I had an opportunity to talk with ESPN basketball analyst Jeff Van Gundy for a Q&A in The Oklahoman on Friday. Here are a few more questions for Van Gundy, one of my favorite NBA analysts.
Have you enjoyed your broadcasting career?
I do enjoy it. You don’t have the highs or lows of coaching. It’s more in a right-in-the-middle lifestyle. There are certains aspects of coaching that I miss. But I learned awhile ago, not to worry about what’s next. I just worry about what I’m doing now. And I’m having a good time with it and I really like the guys I’m working with. If your doiong a secondary type of career, it’s absolutely essential that you enjoy working with those people because you’re not that comfortable doing something totally different and so you really have to like and enjoy the people around you.
Were you disappointed you didn’t win the Sports Emmy for game analyst?
Frankly, I didn’t even know they did that for sports. Something asked if I was disappointed to lose. I said, Heck, I was surprised to even be nominated. I just try to say what I see. When I came into it, people said, Are you worried about it impacting your next coaching job. My thing was I’m not about what is next. If somebody would not hire me because of an opinion I had on the TV, then it probably wouldn’t work out anyway. I’m the beneficiary of the guys around me because Mike and Mark do such a good job of withstanding my bouts of crazyiness.
Who is your pick to reach the NBA Finals?
Cleveland in the East. I think L.A. deserves my pick, but if you told me that San Antonio was able to advance then and play them, and they eventually beat in L.A. in a tough series, I wouldn’t be shocked. I think a lot of it depends on the health of Bryant, beause if he is healthy, I think their size plus Bryant makes them a very difficult team to beat in the Western Concerence. And I think Cleveland has upgraded their challenge from last year. Yes, I think it’s going to be Cleveland’s year, but there are some very good playoff matchups.
Fox Sports analyst Jimmy Johnson, a former Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins coach, evaluated some of the top quarterbacks in the upcoming draft. Here are some excerpts:
On Sam Bradford: “He is a big, physical, good looking player that can move. He is the prototype quarterback. You have to be a little concerned about the shoulder injury and if it is going to happen again but he has the intelligence that I like. You want him to lead your franchise. That’s why if the Rams look at him and think ‘he’s our guy and we believe in him,’ then you don’t even listen to another offer, you just get him signed. He’s a guy who will be able to fit into your offense style right off the bat.”
On Jimmy Clausen: “He is an accurate passer and has a good touch on the deep ball. I like him. I just don’t know that he has the physical ability of Sam Bradford but if you need a quarterback he is probably one of the two guys who can come in and play for you now.”
On Tim Tebow: “He’s still a work in progress. It is going to be difficult for him to jump in and perform without sitting, watching and practicing. He is a talent but has to go to the right team that uses him the right way. Tebow’s development is going to be a two or three-year project. A team could use him in other areas before he becomes a starting quarterback but you first have to consider your current quarterback. Is he going to be comfortable going to the sideline while you develop Tebow? There are a lot of teams where that is not going to happen. I would take a chance on him in the second round. His intangibles are off the charts and if I am in the middle of the second round and he fits our style of play, I think he is worth the pick.”
Former OU quarterback Sam Bradford made the rounds of the national sports talk shows Monday, appearing on “Mike and Mike in the Morning” on ESPN Radio and ESPN2 and the nationally syndicated “The Dan Patrick Show,” which also airs on DirecTV’s 101 network:
Here are excerpts of Bradford’s interview with Patrick:
On whether or not he wants the Rams to pick him: “I’m just looking forward to the opportunity to play in the NFL, whether it’s the Rams or another team. “No one’s ever called me or my agent and said, ‘Hey, let’s talk contract.’”
On having to be extra careful in public these days: “You’ve got to be careful with cell phones in this day and age with cameras. You have to surround yourself with good people to limit the bad things that can happen to you.”
On the prospect of sitting for a while at start of NFL career: “I’ve been sitting a lot lately. I understand if I have to sit, but I’ll do everything I can to get on the field.”
Got to give Dallas sports anchor Dale Hansen credit for publicly blasting his station’s decision to run a barroom video of an apparently tipsy Cowboys owner Jerry Jones making disparaging comments about former Cowboys coach Bill Parcell and Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.
The grainy video of Jones, taped without his knowledge and originated on deadspin.com, does not pass the test of news, deserving of air time on a Dallas TV station’s newscasts. Not even close.
Unfortunately, numerous media outlets also carried the video, including ESPN, the alleged Worldwide Leader in Sports.
Hansen, who has been with the station 27 years and must feel secure in his job status, blasted WFAA news director Michael Valentine’s decision to air the video with Jones’ sometimes profane comments Tuesday in a commentary during the station’s 10 p.m. newscast.
