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SPORTS WEEKEND | TV / RADIO

Laker-King Game Is Big for NBC Too

May 05, 2000|LARRY STEWART

NBC's Doug Collins and Bob Costas will be among the spectators watching the Lakers and Sacramento Kings tonight at Staples Center, and like everyone else they'll be anxious about the outcome.

Not that they really care who wins, but the outcome will determine whether they stay in Los Angeles for Game 1 of the next series on Sunday or go elsewhere.

They are two of about 70 NBC personnel who have no idea where they're going next. They'll all be informed after tonight's two NBA playoff games. Most are holding plane tickets to at least two destinations.

Among them is Paul Sunderland, who works for NBC and Fox Sports Net. Tonight, he and co-host Kurt Rambis, along with reporter Bill Macdonald and analysts Ron Thulin and P.J. Carlesimo, will work a special one-hour "Laker Live" pregame show at 6:30 for Fox Sports Net, which will have the game at 7:30.

Then Sunderland will catch a red-eye flight.

"I think I'll be going to Philadelphia, but I'm not sure," he said.

These days, Costas and Collins have been working almost as many Laker telecasts as Chick Hearn and Stu Lantz. The NBC duo's streak, of course, will end if the Lakers lose tonight.

Collins, like most others, is surprised the series with the Kings has gone this far, but not too surprised.

"You've got to give Sacramento credit," he said Thursday. "We all know the Lakers' weaknesses, and the Kings have taken advantage of them."

Collins mentioned the Lakers' outside shooting and Shaquille O'Neal's free-throw shooting as obvious weaknesses.

"The Kings have swarmed Shaq inside, forcing him to the line and forcing the Lakers to shoot outside. Shaq may have shot 60% from the line toward the end of the season, but he isn't now."

He has shot 45% on his free throws in the four games against the Kings.

"I think the key guy [tonight] will be Ron Harper," Collins said. "He's got to come up big. So does Glen Rice. I think Shaq and Kobe [Bryant] could score 65-70 points and the Kings still win, but if Rice scores 18-20 and the big three combine for 85 or so, then the Lakers will win."

END OF AN ERA

ABC will televise its 26th consecutive and final Kentucky Derby Saturday, which means it is also host Jim McKay's last Derby. NBC takes over the Triple Crown races next year.

Producer Curt Gowdy Jr. said ABC doesn't have anything special planned to mark the occasion.

"We sat down and talked about it and asked if we could do anything different or special that we haven't already done, and the answer was no," he said.

McKay, 78, said: "We are very proud of what we have achieved . . . [but the feeling is] let's just do the Kentucky Derby the way we have always done it and give it our very best.

"All the people watching around the country don't really care that much whether we are covering the Derby or NBC or whoever else is covering the Derby. All they care about is the race, and we've done the show. So I am trying to attack it simply as another Derby and doing the best job I can."

Nice to know there are still people in television who recognize the event is what is important.

Others on the ABC crew are co-host Al Michaels, reporters Charlsie Canty and Hank Goldberg and race caller Dave Johnson.

One little-known fact: ABC producer Natalie Jowett last year did a feature on jockey Chris Antley, who won on Charismatic, and the two are now married.

NEW RACING ANNOUNCER

Hollywood Park has a new Hall of Famer on its broadcast team. Joining Mike Willman and Kurt Hoover is jockey Julie Krone, who this week became the first woman elected to horse racing's Hall of Fame.

Krone, 37, retired from racing a year ago after a brilliant 18-year career in which she mostly rode at New York tracks. She has since lost her mother to cancer, divorced her husband, sold her home in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., moved to the San Fernando Valley, and among other things, began working for a church preschool and for the new TV Guide horse racing network, TVG.

Allen Gutterman, Hollywood Park's new vice president of marketing, knew Krone from his days of working at New York tracks and figured since she now lives here, she would be a good addition to the Hollywood Park weekend telecasts on Fox Sports Net 2 and the track's in-house simulcasts.

They say some people don't have the face for television. Well, the 4-foot-10 1/2 Krone doesn't have the voice. But Gutterman sees her high-pitched voice more as an asset, saying it makes her unique.

Krone, asked if she could lower her voice if she tried, made a face that made it appear she was trying and squeaked, "This sounds low-pitched to me."

The answer is no, she can't lower her voice.

SHORT WAVES

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