The Week That Was: The Sports Broadcasting Hall Of Fame

     The annual Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which honors sports announcers, television and sports league executives, and everyone from the technical side of television such as cameramen, engineers, sound technicians, producers and directors, was held two weeks ago at the New York Hilton. Queens was certainly well represented at this year’s event.

      Astoria native Bob Costas, who spent the bulk of his 45 year-career at NBC, and is currently a play-by-play voice and studio analyst with the MLB Network, was his usual witty self. He spoke about a meeting he had with then NBC Sports president Don Ohlmeyer when he first arrived at the Peacock Network.

       Ohlmeyer was perturbed at his very boyish appearance. “How are you?” he asked. “27″ replied Costas. “How old do you think you’d look if you grew a beard?” Ohlmeyer asked. “32″ Costas quickly responded. “That would be great1″ Ohlmeyer countered. “Yes, because it would take me five years to grow one!” said Costas ending the conversation.

      Costas thanked his longtime producer, Flushing denizen and Queens College alum, Michael Weisman for helping him become a better broadcaster. Weisman is a member of the Class of 2017 Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

      Douglaston native Mary Carillo had to forsake a career on the professional women’s tennis circuit when knee problems became too much for her to overcome. She did not walk away from the sport however as she has been a tennis analyst for every conceivable TV network over the last 35 years.    

     Although tennis will always be her primary passion (it should be noted that she won the mixed doubles championship st the 1977 French Open with her childhood friend and neighbor John McEnroe), Carillo has proven that she can cover all sports and even hard news stories that have nothing to do with the world of fun and games.

    In a nice touch, the sizzle reel showing highlights of Carillo’s broadcasting career were narrated by Whitestone native, Bayside High School alum, and NBC Sports anchor Mike Tirico.

    National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman grew up in Forest Hills’ Parker Towers and attended Russell Sage Junior High School before moving out to Long Island for high school.

     Bettman has been running the NHL for the past 25 years and he joked that he has been booed by hockey fans for all of that time. While there are some debits on his record such as three work stoppages including the cancellation of the 2004-05 season, the NHL has grown form a $400 million industry in 1993 to an estimated $4.5 billion one in 2018. There are 31 franchises and most seem to be doing well although there are a few laggards, The Stanley Cup Final is now shown on NBC after years of being off broadcast network TV.

     Sunday’s New York Jets’ 44-38 loss to the Green Bay Packers in overtime was a highlight reel of the Jets’ ineptitude this season. Gang Green committed 16 penalties which cost them 172 yards of field position; lost their best pass rusher in the second quarter, defensive end Leonard Williams who was tossed from the game by the refs for throwing a punch at Packers offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga; poor game clock management and timeout usage; a secondary that basically let Packers QB Aaron Rodgers complete passes at will; and blew a 25-20 lead at the start of the 4th quarter.

      The silver lining for the Jets was that the loss kept them in the fourth spot to select players in the 2019 NFL Draft. Their fellow unsuccessful co-tenants in MetLife Stadium, the New York Giants, lost in Jets-like fashion in the final minute of the game 28-27 after leading the Indianapolis Colts throughout the game. The Giants have one more win than the Jets going into the last week of the season. The more wins a team has the later in the draft that they pick.

     The New York Knicks appear to be finishing 2018 in free fall as losses are mounting and there is little relief in sight in the short-run. Losing last week to fellow NBA standings weaklings  the Phoenix Suns and the Atlanta Hawks was a holiday lump of coal in the stockings of Knicks fans.

      Making the short-term pain even worse is that Tim Hardaway, Jr., who has been arguably their most reliable scorer is battling plantar fasciittis in his right foot and there is never a timetable for that injury especially for an NBA player who has to run up and down the court as part of their job description.

     Adding to the bad injury news is that forward Kristaps Porzingis certainly does not appear to play before the mid-February All-Star Game break. My guess is that with a playoff spot highly unlikely, and with more to gain by losing than winning when it comes to draft position (Duke freshman forward Zion Williamson appears to be the grand prize for woebegone NBA franchises), Knicks management won’t be eager to rush him back.

     Despite the lack of victories the Knicks are still worth watching. Point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who was obtained in a three-way trade with the Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks, has turned out be one of Knicks general manager Scott Perry’s best moves. Kevin Knox, who was the Knicks first round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, has been streaky as he will hit a lot of shots in a row during a game and then go ice cold. That’s life in the NBA for a young player. Big man Luke Kornet has been impressive with his Dirk Nowitzki-like ability to hit outside jumpers.

      Knicks head coach David Fizdale has made no secret that while he wants to win games, player development is his top goal and he is right.

      Former Knick Jamal Crawford returned to the Garden last Monday night as a member of the Phoenix Suns,. Crawford is the NBA’s answer to Dorian Gray. He is 38 years old and has played 18 years in the league. He still looks the same as when he broke into the NBA as a member of the Chicago Bulls and he can still score points when he is on the court.

     You have to give the Brooklyn Nets credit for resiliency. After losing eight games in a row, many of which were excruciating affairs as the Nets blew one big lead after another in the fourth quarter to various opponents, they came back to win seven consecutive games including a 115-110 victory over LeBron James and the always glitzy Los Angeles Lakers.

     Of course all good things have to come to an end as they came out flat against the talent-wise superior Indiana Pacers and fell behind by 15 in the first quarter. The Nets, in keeping with their never-say-die-attitude made a game of it and even took a 103-100 lead before Pacers’ All-Star Victor Oladipo took control of the game to give the visitors a 114-106 win.

     Pacers forward Myles Turner was spotted a carrying an orange and white plastic bag that contained a box fo Junior’s cheesecake during pregame warmups. “Every Christmas in Dallas  my grandmother would serve it for dessert at Christmas dinner,” he said.

     Former backup Knicks center and Springfield Gardens native Kyle O’Quinn joined the Pacers over the summer as a free agent. I did not get a chance to speak with him but I spoke with his teammate, the inimitable Doug McDermott who was also O’Quinn’s teammate on the Knicks, about how he was adjusting to life in slower-paced Indianapolis. “Kyle has a place in the suburbs on a golf course. He has never swung a golf club in his life!” he said laughing.

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    Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia is fortunate that he did not ignore the signs of excessive sweating and labored breathing a couple of weeks ago after a light workout. Medical tests revealed that the 38 year-old pitcher had some blockage in his arteries and cardiologists placed a stent to improve blood flow. Sabathia should be ready to go when the Yankees open their spring training camp in Tampa in February.

     I was saddened to learn of the passing of Lee Leonard last week at the age of 89. Leonard George Grande were the first faces ever seen on ESPN back in 1979. He is best remembered by baby boomers in this area however for co-hosting “Sports Extra” with Bill Mazer on Channel 5.

     “Sports Extra” was revolutionary when it debuted in 1972 because it was the first local Sunday night sports highlights show in the nation. These days practically every local TV station has a Sunday night sports wrap show and they all owe a debt to the granddaddy of them all, “Sports Extra.”

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