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Laker Day in L.A. Had Its Moments, Both High and Low

First, there was Celtic President Red Auerbach’s quote: “No, I don’t think the better team won.”

Then Laker broadcaster Chick Hearn came up with this reply during a Laker celebration at the Forum Tuesday: “Red Auerbach has been scrounging around the gutters of Boston looking for cigarette butts, but the Lakers kicked all their butts.”

Hearn later said: “I had thought about the cigarette butts part because of Auerbach’s victory cigars, but the rest just sort of popped into my mind.”

Hearn’s quote was one of the highlights of television’s coverage of Laker Day in Los Angeles Tuesday.

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A lowlight was Channel 9’s Scott St. James. Interviewing Claire Rothman, vice president and general manager of the Forum, St. James suggested: “I’ll bet you’re happier than a pig in slop.”

The one bright spot of Channel 9’s coverage was St. James’ interview with Chris Riley, the coach’s wife. She came across very well, which is more than can be said for St. James.

Add Laker Day: Channel 4 had the best and most complete coverage of the Downtown parade and ceremony at City Hall. Kudos to Stu Nahan and Fred Roggin for handling a tough assignment well.

Unfortunately, Channel 4 was lax in getting out the word that it was going to cover the parade and ceremony, so a lot of viewers tuned in Channel 9 instead, and got a lot of bumbling and incorrect identifications. Or they tuned to Channel 2 and got only a half-hour of coverage.

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Channel 7, the station that uses the slogan, “We Love L.A.,” apparently doesn’t love it much. It carried only about 30 seconds live.

Add Hearn: About the championship series, he said: “Kareem played the best he’s ever played during the 10 years he’s been with the Lakers. He was incredible. He and Magic led the team. Another factor was the lack of strength on the Celtic bench, which is something we talked about all year.”

Hearn has been the Laker announcer since 1961, during which time the team has won four NBA championships. “This one ranks No. 1 because the team is so exciting and because they won two out of three games in Boston,” he said.

Ratings game: The six games of the NBA championship series averaged a 13.5 national Nielsen rating, CBS announced Thursday. Last season, the average for seven games was 12.2.

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This season’s average rating would probably have been considerably higher had there been a seventh game. Last season, the seventh game drew a 19.3 rating, the highest ever.

Game 4 of this season’s series, the one the Celtics won on Dennis Johnson’s last-second shot, drew a 17.0, the second-highest rating ever.

Game 6 drew a 12.9 rating nationally, a 26.6 in Los Angeles and a 26.9 in Boston.

Recommended viewing: “Stroh’s Circle of Sports,” a two-hour show with actor Robert Conrad as host, will make its debut on the USA cable network Sunday at 6 p.m.

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Among those on Sunday’s program are O.J. Simpson, Michael Jordan, Vin Scully, Olga Korbut, Arnold Palmer, Bobby Orr and Donald Trump.

Elliot Gould does a piece on Madison Square Garden; San Diego Manager Dick Williams and Chicago Cub Manager Jim Frey are wearing microphones during games; Jack Kramer, Billie Jean King, Vic Braden and Curry Kirkpatrick take a look at the current state of tennis, and fans are given a chance to speak out on athletes and drugs.

The show is produced by Ohlmeyer Communications, with Don Ohlmeyer the executive producer and Howard Katz the producer.

Add Ohlmeyer: Ohlmeyer Communications was formed about two years ago, and the “Stroh’s Circle of Sports” is only one of a number of the production company’s current projects.

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For the last three months, the company has been putting together a recap of last summer’s Olympics, “Spirit of Excellence: The 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games,” a 16-day, 175-hour show that will be televised by ESPN from June 29 through July 14. The show will include original footage and original analysis by ESPN commentators.

Ohlmeyer Communications mainly produces sports shows and events, but the Emmy Award-winning drama, “Special Bulletin,” was also an Ohlmeyer production. The company, backed by Nabisco, is also involved in advertising and sports marketing, and has offices in New York, Los Angeles, Canada, England, Australia and France.

