Prior to Sunday’s NCAA Tournament game between No. 10 seed Miami (Florida) and No. 2 Auburn from the Midwest Regional in Greenville, South Carolina, CBS Sports had some fun with each school’s most famous alumni.
How would Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Charles Barkley match up? CBS presented the Tournament Central studio crew and TV viewers with a tale of the tape.
With measurements for each combatant making this appear an even contest, Barkley boasted of how well he matched up against Johnson.
“I tried to tell you guys, I’m the Rock’s stunt double in the movies,” Barkley said. “We got bodies just alike.”
If that was true and Barkley performed as a stunt double for Johnson, there would be some corporate synergy in the two working together on a project. According to IMDB, Johnson’s next live-action theatrical film is scheduled to be Black Adam, based on the DC Comics superhero. DC Comics and Warner Brothers, the studio producing the movie, are both WarnerMedia (soon to be Warner Bros. Discovery) properties, as is Turner Sports, Barkley’s TV employer.
Unfortunately for Barkley, Auburn was decisively defeated by Miami, 79-61, advancing to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 and a match-up versus Iowa State. He will not be going shirtless to celebrate his alma mater’s victory.
Sir Charles might take some consolation in a 2013 photo taken with Johnson (and Inside the NBA colleague Shaquille O’Neal) in which the Hall of Famer appears to tower over the global movie star. That photo was taken following a bench press competition promoting Johnson’s film Pain & Gain in which Barkley defeated O’Neal.
Ian Casselberry is a sports media columnist for BSM. He has previously written and edited for Awful Announcing, The Comeback, Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation. You can find him on Twitter @iancass or reach him by email at [email protected].
ESPN Announces Plans for 17th Annual ‘V Week’
“Jim Valvano gave his legendary speech to never give up in the fight against cancer, and to this day, ESPN is committed to that by continuing to raise awareness and funds for the V Foundation…”
One of the most inspirational weeks of the sports calendar returns for its 17th year with ESPN and the V Foundation’s annual “V Week,” a weeklong awareness campaign to support cancer research and celebration of the life of former Iona and North Carolina State men’s basketball coach Jim Valvano.
Beginning Tuesday and continuing through Sunday, Dec. 10. ESPN will drive awareness for the V Foundation and the legacy of Jim Valvano throughout its programming across platforms to encourage donations to fund life-saving cancer research. One hundred percent of all funds raised by ESPN will be directed to cancer research.
This year’s V Week will feature an array of storytelling around cancer research and survivorship, and highlight iconic speeches on the importance of cancer research from Valvano, Dick Vitale, Robin Roberts, and Stuart Scott.
“Thirty years ago, Jim Valvano gave his legendary speech to never give up in the fight against cancer, and to this day, ESPN is committed to that by continuing to raise awareness and funds for the V Foundation to support cancer research,” said Kevin Martinez, vice president of ESPN Corporate Citizenship. “From annual events such as the ESPN Roadblock and Jimmy V Classic to new initiatives such as the strategic collaboration with the NHL around Hockey Fights Cancer, collectively, we’re bringing more fans together to support the fight against cancer.”
ESPN Radio will host a day-long takeover across its programming starting Nov. 28 with simulcasts on ESPN2. Additional guests will join Unsportsmanlike (6 – 10 a.m. ET), #Greeny (10 a.m. – 12 p.m. ET), Carlin vs. Joe (12 – 3 p.m. ET), Freddie and Harry (4 – 7 p.m. ET), Amber and Ian (7 – 10 p.m. ET) and GameNight (10 p.m. – 1 a.m. ET) to share their uplifting stories of hope and support in the fight against cancer.
ESPN and its sports league partners will also advocate for the V Foundation and cancer research through their own initiatives. V Week will feature a crossover with Hockey Fights Cancer (HFC) to unite the hockey community in support of cancer patients and their families. The NHL will have a league-wide moment across its games and its social media platforms paying tribute to HFC Month on Nov. 30, when the New York Islanders face the Carolina Hurricanes. Additionally, ESPN will highlight HFC on Nov. 28, when the Philadelphia Flyers host their HFC Night against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Also on the docket are collaborations with the NFL and NCAA college basketball. In conjunction with the NFL’s “My Cause, My Cleats” initiative, Josh Paschal of the Detroit Lions will dedicate his cleats to the V Foundation to show his passion for cancer research. Pascal has been a supporter of the V Foundation since his diagnosis at the University of Kentucky. Lastly, the 29th annual Jimmy V Classic will tip off, featuring more men’s and women’s college basketball teams than ever before.
