With all remaining NBA playoff games to be televised by NBC, Fox Sports West says goodbye to the Lakers tonight and kicks things off with a special one-hour "Lakers Live" pregame show at 6. Magic Johnson and "Bulworth" star Halle Berry join host Paul Sunderland at the Great Western Forum. . . .
TNT also closes out its playoff schedule with tonight's Laker-Utah Jazz game, but it is supposed to be blacked out in the Los Angeles area. However, TNT's half-hour pregame show from the Forum at 6:30 will be shown here, and TNT was trying to line up Jerry West as a guest. . . .
The Lakers really are a national draw. TNT got a 5.2 for Game 2 of last year's Western Conference finals between Utah and Houston and a 6.1 for Game 2 of the Laker-Jazz series Monday even though ratings are generally down this year. Turner Sports has averaged a 3.2 rating for 42 playoff telecasts--33 on TNT and nine on TBS--compared to a 3.4 last year. . . .
NBC, which will have noon NBA telecasts Saturday through Monday, will take an in-depth look at the league's labor situation during halftime of Sunday's Laker-Jazz game.
MAILMAN DELIVERS BOMBSHELL
Karl Malone saying on "The Jim Rome Show" Wednesday that next season might be his last with the Jazz came as a surprise, and his appearance on the show was also a surprise.
Travis Rodgers, Rome's producer, had been trying to line up Malone as a guest for weeks, but his call Wednesday was unexpected. Rome was interviewing Portland Coach Mike Dunleavy at the time.
It worked out nicely, as Malone told Dunleavy, "I'd like to play for you, Coach."
Malone also hit it off with Rome, inviting him to his cattle ranch in Arkansas. Rome has called Malone an "African American redneck," and Malone said if Rome came to Arkansas he could see for himself that tag is accurate.
NEW USC BROADCAST TEAM
XTRA 690 is only waiting for final approval from USC before naming Lee Hamilton and Sean Salisbury as its Trojan football announcers.
Salisbury became available once ESPN found a new role for him other than college football sideline reporting. Salisbury, who lost out to Jim Kelly for a spot on ESPN's expanded two-hour "NFL Countdown" Sunday morning pregame show, was offered a co-host role with Mark Malone on a new, five-night-a-week "NFL Tonight" show on ESPN2.
Salisbury, who agreed to be on three nights a week, will commute from San Diego to Bristol, Conn., and do the XTRA morning show with John Fricke and Julie Browman by remote. Salisbury, who has just signed a three-year deal with ESPN, will also serve as a field reporter for "NFL Countdown."
Hamilton could end up doing USC on Saturdays and the Seattle Seahawks on Sundays. He says he has had talks with the Seahawks about doing their radio broadcasts.
FOOTBALL AND MORE FOOTBALL
Now that it has Sunday night NFL games for the entire regular season, ESPN is going a little overboard. Besides a two-hour "NFL Countdown" on Sunday mornings--sorry, two hours is too much--ESPN plans to repeat Sunday night's "NFL Prime Time" highlights show on Monday afternoons and expand the "Prime Monday" show to 90 minutes leading into ABC's "Monday Night Football."
Do you think Disney-owned ESPN would do that much promotional programming if "Monday Night Football" were on a network owned by Rupert Murdoch? Speaking of going overboard, did ESPN really think the airing of its 20,000th "SportsCenter" program on Sunday was more important than David Wells' perfect game? It sure appeared that way.
ROSE DUCKS CANNONS
Pete Rose was a scheduled guest on XTRA 690's "Loose Cannons" show with Steve Hartman and Bill Werndl late last week, but he never called in. Werndl claims Rose was afraid.
"We have a copy of the Dowd report, and he knew it," Werndl said, referring to the report by baseball investigator John Dowd that details Rose's alleged gambling activity. "He knew if he came on our show he wouldn't get any lollipop questions. He bet on baseball and he's a liar when he says he didn't.
"I saw firsthand what was going on in Philadelphia when I was there. The Phillies had the phone outside the locker room taken out so he couldn't call on it to place bets."
ABC's Paul Page has a tough job Sunday, convincing viewers the Indianapolis 500 is still the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing." Indy's rating has dropped from an 8.4 in 1996 to a 6.6 in 1997 to a 5.1 for last year's rain-delayed coverage. . . . Boxing makes its debut on the FX network June 27 when David Reid faces Simon Brown and Shane Mosely takes on Ivan Robinson. . . . KLAC will broadcast the Sparks this season. . . . KLSC, Channel 58, the L.A. Unified School District's station, will televise next Thursday's City Section track and field finals from 6-9:30 p.m., with Randy Rosenbloom, Geoff Nathanson and Dwight Stones reporting.
Bill Murray provided some comic relief and also got off some shots on ESPN's "Up Close" Wednesday. He called sports-talk radio stupid, and then went after TV-radio sports columnists.