When Nabisco bought 20% of ESPN last October, Ohlmeyer and his partner, John Martin, a former vice president at ABC Sports, became members of the ESPN board of directors. Ohlmeyer was also named a consultant to ESPN.

Ohlmeyer first made a name for himself as the producer of ABC’s “Monday Night Football,” jazzing up the telecasts with graphics and clever use of instant replays. Then in 1978, the 40-year-old Notre Dame graduate went to NBC Sports, where he was the executive producer until leaving to form Ohlmeyer Communications.

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Notes ABC, which is covering all 36 holes of the final two rounds of the U.S. Open at the Oakland Hills Country Club in suburban Detroit, will be on the air from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. ESPN is offering coverage of today’s second round from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Also, there will be highlights on ABC tonight at 11:30. . . . NBC is offering a Dodger/Angel doubleheader Saturday. The Dodgers’ game at Houston will be televised at 10:15 a.m., with the Angels’ 1 p.m. game against the Chicago White Sox at Anaheim to follow. . . . The announcers for the Dodger game will be Bob Costas and Tony Kubek. Ken Harrelson, a White Sox announcer, and Joe Torre, an Angel announcer, will work the nightcap. Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola are assigned to a Detroit Tigers-New York Yankees game, which will not be shown in Los Angeles.

Larry Bird and Jack Nicklaus are interviewed by John Madden on a half-hour CBS special being televised Saturday at 4:30 p.m. on Channel 2. . . . Father’s Day specials: “Fathers, Sons and Daughters” will be shown by CBS at 1:30 p.m., followed at 2:30 by “CBS Sports Inside Out.” Brent Musburger is the host of the first show, which focuses on Bubba Smith and his father, Willie Ray Smith, who was his high school football coach in Beaumont, Tex.; ring announcers Jimmy Lennon and his son, Jimmy; the Dwight Evans family, and golfers Nancy Lopez Knight and George Archer and their family relationships. Jimmy Lennon Jr., besides being a ring announcer, also teaches English and drama at Baptist High School in West Los Angeles. . . . About “Sports Inside Out,” producer David Michaels said: “It’s children’s programming designed for the whole family.” Subjects include a rodeo for competitors 9-18, the Mission Viejo Swim Club, a boxing club in Detroit, and the controversy surrounding the safety of ATCs. . . . WTBS will provide live coverage of Tuesday’s NBA draft from 10:05 a.m. to 12:05 p.m. Georgetown Coach John Thompson will join regular WTBS sportscasters Bob Neal, Rick Barry and John Andariese on the telecast. There will also be a recap at 7:20 p.m. Tuesday with Bill Russell, Gary Miller and Charlie Criss.

Channel 5 is said to be very close to hiring Boston sportscaster Keith Oberman, whose shtick is an offbeat, comedic approach. Oberman, if hired, will work weeknights, and Steve Roah will go back to weekends, replacing Joe Buttitta. Geoff Witcher is also being considered for the job. . . . Channel 7’s Gene Washington will do the sports news on the weekends for a while, beginning June 29-30. Regular weekend sportscaster Ed Arnold is going on vacation, then moving to weeknights to fill in while Ted Dawson is on vacation. . . . KMPC’s Jim Healy reported that the Clippers may move from Channel 11 to Channel 5 next season, and Channel 5 sports director Hec Highton confirmed that his station is very close to a 20-game deal with the Clippers. . . . Cal State Fullerton football will be televised live on Channel 56 this fall. . . . New York sportscaster Warner Wolf of WCBS has been missing from the “CBS Morning News” for several weeks now. He used to have a spot every Friday, but according to a WCBS spokesman, gave it up because of the grind. “He had to do the 11 o’clock news and then be up early Friday mornings to do ‘Morning News.’ ” the spokesman said. L.A. sportscasters must be a little tougher. Dawson does the 11 o’clock news for Channel 7 every night, then does a morning show for radio station KLOS-fm. Until recently Channel 9’s Scott St. James was also doing a morning show for KMGG-fm.


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