Celtics Ready to Play 50 Games in 90

February 7, 1999

Celtics Ready to Play 50 Games in 90

Days By all accounts, the Celtics are not among the elite NBA teams, but their pressing, up-tempo style could prove troublesome for opponents during the truncated season, according to NBC analyst Doug Collins. By playing an unprecedented 50 games in 90 days because of the shortened season, NBA teams will have minimal time to practice. Collins said that could spell trouble for Celtics opponents, especially in Boston. TNT's Hubie Brown agreed. "Teams playing Boston must have a walk-through before the game to practice breaking the Celtics' press," said Brown. "And the team just can't go through the motions an hour before the game.

They must run their practice at full speed. Teams have to prepare for the Celtics, especially if they played the night before." NBC's Steve Jones said the Celtics could win a lot of upsets. "The problem is that the Celtics just don't have a lot of force in the middle," said Jones. "They can score a lot of points and force a lot of turnovers, but when they play more physical teams, they might be at a disadvantage." The backlash Bad news for Turner Sports, NBC, and local broadcasters of NBA games. Results from a recent poll suggest that NBA games will be a tough sell. MediaCom, Grey Advertising's independent media company, surveyed more than 1,000 people, and nearly 70 percent of respondents indicated that they will not watch pro basketball at all this season.

The backlash from the lockout apparently has reached the 18- to 24-year-old males, the core basketball demographic. Nearly half of them in the poll claimed they would watch fewer NBA telecasts this season. "Basketball fans clearly perceive the players and owners as greedy," MediaCom co-managing director Jon Mandel told the Associated Press. "In short, the danger for the NBA is the peripheral viewers, where our study shows that the NBA has suffered its greatest loss and is vulnerable." Television executives have said they expect to take a slight hit in the beginning of the season but that viewers will return in the same numbers as last year for the playoffs. Turner Sports vice president Kevin O'Malley said he was encouraged by the attendance and ratings for exhibition games in some markets, particularly New York. Madison Square Garden network earned the highest number ever for an exhibition game. "There's a lot of curiosity out there," O'Malley said. "We expect to come out reasonably well."

Strike one

Say this about Tim McCarver: He is nobody's houseboy. The New York Mets decided to replace McCarver after 16 seasons as a TV analyst with Tom Seaver. McCarver also works for Fox and is considered one of the sharpest baseball commentators in the business. He doesn't bite his tongue, regardless of who is paying his salary. His criticism of Mets coaches and players sometimes led the team's brass to shudder. Some officials even suggested that McCarver's criticism reduced ticket sales. Talk about paranoia. The Mets get a good guy with Seaver, though his journalistic standards border on lame. "I don't think there's any question that those broadcasters who broadcast for local teams, as opposed to network, have a different approach," Seaver told the New York Daily News. "And that is that the old 'homer' broadcaster to a degree is a reality and inescapable. That's going to be part of it." Put it this way. Seaver is no Sean McDonough. Critics' corner Talk about whiners. Fred Goldman was bad enough last week complaining to "Inside Edition" about ESPN's selection of O.J. Simpson as its 49th greatest athlete of the century. Now comes the American Family Association and Robert W. Peters, president of Morality in Media. Both organizations have filed complaints against Fox affiliates for running World Wrestling Federation commercials during the Super Bowl. The spot featured wrestler "Stone Cold" Steve Austin saying that the WWF offers "a nonviolent form of entertainment" as he walks through its headquarters. He then uses a folding chair to smack a passerby.

Other people go flying through glass windows. A few explosions are thrown in as well. The critical groups had the most problem with a couple locked in an embrace, with the woman's legs wrapped around the man's waist. Female wrestler Sable walks by and deadpans: "We never use sex to enhance our image." Yeah right. But Peters didn't get the joke, characterizing the spot as "one of the most vile commercials ever aired on network TV." Of course, Peters didn't actually see the commercial. The Federal Communications Commission, which handles complaints about on-air indecency, has yet to make a ruling. "The spot was tongue-in-cheek parody," WWF marketing executive Jim Byrne told the Associated Press. "Everything about it was so over-the-top that for anyone to interpret it literally is interesting. There will always be people who take themselves way too seriously who are extremely vocal."

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