Hank Haney tried to straighten out. It is unknown if Limbaugh’s problem is that he slices to the right. The extreme right.

* Funny mistake of the week: Channel 2 sports anchor Stu Boyar reported that North Carolina was in the World Cup when he meant to say North Korea.


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