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Johnson Enjoys His Job

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Whether it’s hosting “Inside the NBA” or calling a Major League Baseball playoff series, Ernie Johnson makes sports broadcasting seem easy.

There has not been much joy for Orioles fans with the Birds losing the first two games of the American League Championship Series to the Kansas City Royals, and TBS delivering lackluster telecasts.

The delay of the first pitch on opening night in Baltimore because super-bright TV lights on the set of the TBS pre-game show in center field were left on was an unforgivable gaffe. And Cal Ripken’s lifeless analysis during both games has been almost as depressing as the Orioles’ play.

But as the series resumes tonight in Kansas City with Game 3, one of the few bright spots has been Johnson’s easygoing but animated play-by-play. The Turner Sports broadcaster never seems to be forcing himself on the action. Instead, he lets the game come to him at its own speed, especially in a playoff series.

“Less is always more in a playoff game,” Johnson said in an interview at Camden Yards before the start of Game 2 on Saturday. “Sometimes, you go to a regular season baseball game and you’re in Game 110 of 162, and there’s nothing riding on the game, well, you lay out [say nothing at the microphone] and you can hear a popcorn vendor. But here in a playoff game, it lends itself to saying less.”

Johnson said he tries to put himself “in the position of a fan at home” watching the game on TBS.

“I’ve done this as a baseball fan all my life watching a game on TV, and I’m saying [to the announcer], ‘Hey, take breath. You don’t need to talk all the time. I don’t need to hear you.’” Johnson said. “I want fans to live this game through the TV set. If that requires me setting the stage at certain points and re-setting it for people who are just joining us, fine.

“But when you’ve got 48,000 fans waving towels and screaming, and the graphic on the screen says, ‘Three balls and two strikes,’ you don’t have to say a lot. The pictures and the sound tell the story.”

Johnson says he learned that approach to broadcasting from his father, Ernie, a pitcher for the Boston and Milwaukee Braves and then the Baltimore Orioles from 1950 to 1959. After his major league playing career, the senior Johnson did color and play-by-play on radio and TV for the Atlanta Braves for 37 years starting in 1962, a remarkable run.

Johnson’s father died in 2011. But indicative of the bond that remains between father and son, Johnson was wearing his father’s 1957 World Series ring and 1958 National League Championship cuff links from the Milwaukee Braves on Saturday.

“I had the world’s greatest childhood. I used to hang around by the batting cage and have Hank Aaron ask me how my Little League team was doing,” Johnson said of his years growing up in Milwaukee where his father’s team — led by Aaron, the home run king — won the World Series over the New York Yankees in 1957.

“I sat in the back of the broadcast booth for ages watching my dad do his job. And not just watching how he did his job, but how he interacted with people and how he regarded his job. He felt very blessed, very lucky to be doing this. And he always told me, ‘Ernie, this game’s not about me. It’s about the people on the field. Don’t ever let the game be about you,” Johnson said.

“And that’s what I’ve always tried to do. I try to stay out of the way unless I’m really needed. I don’t need to be yapping over pictures that are conveying the electricity at Camden Yards. I don’t have to say, ‘Boy listen to this crowd.’ You’re listening to it.”

Johnson said his respect for those who play the games also shapes his relationship with the former athletes who are now his analysts — Ron Darling and Ripken in the TBS booth at baseball playoff games and Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith in the TNT studio for “Inside the NBA,” one of the liveliest sports shows on television.

“Some people say doing a studio show and doing play by play are two totally different animals,” Johnson said. “And to an extent, that’s true. But in my role, I’m still trying to engage the guys who played the game. Whether I’m in the studio or in the booth doing this, I’m trying to get Cal and Ron where they’re at their best, and I’m trying to get Kenny, Shaq and Charles where they’re at their best. And that involves asking questions on and off the air.”

Johnson said that after seeing the O’s struggle at the plate against the Royals’ bullpen Friday night, he asked Darling how he would be approaching the O’s lineup if he were still pitching.

“I was talking to Ronnie today, and I said, ‘Hey, you’re in a playoff game here and you’re looking at an Orioles’ roster that doesn’t have [Manny] Machado, doesn’t have [Matt] Wieters, doesn’t have Chris Davis. Are you looking down that lineup card [with their replacements] and saying, ‘That an out, that’s an out, that’s an out?

“And he said, ‘That’s exactly what you do. You go down the lineup and you’re looking here, you’re looking here, and you’re looking here. And this guy’s got to be oh-for-four, this guy’s got to be oh-for-three, this guy has to be hitless, too. But if I get to this guy with a base open, I’d much rather not face him.’ That’s the kind of stuff you can only get from a former pitcher like Ron Darling. And it’s my job to try and get it.”

