Airwaves: King’s interview with LeBron James a gem 

The word this week in the sports world seems to be all LeBron James. He added much fuel to the fire on Friday night when he allowed the great Larry King to come to his Akron, Ohio, area home and do a one-on-one for “Larry King Live.”

Needless to say, Mr. King asked the major question of where LeBron was going to be playing next year. Responded the King of Hoops: “Absolutely, [the Cavs] have the best chance of signing me.” Although that is not exactly a signed contract, it should put the Cavs’ fan base at bay, at least for a while. Of course, now ownership needs to go find the right coach for this situation.

I chuckled when I heard his comments about getting together with other free agent superstars and having a summit on who is going where during free agency. This year there are some good ones who will be available to sign. The list includes
LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, among others. Throw in the coaches that are, or could be, available and the offseason for the NBA has become much like the king of sports, the NFL.

LeBron will do what he thinks is best for him and his future. Everyone can speculate all they want, but until the free agency period begins on July 1, it is a waste of breath.

I was glad LeBron granted Mr. King the interview. A few years back when I was doing the Raiders preseason broadcasts with the sensational Grant Napear, King dropped by the booth to say hi and come on air in the third quarter. King’s wife was a wannabe singer, and Al Davis granted her the opportunity to come and sing the anthem. In lieu of payment, Larry agreed to stop by the booth and chit chat on the air. (Only kidding about in lieu of payment. He and Al are good friends from way back.) Anyway, he was well-versed on the Raiders and it was a thrill to be alongside King on the air.

As he was leaving during a commercial break, and we said goodbye, he turned to me and said, “young man, I like your exuberance and enthusiasm.” Of course I was thrilled. After the game, the voice of the Sacramento Kings and I went for a cool one to review our performance during the game. Before we began our normal, detailed critique, I asked Grant, “What does exuberance mean?” Replied my fellow East Coaster, “Don’t worry, it is all good.” Ever since then, it has been all good in my opinion of the elder statesman, Larry King. I might not want marriage or wedding advice from him, but I love him on the air.


Hockey’s heating up in playoffs


Watch out NFL! The National Hockey League is right behind you!

In the Chicago Blackhawks’ televised win on Monday, it was the best overnight rating for a Stanley Cup Game 2 on record. The 2-1 win over the Flyers on NBC drew a 4.1 rating. Pretty impressive.

-- Boxing, which I hate, returned to Yankee Stadium on Saturday night with an HBO-televised bout between Miguel Cotto and Yuri Foreman. Hard to believe, but there has been no boxing in Yankee Stadium for 34 years. This is a real sign of the financial times in which we live. First, the newly created Pinstripe Bowl (college football), and now the return of boxing. Pretty cool when you think about it. Since there are very few dual-sports complexes. (Ya hear me Oakland?) New stadiums need to be used all the time in the offseason. See some guy in Texas named Jerry Jones.

-- “We are all trying to get over this. I think we are already over this,” said Steelers offensive tackle Willie Colon on the return of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to the team and the hoopla surrounding their offseason workouts. Let me ask you a question Willie, just for the heck of it: “Are you over it or are you still trying?” I thought offensive linemen were the smartest guys on the team.

-- Insiders tell me that the 49ers feel great about their chances this year of winning the division. I am glad they feel good about it, but a guy named Alex Smith is still the quarterback. The staff, the ex-
linebacker who is now the head coach and offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye are all doing an excellent job, but a guy named Smith is still the quarterback.


Who said it?


Robert Kraft

“We are lucky to have him as our quarterback and we want him to be our quarterback for a long time,” stated the New England Patriots owner, after some national speculation that ownership and San Mateo’s Tom Brady were beginning to have a chilly relationship based on Brady’s contract. No, this can’t be true. No way!

Doc Rivers

“You compare me to Phil Jackson and we’re in trouble. He’s got 10 rings, I’ve got one. He’s the best coach ever in the game,” said the likeable Boston Celtics coach. Talk about two coaches playing mind games. Both are pretty good at it and the results of this interesting series will be, duh, interesting.


One to Watch


The A’s wrap up their series with the visiting Minnesota Twins today, as the young Gio Gonzalez takes the mound for the home team. Nick Blackburn will throw for the Twins, who are in a comfortable lead in their division early in the season. Gonzalez is coming off two straight no decisions after allowing three runs in each game. The action can be seen at the Oakland Coliseum or on Comcast SportsNet California. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m.


On Target


I had a long talk with a coach this week from the United Football League. His team is trying very hard to sign none other than JaMarcus Russell. Now that would be something for this league. Daunte Culpepper is scheduled to join Dennis Green’s team, the Sacramento Mountain Lions. The Raiders must be proud, two ex-quarterbacks leading the UFL. If nothing else, it might help get a TV audience.


Sports by numbers


TV rating for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals, the highest-rated Game 2 ever


Increase in rating for Game 2 this year compared to last year


Increase in sales at the NHL’s online storE this year compared to last year



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

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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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