In Karvellas, new-look Bullets get old friendWhen you call...


November 06, 1992|By RAY FRAGER

In Karvellas, new-look Bullets get old friend

When you call the Washington Bullets offices -- as I'm sure most of you do several times a week, if for no other reason than to check on whether Charles Jones' book on shooting is out yet -- the phone is answered this way: "Washington Bullets, you gotta love this game."

At least, I think that's what I heard. Maybe the person on the other end of the phone just was mumbling as he sang along to "In A-Gadda-Da-Vida."

In any case, Jim Karvellas seems ready to love these games. The 30-year veteran NBA announcer returns as the Bullets' play-by-play man tonight at 8 on Channel 20's telecast of the season opener from Charlotte, N.C.

Karvellas was the voice of the Bullets for 12 seasons, leaving after 1974-75. In the spring, he left the New York Knicks after 12 years, and was hired by Channel 20 in September, when WDCA decided -- as Home Team Sports had with the Washington Capitals -- that Channel 20 and HTS should have separate Bullets play-by-play men. Mel Proctor remains on HTS telecasts, and Phil Chenier will be analyst on both outlets.

"I'm rather excited. And, for a guy who's been in the league this long, it's hard to get me excited," Karvellas said yesterday. "I like the chemistry here."

(Sorry, I wasn't able to ask how he liked the geometry, physics and social studies.)

"I like the decision to get rid of the excess baggage [such as John Williams and Ledell Eackles] by replacing them with kids like Brent Price, Don MacLean and Tom Gugliotta. . . . It shows that they [the Bullets] are determined to do something about the last couple of years."

When Karvellas departed the Knicks -- it was reported he was squabbling with partner Walt Frazier, but the move apparently had more to do with the club's wanting to save money -- he left behind a team that seems ready to enter the league's upper echelon. But he said it can be fun to watch NBA youngsters learning to walk.

"Let's be honest, they're not going to win the NBA championship," Karvellas said. "But it'll be interesting to see them learn."

And the announcer need only look down on the bench to stir up some pleasant memories.

"It's nice being back with Wes [Unseld, Bullets coach]," he said. "Every time I see him, I think of the old days back in the Baltimore Civic Center."

But the Civic Center is now the Arena, home to four Bullets games a season, and the jump-shooting guard named Chenier will be sitting at the broadcast table wearing a headset.

"I knew Phil as a player, but I've never worked with him before," Karvellas said.

The two have discussed how they'll work together, and Chenier got a scouting report on Karvellas from Butch Beard, coach at Howard University and one of Karvellas' former partners.

"I need to do a lot [during the telecast]," Karvellas said, indicating that he often engages in analysis himself. "[He told Chenier:] 'If I say something with which you disagree, say it.'

"My style is not to be condescending. I'm not a shill for the team, but I'm not a knocker."

But we hear you knocking, Jim, and you can come in.

Turning Japanese

TNT also begins its NBA season tonight, with the Bulls and Cavaliers at 8, followed by the SuperSonics and Rockets from Tokyo.

Though we can expect a heavy dose of the champion Bulls and Michael Jordan this season (they're scheduled for 10 telecasts), TNT analyst Doug Collins said it's also important -- especially with the departure of Magic Johnson -- to feature other teams.

"I think the league is going through a time when some young stars must vault forward," Collins said, speaking about the NBA's first season since 1979 without either Johnson or Larry Bird. "I think you still have Chicago with Michael Jordan, but I really think the next stage . . . is up to us at TNT to show Charlotte and Orlando, so that the Shaquille O'Neals, Larry Johnsons and Kendall Gills can step forward."

Sunday night switch

TNT has completed its half of the NFL schedule, and, on Sunday, ESPN takes over with the Bengals vs. the Bears (8 p.m.). As they said in "The Wizard of Oz," tigers and bears, oy vey. I guess that was in the Jackie Mason version.

For nine games, TNT averaged a 6.9 cable rating and 10.5 cable share. A cable rating measures the percentage of homes with cable watching a program. A cable share measures the percentage among cable homes in which the television is in use. This is not to be confused with a national rating, overnight rating, NC-17 rating, rating between the lines or rating the riot act.

TNT will go back to its usual Sunday night movies. This week: Marlon Brando, Marlin Perkins, Tony Perkins, Tony Curtis, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jamie Farr and Miller Farr in "On the Waterfront in the Wild Kingdom by the Bates Motel with the Defiant Ones on Halloween Watching 'M*A*S*H' and Old Houston Oilers Highlights." In Technicolor.

Working on the night golf

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