Farewell to Jack Ramsay; His Trailblazers were focus of terrific Halberstam book

The basketball world bids farewell this morning to Jack Ramsay. He had a remarkable life as a coach and then as a broadcaster.

It always was staggering to me to hear him on the call at big NBA games when he was deep into his 80s. ESPN put out a nice video tribute to Ramsay.

Also, props to PR guru Joe Favorito for reminding everyone that Ramsay and his Portland Trailblazers were the subject of David Halberstam’s terrific book, Breaks of the Game. Considered groundbreaking at the time and now one of the best sports books of all time, Halberstam followed Ramsay’s Trailblazers during the ’79-80 season.

From the review by Christopher Lehmann-Haupt of the New York Times:

And for slightly more serious readers, ”The Breaks of the Game” is a window looking out onto recent American social history.

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New ESPN 30 for 30: Cheering for ‘Bad Boys’ of Detroit

Living in Chicago, I don’t have many people who agree with my view on the Detroit Pistons “Bad Boys.” They were one of my favorite all-time teams in sports, even if they did mug Michael Jordan.

As much as you might have hated them, you had to admit some sense of admiration for this unique band of characters and how they played the game.

ESPN’s latest 30 for 30, Bad Boys (tonight at 8 p.m. ET), narrated by Kid Rock, gets to the core of the greatest “bad” team in NBA history.

While the players have gotten older, they haven’t mellowed. Said John Salley: “To the people that say we’re thugs and goons, I say kiss my entire ass.”

Now were they a bunch of idiots for walking off the floor and not shaking hands with the Bulls after they … Continue Reading

Behind scenes with ABC for Chicago-Miami game; ‘Do you think Yannick Noah would be a good interview?’

Pleased to announced that I am joining the crew at Awful Announcing as a contributing writer. If you follow sports media, you already know about the interesting and entertaining content produced by Matt Yoder and his crew. Many thanks to Bloguin CEO Ben Koo for making this happen. I am looking forward to drafting behind them, so to speak.

From time to time, I will be doing original content for Awful Announcing. My first piece is a  a behind-the-scenes look at ABC’s production of the Chicago-Miami game Sunday.


I enjoyed spending time with Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, Lisa Salters, producer Tim Corrigan, director Jimmy Moore and the rest of the crew. A highlight was watching how Salters’ memorable interview with Joakim Noah’s father, Yannick, unfolded in the truck.

From the story:


Word, though, filters in to the … Continue Reading

So long for a while: Lakers demise not good for networks

Question: Name the only NBA team with a 21-42 record that still would be featured in national Sunday afternoon game?

Answer: The Lakers. Of course.

Yep, Mike Tirico and Hubie Brown were on hand yesterday for the Oklahoma City-Lakers game Sunday on ABC. Now Kevin Durant always is a good TV draw, and there’s still something special about being in LA. Memories of Magic, West, Kobe, etc…

However, while the Lakers put on a good show in pulling off an unlikely victory Sunday, their 48-point loss to the Clippers last week said more about the state of the league’s long-time marquee franchise. The Lakers surely are fading from view, and could be irrelevant for an extended stretch if Kobe Bryant can’t mount a comeback.

That’s not a good thing for the networks. The Lakers have been ratings gold for a … Continue Reading

Rose out again: ABC, TNT, ESPN, NBA TV will feel pain with several Bulls games scheduled for national TV

It’s a dark and bleak day in Chicago. And I’m not talking about the dreary weather outside.

The news that Derrick Rose suffered another knee injury requiring surgery has the city in a collective funk. Everyone is concerned that Rose will become the Chicago basketball version of Gale Sayers.

Scary parallel: Both players got injured in their fourth seasons. Sayers never was the same. Hopefully, that won’t be the case for Rose, but you never know.

Also feeling the pain today are the NBA’s national TV partners. They were counting on the return of the 2010-11 MVP to produce a big year for the Bulls.

The networks loaded up on the Bulls this season: ESPN 10 times, on TNT nine times, on NBA-TV nine times and on ABC five times.

Some of those games already have been played, but there’s … Continue Reading

New ESPN ad for NBA: Simmons gets first ride in RV; shares bed with Noah

Time to get ready for some basketball. Bill Simmons gets invited to ride in the ESPN RV for the first time.

Given Joakim Noah’s shaky health status, Bulls fans request that the center gets his own bed.

Here’s the rundown from ESPN.


This week, ESPN will return the popular ESPN NBA RV campaign for the seventh year, in celebration of the upcoming NBA season.

The 30-second spot features NBA analysts Jalen Rose and Mike Breen sleeping soundly in the RV while bunkmates Bill Simmons and Chicago Bulls’ star Joakim Noah deliver a frustrated monologue about their sleeping arrangements. Jeff Van Gundy, unlikely to get any sleep throughout the night, also appears in the ad.

Additional spots will launch throughout the season. The campaign was created in collaboration with creative agency Wieden + Kennedy New York.

ESPN’s NBA season tips … Continue Reading

Barkley in mid-season form: ‘LeBron should go back to Cleveland'; Jordan still ticked off at him

Who needs training camp? Charles Barkley’s mouth always is ready to go.

Barkley sounded off to Chris Myers in the latest edition of Fox Sports 1on 1 interview show (tonight, 8 p.m. ET).

Here are some soundbites:

On Lebron James as a free agent after this year: “I hope he goes back to Cleveland with some real fans.  Those fans in Miami are faker than a three-dollar bill.”

On his current relationship with Michael Jordan: “I love Michael. He’s been one of my best friends forever and I hope we can work through it.  Our relationship is estranged because I said some things about him as a General Manager the last couple years.  I can’t get on television and say he’s done a good job as a GM.  One of the things people respect about me whether they like it … Continue Reading

Simmons to SI.com: Deadspin sources are ‘liars'; troubled that they likely came from ESPN

Will be interesting to see if Deadspin picks up on Richard Deitsch’s interview with Bill Simmons at SI.com today.

Simmons strongly denied a John Koblin story last week that he was responsible for Magic Johnson leaving NBA Countdown.

Simmons told Deitsch:

Those unnamed “sources” are liars. Someone planted a fake story to try to make me look bad, and there’s a 99.3 percent chance it came from someone in Bristol (which presents its own set of concerns). I was upset; I can’t lie. Maybe this happens to people more often than I realize, and maybe it comes with the territory, but man … I can’t properly explain how fantastic it was to watch basketball with Magic for nine months.

Later he told Deitsch:

Anyway, that’s why the “report” upset me so much — it wasn’t just that someone made it

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Update: Simmons on Magic: “GREAT GUY”; denies Deadspin story about Johnson departure from Countdown

Update: Bill Simmons, through ESPN, issued this statement:

“I loved getting to know Magic these past 12 months and was saddened to hear about his decision. We genuinely liked working with one another. Last night Lon Rosen and I were already talking about other possible projects that Magic and I could do together down the road. He’s my friend. And a GREAT guy.”

From Lon Rosen, Johnson’s agent.

“Magic and Bill Simmons got to be very close and continue to be close.  Bill Simmons and Earvin Johnson are friends. Earvin’s close to Bill. We called Bill before the release went out. Bill has been to parties at Earvin’s house. He’s been to Dodgers game with Bill. He likes Bill a lot.”


Bill Simmons issued a tweet, refuting a Deadspin story that he is responsible for Magic Johnson’s departure from … Continue Reading