Enough already of this Team USA basketbore

The TV Repairman

July 06, 1992|By Phil Jackman

Have you noticed marked boredom beginning to creep into telecasts of "Dream Team" games? We speak not of the ennui rampant in living rooms across the land as the NBA juggernaut steamrolled past another bewildered cast, but of the demeanor of the U.S. players. The Tournament of the Americas, so proudly heralded by NBC for so long, might better have been advertised as the best of "garbage time."

It was expected the likes of Magic, Michael, Mr. Robinson, Sir Charles, Mailman et al would do pretty much as they wanted, but any semblance of competitiveness flew out the window when teams from the Caribbean and South America didn't even bother to feign playing defense.

With absolutely no opposition, the DT simply strolled around in lackadaisical fashion as fans, who should have known better, cheered wildly instead of squealing with displeasure.

Adding to the total farce was NBC's Armageddon approach: "The team begins to atone for five years of desperation. Today, the Americas; tomorrow, the world," announcer Marv Albert intoned during the introduction. Hopefully, he didn't write these words.

Poor Larry Bird, resting a bad back for a week, was forced into action by his mates yesterday, and he was probably speaking for millions of viewers when he revealed, "I was almost asleep" when was thrust into the fray.

The team now has two weeks off before gathering up in Monte Carlo for five days of practice, then it's on to glory and re-establishing this country as one of the biggest sports bullies of all time. It should do wonders for NBA expansion in the future, however, which lends proper perspective to what's going on. Keep those contributions coming to the U.S. Olympic Committee, gang.

* Never has a guy who served up two double faults and butchered a couple of fairly simple volleys, as Goran Ivanisevich did in the last game, seem so relieved to state that Andre Agassi "deserved it" while winning the Wimbledon title yesterday. It's called giving in to pressure or, more accurately, "choking."

The five-setter and hours of subsequent doubles probably saved the weekend for NBC, though, since the women's final Saturday was a thrice-delayed bomb and only about 10 percent of the action since last Thursday was live.

* If you were "Dreaming" after watching sourpuss McEnroe and his partner playing to a 13-13 fifth set tie suspended by darkness, you missed a gripping conclusion to the Western Open on CBS. Poor Greg Norman, somewhat noted for his last-round fades, held up admirably this time, but still missed a couple of makeable birdie putts to avoid a playoff with winner Ben Crenshaw.

Good thing Brent Musburger (ABC) wasn't there, he might have asked "The Shark" about the failure and been castigated by his former colleagues at CBS.

* NBC's "Dateline" show last week pointed out that baseball memorabilia is a $1 billion industry fraught with tons of the collectibles being passed off as authentic being fake. But as P.T. Barnum said, "there's sucker born every minute." Boy, was he being conservative. The thing is, almost all people who frequent these shows have a little larceny in their hearts and should be aware of the caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) theorem.

* Home Team Sports has been nominated for another Emmy for its Orioles baseball coverage, and is extremely proud that about 85 percent of its Bird watchers get the games as part of no-additional-monthly-charge basic service. United Artists Cable of Baltimore, Comcast of Baltimore County and Orioles, take note.

* Sudden thought: If the favored Cuban team wins the baseball tournament in the upcoming Summer Olympics, will the U.S. shrink back in horror and send the likes of Cal Ripken and Roger Clemens?

* Hopefully, Gayle Gardner isn't paranoid, because the new person grabbing anchor time at NBC, Hannah Storm, is solid. Her Wimbledon efforts were better than good. Does she look like a younger sister of ex-Channel 13er Andrea Kirby or what?

* Comedy Central should be covering the NFL antitrust trial currently raging in Minneapolis. Imagine sports agents getting on the stand and insisting that top players (in any sport) don't

necessarily gravitate to the richer markets under free agency. And one even cited baseball as an example, obviously forgetting Bobby Bonilla, Jack Morris, Eddie Murray, Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter and all the failures the California Angels took aboard.

* More than a few folks watching early-morning TV (Channel 2) might take the fact the Orioles, after being outfitted with a glamorous new park, haven't yet signed a promised 15-year lease agreement a little more seriously than Governor Schaefer's, "Heh-heh-heh, that's just business." An aspiring talk-show host has to be a little less wimpish, Guv.

* USA Network has announced it has an opponent for Tim Witherspoon (37-3) for tomorrow's "Tuesday Night Fights" card. On second thought, maybe opponent is too strong, it's Everett ** "Big Foot" Martin (17-14).

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