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Scott Kaplan: Lakers Front Office Understands Influence of Our Show

“I don’t think that Shams and Haynes are making this up independently of each other. They don’t even work together.”

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On Monday, Shams Charania reported news that sent the basketball world into a figurative tailspin. As one of the Association’s most trusted news breakers, Charania stated that sources have told him that free agent guard Kyrie Irving has communicated with LeBron James to see if he would be willing to request a trade to the Dallas Mavericks. Irving’s idea would be to form a ‘Big Three’ featuring him, James and guard Luka Doncic. Irving and James were previously teammates on the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2014 and 2017, and Irving was spotted at Lakers playoff games over the last month.

Charania was not the only insider to report this circumstance, as it was also written about by Chris Haynes. Haynes stated that sources told Bleacher Report about Irving’s desires, but also expressed how James stated to the outlet that he is considering retiring from basketball entirely.

“Kyrie would do this,” ESPN LA 710 co-host Scott Kaplan said, “but my question really is did he do this?”

“Yeah, I believe it 100%,” replied co-host Jorge Sedano. “I don’t think that Shams and Haynes are making this up independently of each other. They don’t even work together.”

Charania and Haynes have both been in the news-breaking business for several years, and they are viewed by many basketball fans as credible sources of information. Sedano is certain that the reporters received information from people whom they consider to be legitimate sources, perhaps even Irving himself, but he continues to have some doubt about the validity of just what they were told.

“I haven’t heard from LeBron yet,” Sedano stated, “so while I believe that they got it from somebody credible, hence why they reported it, without having heard LeBron’s side of it, I’m not going to say it’s a definitive.”

NBA free agency begins on June 30. While the NBA Finals had stronger Game 1 ratings than expected by industry pundits, the chatter about Irving and James has a stronger audience appeal and has subsequently taken over the airwaves outside of Denver and Miami.

For front offices of teams that did not qualify for the Finals, offseason plans on how to build for the future are squarely in view, with everyone trying to perspicaciously foresee the sequence of events. Not every manager considers external perspectives, but Sedano and Kaplan have discovered that Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka is a regular listener of their radio program.

In an interview with the Mason & Ireland show, Pelinka said that Kaplan has good ideas and that the team is flexible to consider them. Kaplan, who was informed that Pelinka often listens to the first 45 minutes of the show, has been outspoken in expressing his disdain towards the idea of the Lakers signing Irving.

“He also understands the trendsetters that we have become,” Kaplan said of Pelinka, “and therefore that we not just have our finger on the pulse, but rather actually influence the pulse.”

Kaplan divulged that there is a fan of the show who listens to the program after the fact as a podcast and comments thereafter. He has expressed that Kaplan is “a jerk for not wanting Kyrie,” and apparently has a preference for Sedano and the others on the show. He then asked Sedano if he had seen the tweet the user sent out with a picture of a dartboard where Kaplan’s face was the bullseye. Sedano revealed he had not seen the tweet, leading Kaplan to disclose it was something he made up.

“Shams Charania had somebody tell him that Kyrie had the balls to call LeBron,” Kaplan said. “Give me a break. Give me a freakin’ break, man.” 

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Mike Evans: ‘NBA Unplugged’ is ‘Kind of a Rip Off of the Manningcast’

“Guys like Kevin Hart and Cedric, stick to entertaining because you clearly aren’t good basketball fans.”

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Mike Evans
Courtesy: Denver Sports 104.3 The Fan

The Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves took the court on Wednesday night in a matchup between the two top teams in the Western Conference. On the strength of a 41-point game by center and two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokić, the Nuggets secured the 116-107 victory and propelled themselves to the No. 1 seed in the conference. During the preceding game between the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat, ESPN2 broadcast NBA Unplugged with Kevin Hart, a new alternate broadcast that premiered earlier in the season. During the second quarter appearance from Cedric the Entertainer, there was a conversation pertaining to if Jokić should be named the league MVP for the third consecutive year.

Hart stated that the NBA cannot grant Jokić another MVP award, stating that it would not be good for the Association. The conversation continued to see if he would be allowed to win a Finals MVP award should the Nuggets qualify in the final round. Cedric the Entertainer ultimately agreed that Jokić could not garner the MVP and stated that it did not feel like he was having as much of a dominant year. Denver Sports 104.3 The Fan morning program Schlereth and Evans played the audio after reviewing a quote from Nuggets head coach Michael Malone where he expressed that he hoped the national audience would recognize the greatness of the center.

“I get a little pissy about people out there in the NBA universe who just refuse to acknowledge what’s so obvious in front of us,” co-host Mike Evans said to lead into the sound. “During the Dallas game that was broadcast earlier in the night, their NBA Unplugged, it’s kind of a rip-off of the whole Manningcast, they had Kevin Hart and Cedric the Entertainer on chopping it up about basketball; a couple of basketball experts.”

Evans went on to explain that he believes there are four reasons why people diminish Jokić and his ability to earn a third-consecutive NBA MVP award. The first of which is that he plays in a small marketplace, something that could have precipitated the comment from Nuggets head coach Michael Malone during his postgame press conference.

“I do think that if Nikola Jokić was doing what he’s been doing the last several years – if he was doing it in Boston, New York, Chicago, Philly, LA – it’d be a completely different narrative around him,” Evans said. “That’s one – Denver, sorry, just being honest.”