The truth is, however, that you can only go so far in trying to get it, and then it’s up to the analysts to start delivering. That has not happened so much in the ALCS with Ripken, at least.

Even though Johnson’s been working as a professional sportscaster since his junior year at the University of Georgia in 1977, the 58-year-old announcer insisted the job still excites him.

“Don’t call it work – it’s not,” he said. “There’s something very special at this point in my life in being able to do something that my dad did for so long. It’s still very cool to be able to do this.”

For more visit the Baltimore Sun where this story was originally published

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Doug Gottlieb, Nick Wright Feud Over College Sports NIL Issues

“Gottlieb caught wind of Wright’s rant and let his disapproval be known.”

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FOX Sports hosts Doug Gottlieb and Nick Wright definitely do not see eye-to-eye when it comes to money going to college athletes.

Despite both being employed by the same company, Gottlieb, who is never afraid to voice his opinion, fired back at Wright Friday regarding his take on college football’s NIL rule in the wake of Alabama head coach Nick Saban’s claiming Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher “brought” his recruits.

On Wright’s morning show, First Things First, the colorful broadcaster had a two minute rant about how he’s happy that schools are finding workarounds under the new NIL rules implemented by the NCAA to pay the players for their name, image and likeness. He said the universities have been taking advantage of college athletes, particularly black student athletes from rough backgrounds, for years and now that the tide has shifted, people are freaking out.

“The general sports public wants extra regulations and extra rules, is keeping their thumbs on college football and basketball players because their is an undeniable and always has been an incredibly uncomfortable racial context of the guys,” Wright said. “It’s mostly young black men from mostly really tough circumstances, generating billions of dollars. Who’s sharing in that?” Wright asked.

“An overwhelmingly white administration, an overwhelmingly white coaching staff, and an overwhelmingly white non-revenue sports. How do we pay for the tennis team and golf team, ah men’s football and basketball. What do they get? A scholarship. Be happy, we pulled you out the hood. Maybe you’ll have a better life if somehow you make the league or do something with your education.”

Gottlieb caught wind of Wright’s rant and let his disapproval be known. That resulted in a back and forth between the two sports personalities on Twitter.

Gottlieb continued, claiming the NIL rule puts exceedingly high expectations on the student-athletes before ever stepping on campus and are given something without having to “earn it.”

“The sad part is this push to pay SAs before they have even played a game, taken a class or assimilated to a school sets them up for failure in their post sports career. If you have been given before you earn, where is the motivation when you get to the real world?”

Wright then took a shot at Gottlieb, saying it always feels good that his take is the complete opposite of Gottlieb’s.

The dialogue continued with Gottlieb throwing shots at Wright, calling his take “embarrassing” and mentioning how he failed to point out the educational imbalance in society during his take. Wright asked Gottlieb what are some of the other “fake racism” takes that he claims are out in the media.

Gottlieb is no stranger to conflict with his FOX Sports colleagues. Troy Aikman called his opinion on Andrew Luck’s retirement “total bullshit” in a tweet from 2019. More recently, Gottlieb got into it with Speak for Yourself co-host Emmanuel Acho after Gottlieb ripped his brother Sam’s “Top 5 QB list” on First Take. He also called out Skip Bayless for name-calling.

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Bob Cousy: ‘JJ Redick Is Untalented Using Me To Get Attention On ESPN’

“People with less talent will always try to make a name for themselves by criticizing other people and hopefully getting some attention and perhaps increasing their credibility,” Cousy said.

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Celtics legend Bob Cousy was not too happy with J.J. Redick dissing his game and credibility as an all-time great player.

During an appearance on First Take, Redick got into a fiery debate with Chris “Mad Dog” Russo about whether Chris Paul deserves to be mentioned among the best point guards in NBA history despite another disappointing exit from the playoffs. Russo claimed that Paul is “no Bob Cousy” which prompted Redick to retort, saying Cousy couldn’t even dribble with his left hand and called the players he played against, “plumbers” and “firemen.”

“Bob Cousy won championships when there were eight teams in the NBA and you had to win two playoff series,” Reddick said. “Let’s celebrate Bob Cousy in his era, but you can’t compare pre-1980 with the modern NBA.”

The 93-old Cousy made an appearance on SiriusXM Radio where he went scorched earth on Redick, basically calling the ESPN analyst “untalented” while listing some of the players that he went up against in his era.

“People with less talent will always try to make a name for themselves by criticizing other people and hopefully getting some attention and perhaps increasing their credibility,” Cousy said.

