Scott Is Latest Coaching Find
Mike Pearl, the executive producer of ABC Sports, apparently looks at the daily NBA transactions a little differently than most people. He’s looking for potential hires.
For example, when former New York Knick coach Jeff Van Gundy became available, Pearl, then at TNT, hired him. After Doc Rivers was fired by the Orlando Magic earlier this season, Pearl hired him.
And ABC announced Thursday that Pearl had hired Byron Scott as a studio analyst.
Scott, fired Jan. 26 as coach of the New Jersey Nets, will begin his new job Sunday, joining John Saunders and Tom Tolbert on ABC’s NBA pregame show.
Saunders is filling in for regular host Mike Tirico, who this weekend is working the Nissan Open golf tournament at Riviera Country Club.
Scott said broadcasting is what he studied during his college days at Arizona State and something that had always interested him. He said he hoped to have a long relationship with ABC but added that at some point he might again get back into coaching.
So what about eventually coaching the Lakers, his former team? Scott’s name has been mentioned, his roots are in Los Angeles, and it’s known that he has a good relationship with Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and several other players.
“I have too much respect for Phil Jackson to comment about any coaching possibilities with the Lakers,” Scott said. “Right now, I’m excited about this job with ABC and I’m going to concentrate on that and not think about other possibilities. But it’s nice to know my name is being circulated.”
Michaels Is Back
ABC’s NBA game Sunday at 10 a.m. is Cleveland at New York, and Al Michaels will be courtside with Rivers. It will be the second game Michaels has announced for ABC. The first was Houston at the Lakers on Christmas Day.
ABC has the Nets and Lakers on March 7, which is the next Sunday it televises the NBA. That matchup should provide some fodder for Scott.
Golf a Target Too
Pearl has not only been busy trying to beef up ABC’s NBA coverage. He’s also seeking improved golf coverage.
Not that ABC’s golf coverage was bad. Pearl just thought ABC could use a little re-energizing.
Besides hiring Hal Sutton to work as a commentator when available, Pearl also named Mark Loomis as lead golf producer before the start of the season. The Nissan is the third tournament Loomis will produce.
Loomis, a college golfer at Vanderbilt, started out at ABC as a runner on golf telecasts produced by Terry Jastrow, regarded as one of the best. So Loomis had good training.
The last seven years he has been producing Pacific 10 Conference football telecasts, mostly with Keith Jackson.
Pearl gave Loomis the golf assignment and told him changes were in order.
“The good thing about Mike is, he doesn’t say, ‘Do this, this and this,’ ” Loomis said. “He trusts you to do things on your own.”
Loomis said the changes are subtle and gradual, such as more live golf shots and a more set formula for which announcers handle which holes. Tirico and Curtis Strange will announce the even-numbered holes, Ian Baker-Finch and Peter Allis the odd-numbered holes.
Noting what Gary McCord and David Feherty have done for golf at CBS, Loomis said he wouldn’t mind seeing a little more humor from his crew.
“If you’re sitting at home, relaxing and watching a golf tournament, it’s nice to enjoy a good laugh every once in a while,” he said.
ESPN and Cox Communications, which have been verbally sparring for months over the $2-per-month cost of ESPN to subscribers, announced that they have renewed a carriage agreement.
So Cox’s threats of dropping ESPN never came to fruition.
“Fans will continue to enjoy ESPN and ESPN2 on expanded basic into the next decade,” ESPN President George Bodenheimer said.
The agreement also calls for Cox to carry ESPN’s other channels and also launch Spanish-language ESPN Deportes.
ESPN also announced a similar carriage agreement with Charter Communications.
Oh, My, the Memories
CBS will televise Saturday’s Stanford-UCLA game, with Dick Enberg and Matt Guokas announcing. Enberg was at Pauley Pavilion on Thursday, taping an interview with John Wooden for use around Final Four time.
“God has never made a perfect man, but he sure came close with Coach Wooden,” Enberg said. “Being with him at Pauley sure brings back a lot of fond memories. Doing UCLA basketball [in the early 1970s] was my entree into network television.”
NBC had a successful NASCAR opening at Daytona last weekend, getting a 10.4 national rating, which translates to 33.6 million viewers. Now Fox takes over for its portion of the NASCAR season with this weekend’s action at Rockingham, N.C.... Fox Sports Net announced it has hired Max Kellerman, formerly of ESPN, to serve as the host of a new daily half-hour show to launch in mid-April. Kellerman also will be involved in the cable network’s boxing coverage, which means the highly respected Rich Marotta is out, and that’s a shame.... ESPN takes self-promotion and reality television in a new direction as it searches for a sports anchor on a new series, “Dream Job.” The show makes its debut Sunday at 7 p.m.
NBC’s Arena Football League coverage is off to a successful start. NBC’s lead game Sunday is the Avengers’ home opener against San Jose. That means Tom Hammond and Pat Haden will be the announcers. Tommy Maddox will be a guest studio analyst.... USA continues with its “Black History Month” series on golfers with African American backgrounds. Tiger Woods is the focus of this weekend’s 9 a.m. “PGA Tour Sunday” show.
Joe McDonnell, out this week because of a knee problem, is expected back on KSPN (710) next week. Partner Doug Krikorian has filled in as the host, and for three days he was joined by Gary Miller, who did a nice job. Shelley Smith and Suzy Shuster joined Krikorian on Thursday and Shuster will be back today.... In case you’re wondering, Lee Hamilton of XTRA (690, 1150) has been on vacation this week.... XTRA launches a billboard campaign featuring Shaq next week. “My City, My Station, Just Listen,” he says on the billboard. That surely will go over big with McDonnell, who considers Shaq a friend.
Talk-show host Dave Smith of KMPC (1540), whose hand must get tired from patting himself on the back so much, is always complaining the newspaper guys never ask Shaq any tough questions. Yet Smith never goes to Laker practices or games to confront Shaq himself. It’s pretty easy to hide behind a microphone.