8.12.2013

He's triple-teamed by local affiliates

May 9, 1997

Once again, all the local stations interrupted regular programming yesterday to broadcast the words of Rick Pitino, the new Celtics coach.

Nothing new was learned. Pitino already dominated Tuesday's newscasts when he announced he was leaving the University of Kentucky to take over the Celtics, and this was more or less a formality.

Pitino praised M.L. Carr and Red Auerbach and Dave Gavitt, but those heartfelt endorsements weren't really news in the classic sense.

They demonstrated Pitino's class, but in terms of true revelations - such as whether Pervis Ellison or Brent Szabo will be traded - there wasn't much to stop the presses with at the FleetCenter.

But this was, as Channel 4's Bob Lobel said, a "coronation."

Even reporters wondered aloud whether media presence was excessive or whether the hiring of a professional basketball coach was worth interrupting soap operas.

Quipped Lobel, live from the FleetCenter, "There's more cameras here than when the pope came."

Could be. The Pitino conference began at 1 p.m. Channel 4 carried it live for about 26 minutes. Channel 7 broke away first at around 1:10 and Channel 5 stayed with it until about 1:20. New England Cable News and SportsChannel carried the entire briefing. Surprisingly, ESPN did not.

Channel 4 was all over the gushfest, interrupting its newscasts and programming between noon and 1 p.m. with reports from the FleetCenter. During one of those spots, Lobel talked with former Celtics player and coach Tommy Heinsohn.

Hiring Pitino, Heinsohn said, will be like "taking Red Auerbach to the Space Age."

"It will be getting back to Red basketball," Heinsohn said. "Pitino is a master of Red's style. Thirteen of the 16 banners were won with this style . . . and this is going to be fun for the fans. Nobody in the coaching field will put this together as fast as Pitino."

Eddie Andelman talked with Celtics chairman of the board Paul Gaston and Pitino on WEEI Radio (850) after the conference.

Andelman asked Gaston whether he was glad to receive some decent press at last.

"It will end," Gaston deadpanned.

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