“So when you respond to something like this, you play into their hands. I won’t do that, but I will defend the firemen and the plumbers that he referenced. And I’ll just give you a few of the names of these firemen that I played with and against during those years. How about Bill Russell, the aforementioned, not too bad a player. Wilt Chamberlain, remember that guy? He wasn’t bad. I guess he must have fought fires as well. But in any event, Wilt Chamberlain.

“Still the best, in my judgment, small forward that ever played the game, a guy named Elgin Baylor. A couple of point guards that weren’t too shabby, my colleague who also had an award created [in his name], guy named Oscar Robertson, who was pound for pound the best player perhaps in the game.”

Chris Paul is a 12-time All-Star compared to Cousy’s 13 appearances.

One thing Paul and Bob Cousy do have in common is their aptitude for leadership. Cousy developed and started the NBA players union in 1954, being named its first president. Paul served in that same role from 2013-2021.

The two men also share similarities off the court. Cousy was a stanch anti-racist advocate during the civil rights era 50s and 60s, when it wasn’t all that popular to so. Paul has also spoke out on issues regarding race, working with commissioner Adam Silver to address some of the issues facing the black community.

Maybe the two have more in common than either Redick or Russo would like to admit.

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Cole Cubelic: ‘A Lot Of Media Wasn’t Prepared To Talk About Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher’

“There were multiple other messages that were attempted to be delivered by Nick Saban two nights ago that I don’t think anybody paid attention to, and I’m wondering if Jimbo paid attention to them.”

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The comments from Alabama football coach Nick Saban regarding other teams allegedly “buying” their players through the new rules pertaining to name, image and likeness (NIL) deals has set the college football world abuzz.

In his comments, Saban directly accused Texas A&M Head Coach and one of his former assistant coaches at Louisiana State University Jimbo Fisher of unreasonably using NIL deals to recruit college football players, and remarked that the system as a whole has created a fundamental disadvantage for certain programs. Additionally, he stated that Alabama has never tried to lure a player solely based on these deals; however, he left the door open to potentially having to adjust his recruitment strategy to align with the actions of his competitors around him.

Much of the college football world weighed in on the comments, but the voice everyone was waiting to hear was that of Jimbo Fisher, including McElroy and Cubic in the Morning on Jox 94.5 FM in Birmingham, Ala. On Friday morning, the program opened with show co-host Cole Cubelic reacting to the candid response given by Fisher in a news conference carried on multiple media outlets in which Fisher called Saban a “narcissist.”

“When we’ve had coaching feuds before, we’ve had guys go back and forth; we’ve had guys go at one another, sometimes in a little bit more of a subtle way; sometimes maybe a less-confrontational way,” Cubelic said. “Jimbo even said it yesterday – he’s not afraid of confrontation; he’s not worried about it.”

An aspect of what has made this discordance between two highly-accomplished and eminent coaches a story being followed across the college football landscape is the fact that it has taken place within the public sphere. When Saban appeared on SiriusXM Radio and apologized for singling out Texas A&M in his comments from earlier in the week, there was not much emotion involved, according to Cubelic. Fisher’s remarks in his press conference though, were of a completely different sentiment – and may have escalated the situation altogether.

“Debates often turn to arguments as soon as emotions become involved,” Cubelic said. “…Jimbo Fisher yesterday at 10 a.m. – that felt emotional; that felt personal, and that one had to dig deep. Jimbo Fisher said yesterday he doesn’t anticipate things are going to be repaired. I don’t see in a way that these two sort of get things back in line.”

“The bridge is burned both ways,” added show co-host Greg McElroy. “They’ll probably shake hands; do what they need to do pregame. But as far as any love lost? Nah, that’s a wrap.”

A part of this story that remains seminal when reporting or commenting on it is listening to the full extent of the comments from both Saban and Fisher on the situation so as to more effectively contextualize and comprehend the situation. Cubelic said that he did multiple interviews on different programs yesterday, and some of the interviewers, as he anticipated, had solely listened to portions of the comments, rendering them not completely prepared to have a truly pertinent discussion about the topic at hand.

“We said it here on the show yesterday morning — right out of the gate — people are going to take the Miami; the Jackson State; and the Texas A&M stuff, and they’re going to clip it and they’re going to play it and they’re going to read it and that’s all they’re going to pay attention to,” said Cubelic. “There were multiple other messages that were attempted to be delivered by Nick Saban two nights ago that I don’t think anybody paid attention to, and I’m wondering if Jimbo paid attention to them.”

Jimbo Fisher and the Texas A&M Aggies visit Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide on October 8 in a matchup that will sure to be a primary topic of discussion in the weeks and months leading to kickoff.

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