NBA playoff jam session tips off a bit early on TNT

April 22, 1994|By Phil Jackman

The TV Repairman:

"April Apoplexy" (and May and June), the NBA's answer to the collegians' "March Madness," actually kicks off tonight with TNT doing a doubleheader: Jazz vs. Nuggets at 8; Spurs vs. Sonics at 10:20. The NBC game tomorrow (3:30 p.m.) is Magic vs. Hawks. Then, Sunday, the network has the Knicks and Bulls at 1 and Sonics vs. Blazers at 3:30 before TNT corners commentators Hubie Brown and Doug Collins at 8 p.m. to preview the playoffs.

* Mel Kiper, the guru of NFL draftniks and a mainstay on a dozen hours of ESPN and ESPN2 coverage Sunday (3:30 p.m.) and Monday (10 a.m.), says, "The talent in this year's draft is as good as last year's and there will be quality players going into the fourth and fifth rounds."

If you can't be on hand for the start of the show, Kiper says Dan Wilkinson, Heath Shuler, Trent Dilfer and Marshall Faulk will be the first four to go and that's as solid as a U.S. Savings Bond. The Indianapolis Colts, with the second and seventh pick and another selection at the top of the second round, figure to make a score.

* ABC does its next-to-last hockey telecast Sunday (1 p.m.), Rangers vs. Islanders, but don't tune in Channel 13 if you want to watch. The Baltimore affiliate will be going with "Motorweek" at that hour. WJZ has the Orioles-Seattle game later on and, strangely, while Washington's Channel 20 has an O's pre-game show, the local outlet doesn't.

Add Baltimore stations dumping network sports: Channel 11 is opting for something entitled "Acapulco H.E.A.T." at 3 p.m. tomorrow while CBS is sending along the NCAA wrestling championships. WBAL will be aboard for the NCAA women's swimming and diving championships Sunday on the "Eye on Sports" show at 2 p.m. Thanks.

* Jim Lampley, Larry Merchant and George Foreman will be the voices for tonight's TVKO pay-per-view bash between heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield and Michael Moorer. Holyfield's a 2-to-1 favorite, even Moorer's trainer, Teddy Atlas, says his man is "feeling reservations," and, if successful, the challenger would be the first lefty heavyweight champion. How reliable are the law of averages?

* What makes the Arkansas Derby telecast on ESPN tomorrow (6 p.m.) appealing hereabouts is the fact the steed that prevails at Oaklawn usually performs well in the Preakness a month hence. Something about the racing surfaces being very similar.

* News that Olympic diving champion Mark Lenzi is considering selling his gold medal in order to underwrite flying lessons prompts the idea that he should get the shopping networks into a bidding war for the rights to conduct the auction. What does he plan on doing, starting a career of diving out of airplanes?

* Top Rank Promotions completing 14 years of providing fights for ESPN with Jake Rodriguez's unanimous decision win over Ray Oliveira to retain his IBF junior welterweight crown. Forget all the champions (91) who have appeared on Top Rank shows, how about some of the names: Slugger O'Toole, Choo Choo Brown, Cobra Williams, Brown Sugar, Wimpy Halstead, Caveman Lee and, of course, Vampire Johnson.

* The ESPN/Chilton Sports Poll says 37 percent of the people watching NFL football are women. . . . Showtime's doing the replay May 7 of the recent kickboxing show in Montreal that saw Rick Roufus defeat Jean-Yves Theriault at the top of the tri-championship card. . . . The fact that Phyllis George is returning to the tube with an interview show proves what short memories TV executives have.

* It's pretty well agreed that the MVP award in the NBA is probably up for grabs between David Robinson and Hakeem Olajuwon, but not according to a poll conducted by TNT. Fans backed Scottie Pippen to the tune of 52 percent over Robinson (18%) and Olajuwon (17%).

* The Orioles TV network landed itself a keeper with Mike Flanagan moving in as a part-time analyst on Bird telecasts, which seem to show up everywhere but The Learning Channel.

XTC * Remember, because of the NFL draft on ESPN Sunday, the Dodgers vs. Expos baseball game won't commence until 9 p.m., which means the J-Boys, Jon Miller and Joe Morgan, probably will be yodeling until well past midnight. Oh, an added feature of the game will be the introduction of BaseCam, a wireless camera embedded in the second base bag. Try to contain your excitement, please.

* The Dallas Cowboys continue to live up to their "America's Team" billing of years ago, the tape of their second straight Super Bowl victory being the country's No. 1 selling sports video for two months.

Meanwhile, isn't it comforting to know that ex-Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson will be raking in about a quarter million for a minimum of work as a studio analyst for Fox Network this fall?

* It's not known if Pat Summerall is looking for a golf job now that he has left CBS to do football for Fox, but, if he is, ABC has to be first in line. Listen to the folks the network lists as its "top golf sportscasters": Roger Twibell, Steve Melnick, Judy Rankin, Ed Sneed and Bob Rosburg. Some name recognition, huh?

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