Stuart Scott recently conducted a chat on ESPN.com in which he discussed his feelings about LeBron James and the role ESPN played in the NBA player’s move from Cleveland to Miami.
I excerpted a selection of Scott’s comments from the chat and responded to his remarks in bold.
Scott: As a free agent LBJ owed Cleveland nothing. That’s not disrespect, it’s just his right based on rules and bylaws established before he set foot in the NBA. Narcissistic? Star athlete has big decision, ubiquitous sports network is there to cover it.
Me: ESPN didn’t cover it, ESPN created it. Without ESPN, “The Decision” wouldn’t have existed.
From what we now know, the prospect of such an ESPN-enabled production may have been the main reason why James dragged out his choice for so long - causing such acute consternation to the people of Cleveland.
Scott: That’s what we do. … I am proud of the dozens of people who worked on that show. And for all the criticism it received, a 7.6 cable rating is ginormous. Read more…
On Feb. 4, ESPN PR guy Mac Nwulu Tweeted: “ESPN Stu Scott, fitness buff, arrived Miami for SB XLIV after 1wk MMA training under FOX Sport’s Jay Glazer. No plans to fight pro!!”
Pro or no pro, Stuart Scott and Jay Glazer in the Octagon? Is there a sports fan alive who wouldn’t fork over 49.99 to see that? (Dude, I can dream, can’t I?)
To indulge my curiousity, I called Glazer and Scott today to get the downlow, and it turns out Nwulu’s Tweet was indeed true. Glazer, who trains NFL players with MMA legend Randy Couture during the NFL offseason, told me today that he recently trained Scott for a day in Ft. Lauderdale.
As noted by NEWSDAY’s Neil Best today, the Tiger Woods story has appeared on the front cover of the NEW YORK POST 16 straight days, three short of the record set by the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
That’s unimaginable to most, considering television and newspapers are far from the fuel line for the Woods saga. Websites like TMZ.com, RadarOnline, this one and many others not only ignited the biggest sports story of our lifetime, but continue to legitimately advance a complex plot that has the world population obsessed. (Just ask the CEOs of Google and Yahoo.)
Online-only investigative reporting is almost exclusively what has driven Woods to acknowledge his infidelity to the world - forcing all mainstream sports and news outlets to not only recognize the story but also give it a reluctant follow.
The Tiger Woods story is our best example yet about how the balance of media distribution power is shifting. Used to be that a story could only get tidal traction through the so-called legitimate media gatekeepers on television and in print.
But this story is prompted by hustling, bare bones blog outlets free from the tentacles of incestuous financial arrangements with advertisers and the PGA Tour and worries over future access to Woods himself. Read more…
The Worldwide Leader dropped the bomb around midnight that Terrell Owens, whose given name could be Mercurial T. Owens, has been let go by the Dallas Cowboys. Clearly, anticipated chemistry issues with Jon Kitna forced the move. Kitna is on the record as preferring Sweet’n'Low while Owens is all about the Equal.
(”Ha ha ha ha… pack your stuff.”)
On SportsCenter last night, ESPN’s Michael Smith reported there would be significant financial penalties for the Cowboys to cut Owens as much of his 4-year, $34 million contract signed less than a year ago is guaranteed cash. We hope this means Owens will continue to have at least twenty million reasons to come back to camp this summer.
(Note to ESPN: Neil Everett is monumentally awful at ad-libbing. Never tell us how cool it is to be the one on the dais when news breaks. When a big story hits, break the glass on Bob Ley. Surprisingly good: Stuart Scott. Also, how did Ed Werder not break this story?)
(Note 2 to ESPN: Please remind Keyshawn Johnson that Charlie Manson comparisons may be a bit dated, not to mention a little racy.)
In brighter news, the Cleveland Cavaliers claimed the first musical chair in the Longines Symphonette that is the NBA playoffs with a 91-73 triumph at home against Milwaukee. The Cavaliers move to 48-12, which is exactly how LeBron James hopes his Knicks career starts in two years. (We kid, Cleveland, we kid.)
Then, when the Van Gundy with the honest living fussed about the sad little move, there was a Shaqhissy, captured on Miami’s 790 THE TICKET by Jorge Sedano and reproduced below in the popular MP3 format:
None of this, of course, helped the Suns win in Orlando or Miami. The Suns dropped their second Florida game in the “He Hate Me” series of former O’Neal teams last night in Miami, 135-129. No defense in here anywhere.
We feel compelled to note again that Shaq’s a complicated fellow. We recently saw him encourage his kids post-game to say hello to a fragile 7′ 6″ teen that sat near courtside after being featured on the local news the previous night. This was done under the stands with little fanfare, maybe a few dozen witnesses and none from the media.
When his young son was too shy to do so and tried to hide under Dad’s massive jacket, Shaq gently insisted until his son shook the adolescent hand. Shaq could relate to the teen’s condition better than nearly anyone on the planet and made sure that young man felt welcome. Also, Shaq showed his own son the importance of graciousness.
Shaq makes that gesture damned near every day of his life, often without credit. He’s also the same man that made the comments to the media above. He may have been compared to a meteorite by this author yesterday, but not in the most important way: Shaquille O’Neal is a force of nature. Try to comprehend him at your own risk.
Same for Terrell Owens. Same for LeBron James. Maybe not so much for Jon Kitna.
The biggest news out of the NHL trade deadline: Olli Jokinen moves from Calgary to Phoenix for a pretty bauble or three, allowing him to work for a team that has a half-decent chance of being solvent next season.
Have you ever been watching “Baseball Tonight” or any other studio show on ESPN and wondered if the anchors actually liked each other? I mean, I know I can’t stand most of the talking heads ESPN puts on the air so you have to figure there are times when Mike Ditka wants to reach across the desk and punch Stuart Scott right in his lazy eye when he says “Boo-ya!”
The one ESPN personality who I think has probably had it worse than anybody else is Karl Ravech. As host of Baseball Tonight he’s had to work with his fair share of idiots. Sure, dealing with Harold Reynolds wasn’t too bad — well, except for Harold’s insistence on post-show hugs — and Peter Gammons is an icon, but aside from those two there are a lot more Steve Phillips and John Kruks sitting behind that desk. There has to be occasions where Ravvy just wants to choke Krukker after he says something that makes no real sense, but if there have been, Karl isn’t talking.
You know, for everything negative said about Stuart Scott — that he’s the embodiment of ESPN’s boo-yah-ness; that he’s doing a bad version of himself these days; that he’s too tight with the players he reports on — the man does have a dulcet voice. Smooth, soft … it’s the sort of voice you can imagine working well in late-night karaoke. And guess what? You’d be right.
Dan Steinberg of DC SPORTS BOG was as cool as the other side of the pillow in wrangling up a quick Q&A with the erudite ESPN anchor. Steinberg saddled up to Scott during Wednesday’s Earl Woods Memorial Pro-Am, and teed up a few questions for Stuart.
First and foremost: Does Stuart still shy away from sports blogs?