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SPORTS WEEKEND | TV-RADIO

NBC Spreads the Court in NBA Coverage

April 20, 2001|LARRY STEWART

The Lakers wrapped up the Pacific Division title Tuesday night after winning their final eight regular-season games. It was time for the playoffs. The city was fired up.

But we all had to wait. And wait.

The Lakers don't play their first playoff game until Sunday, and then don't play their second until Thursday.

By then, Los Angeles may be a hockey town. Two games in eight days aren't enough to keep the juices flowing.

The reason NBA strings out the playoff games is to give NBC more weekend exposures.

NBC's Bill Walton, for one, doesn't think it's such a bad idea.

"I like the spacing of the games," he said. "It's impossible to watch four games per night. Two games per night is a much better deal."

He also pointed out the spacing allows the players to rest. "It provides fans with an increased performance on the court," he said.

Spoken like a loyal NBC employee.

Walton, at least for now, certainly isn't going to say anything his bosses don't like. He's in line for a promotion.

At this point, he has to be the favorite to move up to the A announcing team with Marv Albert as Doug Collins' replacement.

Collins was supposed to be on a conference call with media Thursday. Turns out he was busy elsewhere.

His new position as coach of the Washington Wizards won't affect his NBC job for now. He'll work alongside Albert through the playoffs.

Might Michael Jordan, the Wizards' president, return to the court to play for Collins, who coached him during his early days with the Chicago Bulls?

Some answers may come Saturday. Jordan granted an interview to Ahmad Rashad, and the interview will be shown on NBC in two parts--the first part on the pregame show at 9 a.m. and the second part during halftime of the third game of a tripleheader, Minnesota at San Antonio.

Bob Costas returns to NBA play-by-play this weekend, filling in for Tom Hammonds, who is recovering from colon surgery. Hammonds will be back in time to work NBC's coverage of the Kentucky Derby on May 5.

AWARDS DEPARTMENT

NBC was the big winner at this week's Sports Emmy Awards in New York, winning 10 Emmys for its coverage of the Sydney Olympics. Costas won his 13th Emmy for the job he did as host.

Al Michaels won his fourth Emmy for play-by-play and Fox's Steve Lyons was named best analyst. One of Michaels' Emmys was in the news category for his work covering the San Francisco earthquake during the 1989 World Series.

Dick Enberg was presented with a lifetime achievement award.

DRAFT WEEKEND

For the 22nd consecutive year, ESPN will present live coverage of the NFL draft this weekend, beginning Saturday at 9 a.m. ESPN2 takes over at 4 p.m. On Sunday, coverage begins at 8 a.m. on ESPN and switches to ESPN2 at 10 a.m.

Archie and Peyton Manning will team to cover the draft for a special edition of DirecTV's "Sports This Week" Saturday at 9 a.m.

For the first time, the four-round WNBA draft gets television coverage. ESPN2 will have a one-hour special today at 8:30 a.m., with Matt Delvin serving as host. He'll be joined by Ann Meyers, Doris Burke and Vera Jones. Teams begin making selections at 8 a.m.

SHORT WAVES

Good move by Fox Sports Net to replay Wednesday night's King game on Thursday night. That way, people who left Staples Center early were able to see the wild finish. ESPN Classic should also show the game sometime soon. . . . Hollywood Park's 62nd spring/summer meet opens tonight, and that means the return of "Hollywood Park Live" on Fox Sports Net 2. It will have a more consistent time slot-- Wednesdays through Sundays at 4 p.m.--and Julie Krone will again join co-hosts Mike Willman and Kurt Hoover. . . . Anybody notice the great ratings "Santa Anita Live" was getting?

The press box at Dodger Stadium will be named for Vin Scully during a ceremony Saturday at 5:45 p.m. . . . Good thing the Angels are putting games not carried by KLAC (570) on KMPC (1540) as well as KMNX-FM (94.3) because Anaheim-based KMNX does not have much range. . . . Shaquille O'Neal guest-stars as himself on the WB series "The Model Client" on Channel 5 Sunday at 9:30 a.m. . . . In Demand pay-per-view is offering two 2002 World Cup South American qualifiers next week. On Tuesday at 6 p.m., it's Chile vs. Paraguay, and Wednesday at 5:45 p.m., it's Brazil vs. Peru. The price is $19.95 each.

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