James Worthy steeled himself, then offered a blunt assessment.
The Lakers, in the midst of a losing season, had reached their nadir with a 48-point loss to the Clippers. The Hall of Famer glared into the camera and did what many other analysts would have.
He blamed the coach.
“(Mike) D’Antoni’s got to get into these guys a little bit more,” said Worthy on that night nearly two years ago. “He’s got to make them really a little bit more responsible, maybe call guys out.”
Worthy, an analyst with Time Warner Cable SportsNet, said the Lakers’ problems could be traced to the locker room, that they should practice only defense and that an offense focused on pace of play and 3-pointers simply wasn’t working.
Such frank analysis was welcomed by fed-up fans begging for a change on the bench. It’s also the sort of criticism from which Byron Scott, a teammate of Worthy’s from 1983-93, has recently been spared during an 11-43 season.
Worthy is one of four former “Showtime”-era Lakers navigating the potentially murky waters of analyzing a team coached by a close friend.
While sports analysts frequently call games involving former teammates, coaches and rivals, the dynamic gets more complicated when the analysts are day-to-day observers of the team.
Former Kings guard-turned-analyst Bobby Jackson turned heads last week when he called for a coaching change in Sacramento.
Scott has been under a microscope since he was hired in 2014 after D’Antoni resigned at the conclusion of a 27-55 season.
In Scott’s tenure, the Lakers are 32-104.
Bashing Scott is fashionable among fans and he has been widely panned by national media. He appears at or near the top of any list of coaches on the hot seat.
The Lakers are not believed to be considering a mid-season coaching change, but it is a results-driven league. Five NBA coaches have been fired since the start of the season, including former Lakers guard Derek Fisher with the improving New York Knicks.
Worthy is aware of a perception that he has taken it easier on Scott than he did his predecessor
He even agrees.
“People have opinions based on Byron and I being close,” Worthy said after a recent Lakers practice, “but that has nothing to do with it.”
Instead, he argued, D’Antoni’s Lakers were built to win with Dwight Howard, Steve Nash and a healthy Kobe Bryant.
“I had an opportunity to be more critical then,” Worthy said. “But I see what Byron’s doing. I’m in the film room, I see the practices, I see the guys buying into it. They just haven’t been able to transfer it out to the court yet.”
When Scott made the unpopular decision to move D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle out of the starting lineup on Dec. 6, Worthy initially recoiled with surprise.
By the end of that night’s broadcast, he had come around.
“I think Byron’s right,” Worthy said. “Sometimes you have to allow younger players to watch from the bench.”
Video of the segment was posted on the network’s Facebook page. The first comment, from a user named Lynne No, said, “James Worthy was always so candid about D’Antoni. Where’s your truth now James regarding Byron?”
When Worthy has called out the Lakers this season, he has typically focused on players rather than the coaching.
“We expect effort and we criticize (the team) for that,” Worthy said. “We criticize them for points in the paint. But for decisions made by Byron right now, going through this experimental growth period, there’s nothing to be critical of.”
To read the rest of this article visit the OC Register where it was originally published
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
FanDuel TV Strikes Deal With ONE Championship Martial Arts
“We’ve long respected the content the ONE Championship team is producing and are looking forward to bringing their action to our audience through FanDuel TV and FanDuel+.”
FanDuel TV and ONE Championship Martial Arts have struck a deal that will see the MMA, Muay Thai, kickboxing, and submission grappling series air weekly events on the newly launched channel.
“We’re eager to continue expanding the variety of content we’re offering at FanDuel TV to introduce our audience to emerging sports,” said FanDuel Chief Commercial Officer Mike Raffensperger. “We’ve long respected the content the ONE Championship team is producing and are looking forward to bringing their action to our audience through FanDuel TV and FanDuel+.”
ONE Championship is a top-five global sports property for digital viewership and engagement according to Nielsen measurements.
“We are thrilled to join the FanDuel TV lineup and give our passionate U.S. audience yet another way to engage with ONE Championship,” said ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong. “Having a quality partner in FanDuel will help raise the profile of our company in the region and provide their viewers with action-packed martial arts events like they have never seen before.”
Bob Costas Re-Lives First Announcing Assignment For NBC
“My biography usually says I began with them in 1980, but technically the first time I was on the air with them was in December 1979.”
Legendary sports broadcaster Bob Costas appeared on KNBR’s Tolbert & Copes Thursday to discuss the death of Baseball Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry. But before the conversation turned to the recently departed pitcher, the show asked Costas about what he has announced that would surprise someone. He reminisced about his first time on the air for NBC.
“My very first assignment for NBC, my biography usually says I began with them in 1980, but technically the first time I was on the air with them was in December 1979,” Costas recounted. “There was a program on NBC then called Sports World. It was an anthology series that was their answer to the gold standard, ABC’s Wide World of Sports.
“So they traveled the globe, like Wide World of Sports did. So they sent me, wearing a red NBC jacket, to Tokyo to cover a sumo wrestling tournament with seven-time world power-lifting champion Larry Pacifico as my color man. Now, this is all the Japanese I learned as we came on the air: ‘Minasan kon’nichwa watashinoamaeha Bob Costas’, which means ‘Hello everyone, my name is Bob Costas’. If ever there was typecasting, when they sat and looked at their roster of announcers and went ‘Who should we send to the sumo wrestling? It’s gotta be Costas, who’s entire body weight would constitute one meal for the sumo wrestling champion.”
Costas departed NBC Sports in 2019 after 40 years with the network, announcing MLB, NBA, and the Olympics, in addition to his work with the network’s sumo wrestling coverage.
Matt Leinart, Alex Smith Make Wager Over Pac-12 Championship Game
“I gotta be honest with you: I’m not that nervous. I know that sounds kind of arrogant and confident.”
FOX Sports analyst Matt Leinart and ESPN analyst Alex Smith have made a friendly wager over the upcoming Pac-12 Championship Game.
USC, Leinart’s alma mater, is slated to play Utah, where Smith attended, in the game Friday evening on FOX from Las Vegas.
The two agreed to don the other player’s jersey. “At least it will be 11,” Smith said, noting he and Leinart both wore the number during their playing days.
“I gotta be honest with you: I’m not that nervous,” Leinart said when presented with the offer. “I know that sounds kind of arrogant and confident.” Smith jokingly responded by calling USC “Free Agent University”. He added he would overnight Leinart a jersey to ensure he had one if the Utes were victorious.
Garrett Searight is the Editor of Barrett Sports Media and Barrett News Media. He previously was the Program Director and Afternoon Co-Host on 93.1 The Fan in Lima, OH. He is also a play-by-play announcer for TV and Radio broadcasts in Western Ohio.