Duke fans may be sad that Mike Krzyzewski’s career fell just short of playing for a national title, but Jay Bilas doesn’t feel that way. The ESPN analyst says he felt joy after Coach K and the Blue Devils lost to the North Carolina Tar Heels in the Final Four.
It isn’t that Bilas is happy his alma mater was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament. He was just overcome with joy thinking about all that the coach had done for him.
“Everything is an abrupt ending in the NCAA Tournament,” he said, “but knowing after 42 years that would be Coach K’s last walk off the court after a Duke basketball game as head coach, you certainly felt it. But for me, I know there’s this feeling in a lot of people, a feeling of sadness, but for me, there’s a feeling of gratitude.”
Jay Bilas grew up in Los Angeles. His relationship with Coach K began when he was 17 years old. He said on ESPN, after Carolina’s victory, that he has considered the man his coach ever since.
“I’ve had in my life as Duke’s head coach for the last 40-plus years and that’s been an extraordinary blessing,” Bilas said. “I honestly don’t know where I’d be without him in my life. I probably wouldn’t have gone to law school. He greased the skids for that. He helped me get into broadcasting, cuz he knew it was something I was interested in doing. I’ve had him as a coach, a mentor, and a friend for all these years.”
According to Jay Bilas, the team that lost on Saturday night got a much better basketball coach than he had at Duke. That is just the product of experience and time.
Bilas noted that even though he was the only one with a microphone in that moment, he knows other former Duke players that are broadcasters would say the same sorts of things about Coach K.
Al Michaels: Condensed Prep Time For Thursday Night Football ‘A Downside’
“It’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us.”
There were bound to be unexpected hiccups and unintended consequences as Al Michaels moved to Thursday Night Football with Amazon Prime Video.
He told The Boston Globe Thursday that one of the downsides of the week’s schedule is less prep time with the teams playing in the game.
“When we go to see the teams, it’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us,” Michaels said. “And all the time I’ve been doing this, I’ve built some great relationships with coaches and players and GMs and owners and you name it, and I don’t get that much time to spend with them anymore. That’s a downside part of it for me. Some of the best stories you get come from those relationships.”
Michaels has raised eyebrows this season while not being shy about his disdain for some poor matchups early in the schedule. However, he now understands that there are quality games as the season approaches its close.
“The schedule was a little leaky with the Carolina-Atlanta game and a couple of other games that we’ve had, but now we’re positioned for a nice run down the stretch,” said Michaels.
The 78-year-old was also asked how he remains energetic and passionate for the job he’s held for so long.
The games are exciting. I love sports. You don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s no script. And unscripted television is the greatest.”
Jimmy Pitaro: Reaching Younger Audience A Priority for ESPN
“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience. As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”
Many in the media industry have voice concern that millennials and Gen Z aren’t consuming traditional media outlets like previous generations. ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said it’s a priority for the network.
“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience,” Pitaro said, quoted by Morning Consult sports business reporter Mark J. Burns. “As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”
Pitaro made the comments at Sports Business Journal’s Media Innovators conference Wednesday. It is a continuation of comments he has made in recent years.
In 2018, Pitaro said at ESPN’s upfront “I think we are doing a fantastic job serving the sports fanatic,” said Pitaro. “What about the casual sports customer? Are we doing all we can to serve him or her?”.
In 2019, Pitaro said it was “all hands on deck” to reach a younger audience and women. “We have to be open and go to where our customers are,” he said in regards to reaching younger viewers on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.
Earlier this year, Pitaro added that ESPN won’t be leaving linear television anytime soon.
“What I will tell you is that as I sit here right now, that business is still incredible,” Pitaro said. “We serve the sports fan anyway and at any time. I know there are a lot of people that still want ESPN in that traditional ecosystem.”
Don Mattingly Joining Blue Jays Staff After YES Network Courtship
The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.
The New York Yankees regional sports network can take Don Mattingly off its talent wish list. Mattingly was announced Wednesday as a bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays starting in 2023.
But Mattingly told Andrew Marchand of The New York Post this week that he had another opportunity in the works but wouldn’t elaborate.
YES also has been considering luring Yankees legend and Hall of Famer Derek Jeter into broadcasting. But no formal talks have taken place.
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He works full-time as a multimedia specialist at the Virginia State Corporation Commission, while also putting in part-time work for News Radio WRVA and 910 The Fan in Richmond. Additionally, you can find Jordan contributing 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 and ABC 8News. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.