SBD/24/Sports Media

NBC'S NBA RATINGS UP; SHAQ'S TRASH TALK HEARD OVER THE AIR

          NBC's NBA coverage is averaging a 5.9 rating/14 share
     after 11 weeks of coverage of games played through Sunday,
     February 15.  That rating is up 5% from the '96-97 season,
     which averaged a 5.6 through the first 11 weeks.  On Sunday,
     the Rockets-Knicks early game earned a 4.2/11 overnight,
     while the Lakers-Magic earned a 5.4/12 (THE DAILY).
          NO LOVE LOST: Sunday's Lakers-Magic game marked
     Shaquille O'Neal's first game in Orlando since signing with
     the Lakers.  During the player introductions, O'Neal was
     seen and heard saying, "Shut the f--- up" to the crowd --
     more than once -- as they booed his introduction (THE
     DAILY).  USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand wrote that NBC rookie
     analyst Isiah Thomas "had his best game so far" during the
     Lakers-Magic game (USA TODAY, 2/23).  An editorial in the
     ORLANDO SENTINEL said the game was "more about beating L.A. 
     It was even about more than settling an old score with
     Shaquille O'Neal.  It was about community pride and spirit. 
     It was about believing in Magic" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 2/24).

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