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Kings' Fans Might Howl if Miller Goes to Coyotes

June 21, 1996|LARRY STEWART

The Kings without Bob Miller? Hard to imagine, but it could happen.

With his five-year contract expiring at the end of the month, Miller, who has been with the Kings for 23 seasons, may end up as the television voice of the Phoenix Coyotes.

The Coyotes? They're the Winnipeg Jets, who are moving to Phoenix.

There are two things that make a job with the Coyotes appealing to Miller:

--Their games will be carried by Prime Sports Arizona, which launches Sept. 1, so essentially he would be working for the same employer, Liberty, which also owns Prime Sports in Los Angeles.

--His son, Kevin, 28, lives in Phoenix, where he is the team photographer for the NBA's Suns and the Arizona Diamondbacks, the new major league baseball team that begins play in 1998.

"I certainly don't want it to appear as though I'm anxious to bail out on the Kings," Miller said. "I had my first meeting with Tim Leiweke [the Kings' new president] on Monday and was very impressed with his plans for the franchise. With my contract expiring, I'm simply exploring other options. I haven't begun negotiations with anyone."

If Miller were to leave, Nick Nickson might be able to move from radio to television, with XTRA's Lee Hamilton taking over the radio play-by-play. Hamilton loves hockey, and the Kings and XTRA recently agreed on a new contract extension.

*

An oddity: ABC offers a heavyweight title fight on free television Saturday. Former champion Michael Moorer fights Axel Schulz for the vacant International Boxing Federation title in a scheduled 12-rounder at Dortmund, Germany. The fight, live in the East but delayed in the West, is part of an all-boxing "Wide World of Sports" at 4:30 p.m. There will also be a replay of the Mike Tyson-Frank Bruno fight in Las Vegas on March 16, and the weekly "Women in the Game" feature will focus on women in boxing.

The last heavyweight title fight on network television was Carl "The Truth" Williams vs. Larry Holmes on NBC in 1985. ABC's last heavyweight title fight was Larry Holmes-Randall "Tex" Cobb in 1982, a lopsided fight that so outraged the late Howard Cosell he never announced another. Tyson's short stint against Peter McNeeley last year on Fox was not a title fight.

Schulz is best remembered for his controversial loss to George Foreman last year. Foreman was ordered by the IBF to give Schulz a rematch, but he refused and lost his title. Schulz then had a controversial loss to Frans Botha, who ended up testing positive for steroids and lost the title.

"It should be a very good fight," ABC commentator Alex Wallau said.

About the lack of quality fights on free television, Wallau said, "It really hurts boxing, but I don't see things changing any time soon."

*

Another oddity: Awards shows for sports usually come and go, but the "Victor Awards" have been around since 1967.

David Marmel was working as a fund-raiser for the City of Hope Medical Center in Duarte when the idea struck him.

"There was the Academy awards for movies, the Emmys for television, the Tonys for stage, so why not an awards show for sports?" Marmel said.

Thus the "Victor Awards," which benefit the City of Hope and the Beckman Research Institute, were born. The 30th-anniversary show will be televised live by Prime Sports on June 29 at 6 p.m. from the Las Vegas Hilton.

Marmel's lineup for his first show included Sandy Koufax, Joe Louis, Max Schmeling and Rick Barry, but it was shown only by Metromedia's six stations, including KTTV in Los Angeles.

The show soon became nationally syndicated and is now carried by the Prime Sports networks, which reach more than 50 million homes. This month, Prime has been running a half-hour special on highlights from three decades of "Victor Awards" shows.

Besides many of the winners in the various categories, others being honored on the 30th-anniversary show include Muhammad Ali, Wayne Gretzky, Walter Payton, Evelyn Ashford, Kathy Whitworth, John Wooden and The Times' Jim Murray.

TV-Radio Notes

The Oscar De La Hoya-Julio Cesar Chavez replay on HBO got a 15.0 rating, HBO's highest boxing rating of the year. Overall, last Saturday's three-fight telecast averaged an 11.2. . . . The De La Hoya-Chavez fight grossed between $45 million and $60 million, but pay-pay-view executives are saying that putting the fight on closed-circuit cost promoter Bob Arum about $6 million in profits. "If that's the case, they should have come up with reasonable guarantees before the fight," Arum said. . . . Game 6 of the NBA finals got a 56.0 rating and an 80 share in Chicago. It did a 38.1-65 in Seattle and a 19.4-42 in Los Angeles. It's a different story without the Bulls. The final game of Houston's sweep over Orlando last year got an L.A. rating of 17.3-29.

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