“V Week allows us to spotlight the importance of cancer research each year across the entire sports landscape,” said Shane Jacobson, V Foundation CEO. “There is no more fitting way to close out the year – especially the V Foundation’s 30th anniversary – where we granted the most in any single year in our history (nearly $43 million), than alongside our founding partner, ESPN. This team has helped bring Jim Valvano’s vision of Victory Over Cancer to life since day one, and we are grateful for their continued commitment to lifesaving research.”
ESPN has helped raise nearly $200 million for the V Foundation in the fight to end cancer. For more information, visit the V Foundation’s website at v.org. Direct donations can be made at v.org/donate.
ESPN, TNT to Collaborate on NBA In-Season Tournament Semifinals Coverage
The two networks will implement talent from pregame shows and live game broadcasts on other coverage throughout the day.
ESPN and TNT will be collaborating on game and studio coverage during the NBA In-Season Tournament semifinals on Thursday, Dec. 7 from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nev., the two networks announced on Tuesday afternoon. The two entities will each air one semifinal game during the day, utilizing commentators from both networks within the coverage ahead of the championship matchup, which takes place from the same location two days later and will be televised on ABC.
ESPN will present the 5 p.m. EST/2 p.m. PST matchup with play-by-play announcer Mike Breen, analyst Doris Burke and reporter Lisa Salters on the call. Joining them will be NBA on TNT analyst Reggie Miller, who will provide additional color commentary throughout the matchup. At 9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PST, play-by-play announcer Kevin Harlan, analyst Candace Parker and reporter Allie LaForce will be on the broadcast for the second semifinal game. The team will be joined by ESPN NBA analyst Doc Rivers, who will add his insights and perspectives as an analyst during the game.
Pregame coverage will also feature crossover between ESPN’s NBA Countdown and TNT’s Inside the NBA, beginning on the pregame show for the earlier game. NBA Countdown will feature host Malika Andrews, insider Adrian Wojnarowski and analysts Stephen A. Smith, Michael Wilbon and Bob Myers. The panel will be joined by Ernie Johnson, Kenny “The Jet” Smith, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal for an extended segment within the program. Later in the day, the NBA Countdown cast will appear on TNT ahead of the game telecast, with both program sets being situated outside of the arena. Smith and Wilbon will remain on the air with Inside the NBA for postgame coverage following the second game.
The two networks are in the penultimate season with broadcast rights to the NBA as a variety of outlets express interest in the property. The Walt Disney Company and Warner Bros. Discovery will have an exclusive 45-day negotiating window with the NBA starting on March 9, 2024 where the league and networks are able to begin discussing new rights deals.
John Dickinson Exits 95.7 The Game
“The longtime Bay Area sports radio reporter and host announced his departure on social media.”
A voice familiar to Bay Area sports fans will no longer be heard on 95.7 The Game. Reporter John Dickinson announced on Monday that it was his last day at the station.
Dickinson posted a note on X on Monday expressing his gratitude for getting to be at 95.7 The Game for well over a decade covering sports.
“Who would have thought I’d have been fortunate enough to cover two World Series or three Super Bowls or SIX NBA Finals?” Dickinson wrote. “They even let me pretend to be a hockey reporter during the 2016 Stanley Cup Final. Through the countless hours of radio shows and update shifts, and the long days and nights of traveling to cover Warriors and 49ers games all across the country, it’s been a pleasure to interact with some of the most passionate and knowledgeable (and sometime neurotic) fans in sports.”
He continued that he’s thankful for the chance to develop such great relationships with other reporters on the various Bay Area pro sports beats. Dickinson announced that he’s excited for what’s next.
According to sources, that next opportunity will be with KNBR.
“Grateful for the friendships that have blossomed with co-workers and other reporters along all the great beats in the Bay Area,” he wrote. “From my early days almost exclusively on the Raiders/Warriors/Giants to now primarily the 49ers/Warriors. Beyond excited for what’s next, but that’s tomorrow’s news.”
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He’s a multimedia journalist and communicator who works at the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond. Jordan also contributes occasional coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly, WRIC-TV 8News and Audacy Richmond. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.