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Spero Dedes gets a gem in first tournament game

Lakers play-by-play man is on hand to call the Murray State upset of Vanderbilt, and reflects on how much preparation it takes and how grateful he is for the opportunity.

March 18, 2010|By Diane Pucin

From Lakers games to NCAA tournament games. From calling the world champions to calling a buzzer-beating winning shot that gives a Cinderella named Murray (State) a big-time upset.

The world is good for Spero Dedes right now.

Here's how Dedes, the Lakers radio play-by-play man, called the last seconds of the Racers' upset of Vanderbilt from San Jose on Thursday:

"[Jeffrey] McClain inbounding the ball, right corner to [Isaac] Miles. Finding space, there's [Danero] Thomas … one second … got it. At the buzzer. And 13th-seeded Murray State has pulled off the opening-round shocker."

And then Dedes was quiet. He and analyst partner Bob Wenzel let the celebration happen. Kind of perfect.

Little things mark a smart announcer. When Dedes told us there was one second left as Thomas took his shot? That was the right touch. Viewers didn't have to try to figure out whether the shot would count.

"This experience has been everything I anticipated," Dedes said. "To have Murray State win as my first-ever tournament game, it was downright surreal."

If it seems a little weird that he would take a few days off from covering the Lakers, Dedes is quick to make sure we all know what comes first.

"I wouldn't be here if the Lakers weren't completely supportive and behind things," he said. "That's my top priority — the Lakers — and I would never jeopardize that," Dedes said, adding that Tim Harris, the Lakers' senior vice president of business operations and Jeanie Buss, "have been so encouraging and positive. I'm here with their blessing … but, still, I'm not comfortable missing Lakers games."

Dedes said that from Sunday until Thursday morning, he's been all about the research. "It was seven to eight hours a day of studying," he said. "Ian Eagle, a mentor of mine for a long time and a veteran of CBS' coverage, really walked me through how to prepare, breaking things down in sections."

John Ireland, who filled in for Dedes on Wednesday's Lakers game (Bill MacDonald will do the next one), said he is a big admirer of Dedes' skills.

"He's incredibly well-prepared," Ireland said. "He's one of those guys who won't get outworked and he's one of those guys, he never gets too high or too low. For a young guy he's incredibly well-polished."

And he got some wide distribution Thursday. The end of the Murray State game and the last few seconds of Washington's upset over Marquette win were broadcast everywhere.

Danger zone

It's always dangerous for commentators to suggest an athlete isn't really hurt/sick, is being a drama king/queen, is trying to buy time or sympathy. Because when it's not true, it's a really big oops.

Ducks analyst Brian Hayward found that out Wednesday. Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook was given a crushing hit by Anaheim's James Wisniewski. Seabrook didn't immediately get up and Hayward quickly suggested, "Now is Seabrook selling this? I don't know if he's selling it or he's injured. The way he got up afterwards I almost think he was selling it. But I'm honestly not sure."

Later Ducks play-by-play caller John Ahlers read a statement from the Blackhawks that said, "Brent Seabrook has suffered an upper body injury and will not return." Hayward apologized on the air. "I feel bad now that I realize the player is indeed injured on the play."

But for announcers and writers, and even other players, it's just best to not go there. The hit earned Wisniewski an eight-game suspension.

Hayward said Thursday that he made a mistake, plain and simple.

"You wish you hadn't said it," Hayward said. "I called what I saw. I'm sorry I said what I said."

Free follow

Pete Holtermann, media director of the Los Angeles Open men's tennis tournament, had been on site for the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells Tennis Garden until Thursday. Holtermann is also a serious college basketball fan (Xavier graduate, Musketeers all the way) who printed out brackets for all the tennis people.

He flew home to Florida on Thursday and was thrilled to be handed a card at the airport promoting an in-flight Internet service that would allow him to follow the games. Holtermann took his card and would have been willing to pay for it but, lucky guy, when he got on his flight and logged on he received a message saying the payment system was down and that the product was free.

And maybe that's secretly brilliant. If you get hooked on free in-flight Internet you probably will be willing to pay the second time. Otherwise, the service lost a nice chunk of money Thursday.

diane.pucin@latimes.com

twitter.com/mepucin

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