Ah, the joys of live television amid a locker-room championship celebration. There's nothing quite like it.
There were some magical moments, some Michael moments, and some embarrassing moments as NBC went into the Chicago Bulls' locker room Wednesday night, and then Channel 4 followed with its own post-postgame show.
Bob Costas was the first to find himself in a few jams.
Interviewing Coach Phil Jackson while surrounded by Bulls, the diminutive announcer correctly noted: "I'm sure you can't see me, but maybe you can see the top of Phil's head."
Costas' most awkward moment occurred when he said Michael Jordan was sitting with his mom and dad. Turns out it was Jordan's dad and wife , who was partially hidden under a cap.
"Sorry," Costas said, "the champagne in my eyes has blurred my vision."
Costas, however, came back with a good question, asking Jordan why he turned down one of those "I'm going to Disneyland" commercial gigs.
Jordan said he wanted the whole team involved.
Then there was the performance of Channel 4 bulldog Phil Shuman, who handled the tough locker-room assignment while Fred Roggin sat comfortably in his color-coordinated suit off in a separate room.
By the way, why was sportscaster Brett Lewis, who just signed a contract extension, on vacation during NBC's NBA finals?
But then Shuman always seems to be the one Channel 4 puts in the most difficult situations, whether it's a snowstorm on the ridge route, a post-Academy Awards party or a locker room mob scene.
He had his most embarrassing moment Wednesday night while he was interviewing the Bulls' Craig Hodges.
"You're from a farm in Indiana, and now you've been in L.A. almost a week," Shuman said. "What do you think of it here in L.A.?"
Hodges politely pointed out that he went to Cal State Long Beach.
"This is sort of a homecoming for me," Hodges said.
Shuman also said to Hodges, "Did you think this series would be this easy?"
Easy? Said Hodges: "I don't think it was easy at all."
Later, when Horace Grant brushed him off, saying, "I have to go over here to talk to someone," Shuman snidely responded, "Probably only his wife or mother."
Among Roggin's Laker guests was rookie Elden Campbell, who sort of slam-dunked his interviewer.
Campbell: "For what?"
Roggin: "For playing a great game."
Campbell said he would rather have won the game. Good point.
Mychal Thompson, another of Roggin's guests, said this was probably his final game.
And he too made a good point, saying, "The fans and NBC got their money's worth."
Financially, NBC essentially broke even on the five-game series. The network would have lost money on a four-game series, and would have made about $8 million on any games beyond five.
Dick Ebersol, NBC Sports president, wasn't complaining, though.
"We had some great games," he said.
Announcer Marv Albert, though, said: "I really wanted at least one more game."
Even though it was only a five-game series, the overall national Nielsen average was a 15.8, second-best ever. The 1987 series between the Lakers and Boston was the only NBA championship series to do better, getting a 15.9.
But this series set a record for average number of viewers, with 43.6 million watching each game.
In Los Angeles, Game 5 got a 33.2 rating and a 50% share of the audience. The numbers in Chicago were 57.1 and 77.
Do you think CBS misses the NBA? Its golf last Sunday got a 3.0.
Then there was the World Bowl on ABC. It got a 2.1.
Overall, NBC's coverage of its first NBA finals deserves, well, a B.
The overhead shot is fine for replays. The one Wednesday night showing Magic Johnson weaving his way downcourt through traffic was superb.
But the overhead shot should be scrapped during live action.
Also, there was too much bouncing around among cameras, and, although there was plenty of good information shown graphically, the score and time remaining weren't shown enough.
Journalistically, NBC touched most of the bases. And although sideline reporters are usually more intrusive than anything else, Ahmad Rashad and Steve Jones generally offered solid information.
Also, Costas' opening Wednesday night on the Bulls' history was excellent, and announcers Albert and Mike Fratello worked well together.
NBC, to its credit, didn't overdo the celebrity shots. Even missed a few.
One was heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, who was sitting behind the Laker bench Wednesday night next to Nancy Caldwell, assistant to Prime Ticket President John Severino, who got Holyfield his ticket.
One of the first people to shake Phil Jackson's hand--and hug him--was Laker fan Jack Nicholson, and NBC caught it on camera.
Did you catch Dyan Cannon rushing up to give Albert a birthday kiss? (It was his 48th).
"I thought it was a crazed fan," Albert said later, "and it was."
Albert suspects Fratello was behind it.
Albert might have gotten off his best line of the series when NBC had to endure a five-minute power-outage during Game 3 last Friday.
"Mike, you had some of your best observations during the blackout," he said.
Costas' best line might have been the one he came up with when he and Chick Hearn were guests on ESPN's "Baseball Tonight" show Monday night.
"It's true, baseball remains my first love," he said. "I beat Pat Riley in a shootout, but how would I fare in a home run derby against Jose Canseco? You figure out which is the tougher game."
NBC missed the shot of the night Wednesday. During a break in the third quarter, a fan threw in a shot from half-court to win $57,000. . . . But NBC did have the second-best shot of the night, Michael Jordan throwing one over his shoulder from far out and banking it in. The shot didn't count, though, since a foul had been called.
The Clippers are switching TV stations next season, going from Channel 5 to Channel 13, and Mike Fratello says he hopes to be back as the commentator. . . . Chick Hearn will be honored as journalist of the year at the Cedar-Sinai Sports Spectacular Dinner Sunday, June 23, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Details: (213) 855-3664.
Here's some good news for Todd Donoho fans. Channel 7 has extended his contract. . . . Channel 11's Rick Garcia reportedly also has a new deal. . . . Meanwhile, Channel 5's popular Ed Arnold, whose contract is up at the end of the month, remains unsigned. "I don't know if I'll re-sign or not," said Arnold, who is upset with some new station policies, such as listing scores with the visiting team, not necessarily the winner, on top. "Some things were put into effect without ever consulting me," Arnold said. "They changed the way we do the scores after getting one letter." . . . In a surprise move, KMPC has named former Bruin quarterback David Norrie as its UCLA commentator.
Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent, in responding to an implied threat by the New York Yankees' Steve Howe to throw at hitters who harass him about his past, told Ken Brett on SportsChannel, 'If he takes the law in his own hands, that would be a serious mistake." . . . ESPN's U.S. Open coverage today begins at 8 a.m. and again at 2 p.m. ABC's weekend coverage begins at 10:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.