“Yet another example of the decline of journalism as we once knew it,” Hansen told viewers. “Our business now, too many times, is a fat kid in a t-shirt in his mother’s basement eating Cheetos and writing his blogs. And we make it news. Jerry Jones in a bar being Jerry Jones is not news to me. And the fact that some creep slides up to Jones, records the conversation without Jones knowing, then tries to sell that recording and that becomes news is an embarrassment to us all.”
Hansen said he discussed the ethics of airing the Jones video with WFAA’s news director and assistant news director. “I said I wouldn’t do the story,” he said. “They decided to do it anyway, saying it wasn’t an easy choice, but a choice they had to make. Their position was Jones is a public figure and the story is already out there so we had to do it, too. That’s the standard now.”
Former Dallas Morning News TV credit Ed Bark discusses the incident in his blog:
In a TNT conference call Tuesday to preview the NBA playoffs, Charles Barkley cited the Oklahoma City Thunder’s porous defense as one reason why the Thunder will lose to the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
TNT will broadcast about 45 playoff games in 40 days.
“They have a bright future, but they are not going to win right now,” Barkley said of the Thunder. “They are a little young, their defense has been getting worse the last two or three weeks. I always say my biggest regret in my career is that I wasn’t a great defender. There are two stats I always look at, defense and rebounding. That’s the only way you’re going to win a championship, really good defense and rebounding the ball. Oklahoma City, the last 10 games, their points have really been going up. A couple of games they’ve given up about 120 points and if you’re giving up 115 or 120 points consistently, you’re not going to beat one of the elite teams in the playoffs.”
Other comments from Barkley: (Coach) Scott Brooks has done a terrific job, (Kevin) Durant is one of the 10 best players in the world, I love the point guard (Russell) Westbrook, I love Jeff Green, (Serge) Ibaka is terrific. They have a really bright future. I had Scott Brooks as ‘Coach of the Year’ all year, then I leaned toward (Phoenix’s) Alvin Gentry and I finally settled on (Milwaukee’s) Scott Skiles. Oklahoma City has done a great job and they’ve done it the right way. They’ve done it through the draft. They got three guys who are going to be All-Stars.”
Other comments from the conference call:
Analyst Kevin McHale on the positive experience the playoffs will be for the Thunder: “You’ve got to get a few scabs on your knees a few times in this league. If you really want to run fast you’ve got to fall down a few times. For Oklahoma City, they are going to maybe fall down and get a few scabs, but they are really going to remember that. They’ll remember that loss and these playoffs will be a great time for them. Kevin Durant is really going to find out what the playoffs are all about and they need to because they are going to be in the playoffs for a long time.”
Analyst Doug Collins on the many questions marks in the Western Conference, including the Lakers: “In the West, yes, the Lakers appear to be the team to beat, but they’ve got a lot of question marks right now. You’ve got to be concerned about Kobe Bryant right now with his finger injury and, more importantly, it sounds to me like he’s having some problems with that leg getting lift on his jump shot. He’s not shot the ball well in the last three games. Andrew Bynum coming back, is this going to be similar to last year with him not being a factor in the playoffs? If he doesn’t play and play well than Lamar Odom has got to start and it hurts the Lakers’ bench. That’s been very up and down all year, they’ve not been able to get any great production. And you’ve got to be concerned about when they play against fast point guards if Derek Fisher can contain them with all the pick-and-rolls you’re going to see because the Lakers don’t defend the screen-roll very well. Everyone had Denver ticketed to being the Lakers’ biggest challenge in the West because of the way they’ve played, but you’ve had Kenyon Martin hurt, the loss of George Karl and what he has meant to that team. There are so many question marks going in.”
Barkley on Bryant needing to adjust his game when he is injured: “(Kobe Bryant) is really banged up. (The Lakers) have really been going through the motions the whole season. Kobe uses so much energy every single night. He’s going to have to tweak his game at some point and say, ‘I’m making this move and I’m not trying to score. I’m trying to pass it to Andrew (Bynum), I’m trying to pass it to Pau (Gasol).’ You have to learn as you get older that you can’t waste all your energy. Scoring 25 or 30 points a night, it takes a toll on you. He’s still using so much energy every night and as you get older, you don’t get healthy, you just get older. (His finger injury) doesn’t hurt his FGA’s (field goal attempts). He hasn’t stopped shooting. If his finger is hurt and you’re not making shots, make a move with (different) intent. If his finger is hurt, he can become more of a set-up man because every defense is geared towards him offensively. He’s going to have to change his game a little.”
