Airwaves: Broadcasting trio a great blend for finals 

ABC-ESPN will be very happy when the final TV numbers of the NBA finals with the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics surface. Wow, what a series!

The storyline is incredible. The two most decorated franchises in the history of the NBA are at it again.

As most of you know, these are two great, historical organizations that have dominated the ranks of the NBA for years. Ex-TV analyst turned coach Doc Rivers has done a brilliant job with the Celtics this year. His vision and coaching direction has gotten Boston back to where it belongs, in the NBA finals.

As we watch these games, it is obvious, which was predicted in December on this page, this is a classic series. ABC-ESPN is doing a super job of bringing it to your television.

The crew of Mike Breen, Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy have done a good job so far. Breen is solid, but if I were doing the hiring, I would have Grant Napear from Sacramento as my lead guy. He has more zip and a viewer-friendly personality. Do not get me wrong, Breen is a professional, but I prefer the play-by-play man with more enthusiasm.

The under-appreciated Jackson has developed into a very good analyst. Although he does not have the deep background of his partner, Van Gundy, he seemingly gets better with each telecast. The glue to the broadcast is the “unusual one,” Van Gundy. We have talked about him many times before. He is a quirky fellow. He is never going to be compared from a looks standpoint to Brad Pitt. He does not have the dominant presence of a John Madden. His voice is, at times, screechy.

However, what comes out of his mouth is entertaining and right on about the X’s and O’s of basketball. He is the source in the booth. His coaching background is the encyclopedia that this broadcast needs.

I have always been very partial to ex-coaches as analysts. The depth of strategical knowledge is the key to a broadcast, and ex-coaches, not necessarily ex-players, bring this out.

As you read this, ABC is counting its advertising money and patting themselves on the back because of the off-the-chart ratings.

 

Expect NBC to be at its best for US Open

 

This will be an exciting week in the Bay Area as the U.S. Open begins play on Thursday at historic and beautiful Pebble Beach. What a scene this should be. The glamor and the pageantry, as well as the level of players, will be unequaled. I hope Tiger Woods plays well and is in the hunt at the end.

ESPN and NBC will split the coverage for the first two days, while NBC will bring it home on Saturday and Sunday. It seems unusual to be watching a big-time golf tournament without it being on CBS. Johnny Miller is good, but I prefer Sir Nick Faldo along with Jim Nantz to tell me about golf. Of course, I know nothing about the game and can’t play a lick.

The Bay Area is indeed fortunate because in just two years, 2012, the U.S. Open will be played in The City at the Olympic Club.
I need to visit with my golf guru, Bob Boldt, before I run off and make any predictions about who can and should win this event. Boldty is usually right-on when it comes to the golf world. Football and hoops, however, are a different story.

Every Bay Area media outlet will be at Pebble to report this event. It should be a great big happening as well as a huge party.

 

Pac is rising

I really hate to say I told you so, but this Pac-10 Conference expansion story will not go away. Colorado was the first to jump ship, leaving the Big 12 on Thursday. Can you imagine the Texas Longhorns invading Strawberry Canyon for a game against the Golden Bears of Cal. How exciting will that be?

The Pac-10, led by new commissioner Larry Scott, has quietly and brilliantly planned this whole scheme of expansion to perfection. It will be the coup of college sports in the last 25 years. The Big 12 Conference will likely no longer be in existence.
A while back, Scott hired as his No. 2 Kevin Weiberg. Now Weiberg is a friend of mine because I got to know him when he was the commish of the Big 12 and I was doing college football games for Fox. We had the Big 12 package. You had better believe that Weiberg had as much to do with this upcoming “merger” as anyone in the Pac-10 office. This was a great hire by the visionary Scott.

 

Who said it

 

Jed York

“It makes it a lot easier to get a stadium built in Northern California,” the young owner and president of the 49ers said after the people of Santa Clara passed Measure J this week. No kidding, Jed. You think it would have been more difficult to get the house built without it?


Brian Sabean

“There wasn’t any intent when we brought him up that we would send him back,” the crafty Giants general manager declared when asked if rookie sensation Buster Posey might be returning to the minors this season. If a .444 average after your first 10 games doesn’t convince you he belongs, what does?

 

Sports by numbers

 

Length in yards of the 14th hole at Pebble Beach, longest on the course

580


Total course length in yards of Pebble Beach

7,040

Par for Pebble Beach at U.S. Open

71

 

One to watch

 

The Boston Celtics and Lakers square off in pivotal Game 5 of the NBA finals. Today’s matchup is the last game in Boston before the series is scheduled to shift back to Los Angeles for Games 6 and 7. Kobe Bryant and the Lakers have looked comfortable on the road in this series and will need to show it once again to pick up a victory. ABC will carry all the action at 5 p.m.

 

Off target

 

The Warriors, who do a magnificent marketing job, unveiled their new logo this week. I have no reaction whatsoever. I don’t love it, nor do I dislike it. Vanilla ice cream! This edition is the same blue-gold color scheme, but now we are looking at the Bay Bridge. There is just something very bland about it. Maybe when Larry Ellison finally buys the team, they will dress it up a bit.


Artie Gigantino spent 25 years as a coach at the major-college and NFL levels, was lead college football analyst for Fox Sports Net for seven years, was with CBS for one year and was an executive with the Raiders for three years. E-mail him at agigantino@sfexaminer.com.

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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