Sunday, September 4, 2011

ESPN/ABC announcers critical of Lakers' Game 4 meltdown

Sunday, September 4, 2011

ABC's Magic Johnson, as a TV analyst, is consistently upbeat — and historically sunny about the Los Angeles Lakers.

Not Sunday. "I can't believe it," said Johnson, who had a Lakers ownership stake until he sold it last year, as the Lakers trailed Dallas by 24 at halftime Sunday on their way to being swept in the seven-game series. "This is the worst I've ever seen the Lakers play in a game they need. … It's like they're already on vacation and didn't want to play today."

Said ABC's Jon Barry, alongside Johnson: "There is something going on in that locker room. … It's an absolute joke."

Things got worse for the NBA, which lost one of its top TV draws with the Lakers' disappearing act, and for ESPN/ABC, now left with less-than-mediagenic teams for its Western Conference coverage. (TNT has the East, as TNT and ESPN/ABC each year swap conferences they cover.)

Later, when Laker Andrew Bynum decked Maverick J.J. Barea and was ejected from the game, ABC announcer Mike Tirico called it "one of the biggest bush league things I've ever seen. That's disgusting" — adding the general Lakers late-game meltdown was "an embarrassment." Said game analyst Hubie Brown: "Amen to that. And I don't understand why it's happening."

Maybe TNT's Charles Barkley, who adamantly predicted Dallas would beat the Lakers, will be able to explain it. And this could also be on tap: NBA playoff TV ratings, on a roll all season, might have just hit a big speed bump.

Feherty gets show

The Golf Channel will announce Monday that CBS golf reporter David Feherty will get his own weekly prime-time show — cleverly dubbed Feherty— and says he's "nervous for the first time in television. It's a departure for me."

He says the show, which will include interviews with people outside the pro golf world although Golf Channel would rather he not yet name names, will be "so different from what people are used to seeing. I can't tell you I'm not jumpy about it. … And maybe because my life has been such a monumental (screw-up), I can ask them the probing questions about what they might have screwed up."

As part of his new Golf Channel deal, Feherty will be involved it channel's peripheral programming around tournaments. And for his prime-time show, Feherty says he's interested looking at "the periphery" of events, like the hardy volunteers at tournaments "who still hold up 'quiet' signs to beer and mustard-stained idiots — who ignore them — wearing outfits guaranteeing they'll never (have sex) again. And they actually bought those clothes."

Feherty can no longer play golf because of bicycling injuries — he's been hit by trucks and also crashed after being distracted (separately) by animals such as a cat, squirrel and bear — and says he now has a ripped tendon behind his knee from an animal-related injury — "I was demonstrating a leg kick my beagle makes." But he doesn't want to stop legging fairways as a TV reporter: "I'm an outside pet. … I'd feel cooped up in a closed environment."

Spice rack

Fox's NASCAR coverage Saturday night included the kind of friction between drivers — including radio chatter that allowed viewers to eavesdrop — that might boost the sport's TV ratings. Most notable was a post-race run-in between Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, in which Harvick left his car to confront Busch in his — which bumped Harvick's car into a wall. Fox's Darrell Waltrip, with the kind of call you might not hear outside NASCAR: "Dadgum car just took off. Holy Smoly!" And watch for varmints! …NBC's lavish Kentucky Derby coverage Saturday pretty much tested the outer limits of trying to attract viewers who wouldn't otherwise watch racing — especially in showing The Village People sing their pick — Mucho Macho Man. Kudos to NBC's Mike Battaglia, who's made the morning line for the Kentucky Derby for decades, correctly picking Animal Kingdom. Might have helped NBC if he'd sung it. … Before Manny Pacquiao beat Shane Mosley on Showtime's pay-per-view fight Saturday night, his chief rival Floyd Mayweather Jr. (and HBO fighter) didn't exactly help the hype in this tweet: "Everyone watch Lady Gaga tonight on the best network in the world, HBO." … CBS golf producer Lance Barrow, on Golf Channel, recalled late TV golf pioneer Frank Chirkinian: "The thing that made Frank so great and what he would hammer into me (was), 'Don't be a mechanic.' Which means, try something different." Hear, hear. … HBO spokesman Ray Stallone on Sunday about recent online buzz that HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg will be fired: "There's no truth to that rumor." … As announcer Gus Johnson says reports he will exit CBS are "premature" and he talks to Fox about working there, CBS and Fox Sunday declined comment.

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