Tuesday morning after the Hornets were eliminated from the playoffs with their 91-82 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in Game 7, I got ahold of the team’s radio analyst, the always colorful Gerry Vaillancourt, to get his thoughts on the Hornets’ demise.
Vaillancourt, who has been on the Hornets’ broadcast team for 19 years, has fond memories of Oklahoma City and sounded like he might consider an offer from Sonics’ management to return here in the same capacity. His wife, Tracy, is an Oklahoma State alumnus. Her first husband, Tommy Moore, was a three-time golf All-American at OSU, who died in 1998, from a rare blood disease.
Vaillancourt, who had an evening talk show on KTOK-AM 1000, has an 8-11 a.m. Saturday show on KRNO-FM 99.7 in New Orleans. He also has an entertaining blog on the station’s Web site, www.thenew995fm.com/pages/gerryv.html.
What factors led to the Hornets loss?
San Antonio determed the pace of the game. Their ball movement and their ability to make big shots was the kill-zone right there. The Hornets did a nice job defensively, especially in the second and third quarters, but when I went back and looked back at my game charts, you make 4-5-6 stops in a row, but then on the return on the offensive end, you went 4-5-6 in a row and couldn’t score. Then the shocking stat, you missed 10 layups, right at the front of the rim and some free throws. They made some big shots, you win the paint, you win the fast break, you win the second-chance point games, but they delivered killer clutch shots down the stretch. We came back from 17 and cut it to 3. They can’t do it.
Does that come from the Spurs having more experience?
No, it’s the fact you couldn’t make shots. Other factors play in. Your bench did not perform well. Peja was locked down defensively. Mo Pete wasn’t as consistent jump-shooting the ball, so there are some areas they will address in the offseason.
What changes should the Hornets make in the offseason?
You got to enhance the bench, scoring. You have Julian Wright, who’ll be a factor next year. Do you want to get a little longer, a little more athletic coming off the bench? Do you want to address another front-line player? Do you want to address another perimeter player who can get his own shot? There are two things: making a shot, but the big question is can you get your own shot, that is the separater right there. I think they want to look in the can-you-get-your-own shot category.
After a slow start, I see the Hornets fans adopted the team late in the season.
It’s bedlam, bedlam. Season ticket sales, the last I heard there are only a 100 seats left in the lower bowl in the arena. The ticket sales have been off the chart and the enthusiam around the city — you see the flags on the front lawns and in the windows and the merchandise blowing off the shelf. In fact, the Chris Paul jersey in the New York NBA stores is top 3. So all of that has emerged. So when you consider, it used to be tanks in the streets, choppers in the sky with Katrina, and now, you see sports fans coming out — that further legimitzes that sports is one of the healthiest distractions that you can have.
Do you think the Sonics will end up in Oklahoma City next season?
I don’t know if it’ll be next season. I think it might get tied up in some legalese stuff. They’ll battle that thing through the end. I think eventually you’ll see the Ford
What are your memories of Oklahoma City?
It was such a great two years, speaking personally for me. I made a lot of friends. I had an advantage of over others because I was on the air every day, getting to talk to the community. As I said before, if Oklahoma City could accept what I was all about on the air, hell, they’ll accept anybody. Ha. Ha. Ha. I had a lot of good memories. I’ll miss my Red Robin burgers and some of my local places I’d venture too.
Who do you like in the conference finals?
I’m going to give a slight edge to the Lakers. I love the way the Spurs play and Popovich coaches, but I’m going to go slight edge Lakers because Gasol has emerged, Kobe, Lamar Odom is coming around. And if there bench can straighten out some things. Lakers in 7. I’m going to stay with Detroit. Boston is showing me some things that they are not doing. They struggle. I don’t think they plan on playing 14 games.
Would you consider moving back here to broadcasts the Sonics’ games?
You make me an offer? Well you never know. My wife went to Oklahoma State. And her ex-husband, Tommy Moore, he passed away, he was an All-American three years at Oklahoma State. I just developed a lot of fond friendships up there with people. I had that advantage because of that radio thing. I had an absolute blast at KTOK, but I couldn’t be there every day. I could understand that change there. I loved it there. It’s nice to be home, but I didn’t leave Oklahoma City with the thought of “Thank God, we’re out of here”’ I left it with the thought “You know, I’m going going to miss a lot of people here.” How bout the Gerry V Show, Oklahoma City? Who else is going to talk NBA? Start a petition to bring the V man back.
Former Oklahoma City sportscaster Bill Simonson is way off base again, this time questioning the patriotism and commitment of Army strong safety Caleb Campbell, who was drafted in the seventh round by the Detroit Lions.
Simonson’s low-class sports talk show now resides in Michigan, where he has a statewide network. His national show on Sunday night is carried in Oklahoma by the Sports Animal Radio Network from 5 to 7 p.m.
Writing in his “HUGE BLOG” on www.mlive.com, Simonson, nicknamed “Captain Huge,” implies Campbell lacks character because he’s trying to play in the NFL when, if he was a real man, he would be off fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan. He doesn’t mention that he still will be serving as an Army recruiter while playing for the Lions.
Simonson writes, “If Campbell was a leader and a man of the highest character, wouldn’t he turn down the Lions and honor his duty to this country?
“Even before the Lions picked him, the Army had stooped to using him in uniform as a military mascot during the NFL draft.
“Is this duty, honor, country?”
Jim Carty, a columnist for the
Tired of Simonson’s third-rate show, Carty said he no longer will appear on “The Huge Show.” He also he has taken Simonson to task for his attack on Campbell. Here’s an excerpt from Carty’s blog at www.mlive.com:
Campbell has put football ahead of country, Simonson writes.Seriously. He wrote that. He wrote it despite the fact Campbell is still in the Army, still has a multi-year obligation to our country, and could very well still find himself serving in combat at some point if pro football doesn’t work out. Fighting, ironically enough, for freedoms including Bill Simonson’s right to make an idiot of himself pretty much on a daily basis, even if it means taking shots at an innocent kid trying to live an American dream. What a country, huh?
The problem here, though, is that there’s a real person behind the name Caleb Campbell, a kid who passed up the easy and fun college life to make a commitment to our country. Anyone who gets through West Point or one of the service academies has achieved something that sets them apart. To do it while playing football is nothing less than an inspiration.To do it well enough to be considered an NFL or NBA prospect is almost unheard of.
The Navy excused David Robinson from three of the five years of his active military commitment. Was that putting basketball ahead of country? Of course not, and Robinson’s commitment to this country was never questioned. Neither should Campbell’s. Not for a minute. Not by anyone, let alone a guy doing it just to get people to notice a third-rate local radio show.”