The second point Evans made pertained to Jokić’s style of play, much of which comes under the rim and involves setting up his teammates. Jokić is a skilled mid-range and three-point shooter as well, but he tends not to have jaw-dropping plays in this regard. As a result, Evans stated that he is not a dream for someone trying to compile a highlight package for an ESPN program. The latter two points related to the fact that he is European and white, and Evans proceeded to explain that there is prejudice, bigotry and racism in the world.

“The only guys who don’t say he’s the best player in the NBA that are NBA players are former NBA players,” co-host Mark Schlereth added. “Have you noticed that?”

In response to Schlereth, Evans stated that former point guard Gilbert Arenas has been vocal about Jokić lately, but that people who are still playing or recently retired recognize and acknowledge the prowess of the Nuggets center. He then concluded the segment by thanking Jokić for continuing to drive people crazy, but not before he delivered a parting message to Kevin Hart and Cedric the Entertainer. In fact, he began to refer to Cedric the Entertainer as “Cedric” because of what he had to say during his NBA Unplugged appearance.

“Guys like Kevin Hart and Cedric, stick to entertaining because you clearly aren’t good basketball fans,” Evans said.

ESPN, Hartbeat and Omaha Productions announced in December that NBA Unplugged with Kevin Hart was scheduled to broadcast seven episodes during the NBA season. Earlier this week, ESPN and Omaha Productions agreed to a nine-year media rights extension, extending their partnership which has included alternate broadcasts, original podcasts and content exclusive to ESPN+ since beginning their collaboration a few years prior.

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Steve ‘Sparky’ Fifer to Host Daily Show on 1250 The Fan in Milwaukee

“I’m super excited to be hosting ‘Wisconsin Sports Daily,’ and I can’t wait to talk about our favorite sports teams with our loyal listeners.”

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Logo of 1250 The Fan in Milwaukee

Steve ‘Sparky’ Fifer will host a new local weekday afternoon show on 1250 The Fan in Milwaukee station owner Audacy announced today. Wisconsin Sports Daily will air weekdays from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. CT beginning April 15. 

“I’m super excited to be hosting ‘Wisconsin Sports Daily,’ and I can’t wait to talk about our favorite sports teams with our loyal listeners,” said Fifer. “The opportunity to host great guests to add to our conversations is a plus. Let’s bring some passion back into sports talk radio in Milwaukee!”

As the first daily show since August 2022, “Wisconsin Sports Daily” will fill weekdays with discussions about Milwaukee sports, guest interviews and interactions between Fifer and his listeners.

Fifer is also the Assistant Program Director for the station and covers the Milwaukee Bucks, Green Bay Packers and Professional Bowlers Association . He has been with the station since its start in January 2005. He also helps run Audacy’s BetQL Network in other markets.

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Dan Le Batard: Stugotz Turned Down WFAN Because “He Didn’t Want to Work That Hard”

“It would have been interesting. It would have been different.”

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Stugotz
Courtesy: Meadowlark Media

Two weeks ago, WFAN host Gregg Giannotti hinted there was a “bombshell candidate” in the search for a new program director. Today, we learned officially that candidate was Jon Weiner, aka Stugotz from The Dan Le Batard Show, and he will not be taking the position.

“We talked about the bombshell program director candidate a couple of weeks ago,” Giannotti said this morning on Boomer & Gio. “Well, I can report a couple of things…The process is not over…The bombshell of the world is out…There was mutual interest on both sides, there was a lot of discussions back and forth, they really tried to make it work, creative ways to see if it could happen, it just ultimately in the end did not happen…I do know it did not work out and there is one less candidate. So now the focus has gone from bombshell to more mainstream [candidates].

“I can’t answer many questions about it…but as of right now I can only say, this is the bombshell candidate, and he is now out and his name is Stugotz. Jon Weiner was the bombshell candidate, and he loves this place, and they had a lot of discussions…but he is now out. There was a point I thought it was going to happen.”

Dan Le Batard also discussed the topic on his show this morning and made his listeners and some of his staff aware of how qualified Stugotz was for the job.

“The industry Stugotz helped build should feel flattered that he would entertain the idea of coming back to be a power broker, lazy and fat and comfortable. Boomer Esiason just got done telling Stugotz that now, unfortunately they are going to have a professional environment.

“Stugotz kind of helped invent the revolution of sports radio in Miami. Where Miami had been doing sports radio the way New York did it and Stugotz hired a whole bunch of young people and created a radio station that was doing it different entirely than the generation of people who were doing it all over the country.”

“I remember thinking to myself ‘there has to be a younger, hipper, cooler way of doing this in Miami,'” Stugotz said.

“I hope New York radio is flattered that someone who helped shape and shake this industry was willing to consider it at 50, but he didn’t want to work that hard,” Le Batard said.

“Well, that hard for that amount of money,” Stugotz replied.

So, the search continues to find the replacement for Spike Eskin who will soon be headed back to Philadelphia. Giannotti said a few weeks ago he believes Spike Eskin’s contract expires with WFAN on June 20th.

In mid-December it was announced Eskin would return to SportsRadio 94WIP in Philadelphia as afternoon drive co-host. Eskin will leave his current position, which he has held since July, 2021. At the time of that announcement, it was said Eskin would return to the WIP airwaves, on a full-time basis, once his successor at WFAN and CBS Sports Radio has been found.

As for the what if of Stugotz having taken the job, Giannotti said, “It would have been interesting. It would have been different.”

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