Golf needs all the help it can get to be exciting on television, so televising this year’s Masters tournament in 3-D is a welcome addition. Augusta National will have numerous 3-D cameras placed strategically throughout the course, primarily on the back nine. Sony Electronics and Comcast are combining in the production effort.
However, the first national sporting event ever broadcast in 3-D will have a miniscule audience because only a few viewers have sets with 3-D capability.
For those who do, Cox will be the exclusive provider of the 3-D telecasts in Oklahoma. Beginning Wednesday, two hours a day of Masters’ 3-D programming will be available at no additional cost to Cox Advanced TV customers with an HD or HD/DVR receiver on channel 710. Customers also can access Masters content via the On Demand library on Channel 1.
For those who don’t have 3-D sets, Cox also will have demonstrations at its Edmond store, 3313 S Broadway, and Norman store, 1278 N Interstate Drive.
On Tuesday, I got a chance to preview the 3-D technology at the Cox store in Edmond. I was amazed at the effect, especially items that appeared to float in front of my face. Because the demonstration consisted of musical acts, I’m not sure how it will work with golf. I would expect the Augusta National terrain changes, especially the sloping greens, would be magnified and a bunker shot would be amazing.
As with any new technology, it will be a pricy endeavor at first. The required “active shutter” glasses alone cost $140 and the TV sets are $400 to $500 more than a regular HD set.
At least, if you’re like me looking to purchase an HD set, you might consider purchasing one that has 3-D capability. In the future, more and more sporting events will be getting in on the new technology.
As the MLB season gets under way, here are some of the broadcaster movements over the offseason:
TBS has dropped Chip Caray, who was criticized for making factual mistakes during playoff broadcasts, as its primary play-by-play announcer. Ernie Johnson, Dick Stockton and Brian Anderson will split the duties for the Sunday afternoon games.
Orel Hershiser has joined ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball,” replacing Steve Phillips, who left the network following his affair with an ESPN production assistant. A former Cy Young award winner, Hershiser will provide a pitcher’s perspective to the broadcasts.
Newcomers to ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight” studio show include Nomar Garciaparra, Doug Glanville, J.P. Ricciardi and Aaron Boone. Boone also will be a game analyst on Monday night broadcasts, and Garciaparra will work select Wednesday night broadcasts.
Victor Rojas has left his job as MLB Network studio host to become a play-by-play voice of the Los Angeles Angels.
Veteran CBS sportscaster Dick Enberg has been hired as a TV play-by-play announcer for his hometown team, the San Diego Padres.
— CBS college basketball analyst Clark Kellogg and “EARLY SHOW co-anchor Harry Smith took on President Barack Obama in a game of P-O-T-U-S on the basketball court at the White House and Kellogg also interviewed Obama as part of CBS’ Final Four coverage, which begins at 3 p.m. Saturday. Find out who wins the game during halftime of the Butler-Michigan State game.
— Play-by-play announcer Dave O’Brien will be calling his first Women’s Final Four Sunday for ESPN with analyst Doris Burke, who has done five Final Fours. Shelley Smith and Rebecca Lobo will serve as reporters. Baylor alumnus Trey Wingo, Kara Lawson and Carolyn Peck will be on set at the Alamodome for ESPN’s studio coverage. All three games at the Final Four will be presented in high definition, and live on ESPN3.com.
— ESPN360.com, ESPN’s 24/7 broadband sports network, will officially become ESPN3.com on Sunday. Visitors to the network will notice an enhanced viewing experience with improved video quality via Adobe’s Flash Player 10. Visitors will also be able to interact with live event programming on the network through a variety of new features and functionality.
— ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,” 8 a.m. Sunday, looks at Tiger Woods’ sex therapy and whether it has affected his golf game. Bob Rotella, sports psychologist, says, “The question everyone wants to ask is, ‘Will Tiger be able to play great with this off-the-course mess going on in his life?’ Well, my guess is yes, he will be able to if he wants to. But the only question you could ask is, ‘Is Tiger ready to really get himself back in contention? Is that his sole purpose in playing the Masters?’”
— Two Dallas Cowboys preseason games will be nationally televised. The Cowboys will face Cincinnati in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game at 7 p.m. Aug. 8 on NBC and play at Houston at 7 p.m. Aug. 28 on CBS.
— ABC launches a new “ESPN Sports Saturday” block at 3 p.m. Saturday with “Guru of Go,” an ESPN Films “30 for 30” documentary about the Loyola Marymount men’s basketball team and the death of its star player Hank Gathers. At 4 p.m., ESPN’s Michele Beadle and Marcellus Wiley will co-host “Winners Bracket,” a new one-hour highlight-driven show.