SBD/Issue 21/Sports Media

People & Personalities: Smith Jets MSG Over Philosophical Dispute

Smith Claims To Have Left MSG Net Because
He Cannot Bring Local Feel To Knicks Games
TNT NBA analyst Kenny Smith, who will no longer serve as an analyst for Knicks games on MSG Network this season, indicated that a "difference in philosophy is reason enough to exit" the net. Smith: "They told me they want the telecast to have a local feel. After doing TNT I can't do that. I don't want to go backwards. That's not me. That's not really what I want to be part of. No hard feelings." In N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote when it comes to the Knicks, MSG Chair James Dolan "has not been reluctant to spring for stupid moolah," but it appears Smith was "looking at a major pay cut." MSG sources said that Smith previously was earning $10,000 per game, but was offered just $3,000 per game this season. Meanwhile, announcer Gus Johnson, "who was in a tough negotiation with MSG suits, will be returning to the radio side," signing a multi-year deal with MSG (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/12).

THREE-MAN WEAVE: Comcast SportsNet New England last week let Bob Cousy go after serving as a Celtics analyst 34 years, and CSN New England Exec VP & GM Bill Bridgen said, "I like the consistency of a two-man booth, as opposed to going with a three-man booth for nine or 10 games." Bridgen: "This is not anti-Bob Cousy or for financial reasons." Cousy, who noted he earned about $50,000 annually from Comcast, said, "Last year was kind of fun, frankly, and I was looking forward to doing it again. Comcast can choose to do the hiring and firing, but if it's a financial situation, I'm not being overpaid." Cousy said that the three-man broadcast team was "contrary to an NBA directive but the Celtics made an exception for him" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/11).

WELCOME TO THE TEAM: ESPN yesterday introduced Basketball HOFer Magic Johnson as an NBA studio analyst. Johnson will make his debut with the net on ABC’s “GMC NBA Countdown” before a Christmas Day tripleheader. Johnson had served as a studio analyst for TNT the past seven years, primarily during the net’s Thursday night coverage. ESPN also announced analyst Jeff Van Gundy signed a five-year deal to remain with net as part of its lead announcing team alongside Mike Breen and Mark Jackson (THE DAILY). Johnson said of joining ESPN/ABC, "Nothing went wrong or was bad (at TNT). This is an opportunity. I wanted to work the NBA Finals" (USA TODAY, 10/14). Meanwhile, Van Gundy's brother, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, said, "He's a good broadcaster, but I still think of him as a coach. I think that's what he does best, so it's hard for me to imagine him going another five years without coaching" (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 10/13).

Dale Jarrett Described As The "Ultimate
Natural" As NASCAR Analyst
GRADE A: In Charlotte, Ron Green Jr. wrote ESPN NASCAR analyst Dale Jarrett has "made himself a student of broadcasting, working to find the balance between being too technical and giving the fans what they want to hear." ESPN Senior Motor Sports Producer Neil Goldberg said of Jarrett, "From the minute he stepped into the booth, he was as good if not better than any racing analyst who has been in the booth. He's the ultimate natural. It's a legitimate and unfiltered presentation. He lets you understand how it feels out there" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 10/11).

NOTES: KMOX-AM Blues analyst Kelly Chase "has a lesion on his brain." Chase said that a biopsy "is possible, but that the hope is to diagnose the ailment before that procedure would be necessary." Chase noted that he "doesn't plan to miss" any remaining Blues games this season (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/10)....YES Network has hired NBA analyst Mike Fratello for Nets telecasts, teaming up throughout the season with play-by-play announcers Marv Albert and Ian Eagle. Analyst Jim Spanarkel also will return for another season (YES)....FSN West and Prime Ticket have hired Kings Vision host Heidi Androl to work as a reporter for all Kings home games televised on the RSN (Kings).

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