Ironing out NBA dress code


October 28, 2005|By RAY FRAGER

Here we are, on the cusp of another NBA season, and what are we talking about? A repeat for the San Antonio Spurs? A new cast in Miami? Larry Brown in New York?

No, we're talking dress code. Sport coats. Ixnay on the ing- blay.

For one of ESPN's commentators, putting suits on the players is fine, but he wishes this had been decided a while ago.

"I would like to have seen this discussed right after the season," studio analyst Greg Anthony said during a conference call yesterday. There should be a buzz about the teams and players right now, he said, and "we don't have that yet."

One of ESPN's studio additions, former coach and player Paul Silas, favors the business look.

"If you're going to be a professional, you have to dress like a professional," Silas said. " ... Perception is everything."

Even iconoclastic Bill Walton accepts the buttoned-down edict.

"This is a battle I fought and lost 30 years ago," said Walton, a game analyst for ESPN and ABC. " ... I have spent all summer sewing collars on my tie-dye T-shirts."

ESPN begins its regular-season coverage Wednesday, with a doubleheader of Philadelphia 76ers-Detroit Pistons and Los Angeles Lakers-Denver Nuggets, beginning at 8 p.m., with NBA Shootaround airing at 7.

Silas is one of two additions to NBA Fastbreak, joining former point guard B.J. Armstrong on the late-night show, part of ESPN's Trifecta.

TNT has its first doubleheader Tuesday at 8 p.m., with Nuggets-Spurs and then Dallas Mavericks-Phoenix Suns. TNT's preview show airs at 7.

Stephen A. Smith can be quite as frank as he likes, but ESPN's studio shows will never be as entertaining as TNT's as long as Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith are on the set.

And if Silas' monotone responses to questions on yesterday's teleconference are any sign, he doesn't seem likely to add much life.

Series business

The World Series is over, so you have to find another excuse for those raccoon eyes you've been wearing into the office. A few observations on Fox's coverage while I try to read my late-night scribbles:

One advantage of having games last so long is that, after a while, your ears get kind of numb and you don't really notice all of the head-poundingly obvious things Tim McCarver says.

Not to contradict my previous point, but I swear I heard McCarver say one night that a softball is bigger than a baseball.

With those front-row seats behind the plate in Houston for the Bushes, I think we saw Barbara Bush more during Game 3 than we did in her husband's four years in the White House.

Speaking of people in the stands, as one of my colleagues points out, by the end of the marathon Game 3, it seemed Fox had shown us the face of every person in Minute Maid Park. And each one of them had that same tense look. Now, you can say those close-ups were overdone - and I'd agree with you - but at least it wasn't a stream of Fox prime-time series stars. Just how tense do you figure Simon Cowell would have looked anyway?

In the spirit of full disclosure, I acknowledge dozing off somewhere about the 12th inning in Game 3, so this information comes from colleagues who were awake. Toward the end of the game, McCarver noted the five-hours-plus length and said, within that time, you could have flown from Baltimore to Iceland. Where he pulled that from - and why - is unclear, but he's right. A nonstop flight from Reykjavik to Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport is scheduled to take 5 hours, 20 minutes.

Was it a jinx? Just as the Chicago White Sox began their five-run rally in Game 3, Fox was lauding Roy Oswalt's pitching performance. This included an in-dugout interview with Houston Astros pitching coach Jim Hickey. McCarver was talking about how Oswalt was using off-speed stuff instead of the fastball that had dominated the St. Louis Cardinals in his previous start during the National League Championship Series. To my untrained eye, it appeared the more the inning went on, the more Oswalt was throwing those fastballs and abandoning the curves that had worked so well.

One musical note: After hearing his national anthem rendition before Game 4, we can only hope it's another 17 years before Jon Secada resurfaces.

Over easy

Did you ever lose sleep over Stan "The Fan" Charles' departure from Baltimore's airwaves? He's back - but he'll be making you lose sleep again.

"Fan" fans can't sleep in on Saturday mornings anymore. Starting tomorrow on WJFK (1300 AM), Charles will have a weekly show from 7 to 9 called Stan The Fan's Sports Breakfast Club.

But no Molly Ringwald or Anthony Michael Hall.

Top-rated sports

Highest-rated sports programming for Baltimore for Oct. 19-25 (ratings measure the percentage of television households watching a program):

Program Date Ch. Rtg.

Ravens-Bears 10/23 13 20.4

Chrgrs-Eagles-a 10/23 13 16.3

Steelers-Bngls 10/23 13 11.9

NLCS Gm. 6 10/19 45 8.6

WS Gm. 2 10/23 45 8.2

Jets-Falcons 10/24 2 8.1

WS Gm. 1 10/22 45 8.1

WS Gm. 3 10/25 45 7.9

NLCS Gm. 6-b 10/19 45 7.6

49ers-Skins 10/23 45 5.6

a-3:45 to 4:15 p.m. b-post-game

[ Nielsen ratings courtesy of WBAL-TV]

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