James Worthy steeled himself, then offered a blunt assessment.
The Lakers, in the midst of a losing season, had reached their nadir with a 48-point loss to the Clippers. The Hall of Famer glared into the camera and did what many other analysts would have.
He blamed the coach.
“(Mike) D’Antoni’s got to get into these guys a little bit more,” said Worthy on that night nearly two years ago. “He’s got to make them really a little bit more responsible, maybe call guys out.”
Worthy, an analyst with Time Warner Cable SportsNet, said the Lakers’ problems could be traced to the locker room, that they should practice only defense and that an offense focused on pace of play and 3-pointers simply wasn’t working.
Such frank analysis was welcomed by fed-up fans begging for a change on the bench. It’s also the sort of criticism from which Byron Scott, a teammate of Worthy’s from 1983-93, has recently been spared during an 11-43 season.
Worthy is one of four former “Showtime”-era Lakers navigating the potentially murky waters of analyzing a team coached by a close friend.
While sports analysts frequently call games involving former teammates, coaches and rivals, the dynamic gets more complicated when the analysts are day-to-day observers of the team.
Former Kings guard-turned-analyst Bobby Jackson turned heads last week when he called for a coaching change in Sacramento.
Scott has been under a microscope since he was hired in 2014 after D’Antoni resigned at the conclusion of a 27-55 season.
In Scott’s tenure, the Lakers are 32-104.
Bashing Scott is fashionable among fans and he has been widely panned by national media. He appears at or near the top of any list of coaches on the hot seat.
The Lakers are not believed to be considering a mid-season coaching change, but it is a results-driven league. Five NBA coaches have been fired since the start of the season, including former Lakers guard Derek Fisher with the improving New York Knicks.
Worthy is aware of a perception that he has taken it easier on Scott than he did his predecessor
He even agrees.
“People have opinions based on Byron and I being close,” Worthy said after a recent Lakers practice, “but that has nothing to do with it.”
Instead, he argued, D’Antoni’s Lakers were built to win with Dwight Howard, Steve Nash and a healthy Kobe Bryant.
“I had an opportunity to be more critical then,” Worthy said. “But I see what Byron’s doing. I’m in the film room, I see the practices, I see the guys buying into it. They just haven’t been able to transfer it out to the court yet.”
When Scott made the unpopular decision to move D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle out of the starting lineup on Dec. 6, Worthy initially recoiled with surprise.
By the end of that night’s broadcast, he had come around.
“I think Byron’s right,” Worthy said. “Sometimes you have to allow younger players to watch from the bench.”
Video of the segment was posted on the network’s Facebook page. The first comment, from a user named Lynne No, said, “James Worthy was always so candid about D’Antoni. Where’s your truth now James regarding Byron?”
When Worthy has called out the Lakers this season, he has typically focused on players rather than the coaching.
“We expect effort and we criticize (the team) for that,” Worthy said. “We criticize them for points in the paint. But for decisions made by Byron right now, going through this experimental growth period, there’s nothing to be critical of.”
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Lauren Shehadi: Ernie Johnson Is The Model For Studio Hosts
“To me, he’s the greatest in-studio host. What he does best is facilitate greatness.”
In addition to her job at MLB Network being a host on MLB Central, Lauren Shehadi is hosting TBS’s Tuesday night baseball coverage each week with Jimmy Rollins, Curtis Granderson, and Pedro Martinez. The Tuesday night games are new for Turner Sports this year after doing only Sunday games during the regular season in addition to the network’s postseason coverage.
Shehadi was a guest on The Kyle Koster Show this week and she was asked what the goal was for her with the MLB on TBS Tuesday broadcasts. She takes a lot of inspiration from what she sees on Inside The NBA on TNT.
“I always think about Ernie Johnson in the same building. To me, he’s the greatest in-studio host. What he does best is facilitate greatness. He gets the most out of Shaq and Kenny [Smith] and Charles [Barkley]. If there’s no ego involved, it’s all about how the show can be so great.
“You look at him and you think how can I be like that? You want to be authentic and be yourself, but in the sense of getting the best out of your guys and girls that you talk to every day. That was my goal going in, Be authentic.”
Shehadi said she gets to spend a lot of time with Johnson and the rest of the Turner Sports crew. Tuesday nights tend to be something of a corporate family reunion.
“On Tuesday nights, we all sit in a room and we all watch NBA, MLB, and NHL when it’s on. We get Shaq’s reaction to Sandy Alcantara’s slider in real-time. What we see from Inside The NBA is when they do demos. When they get up and walk and they are casual and they do little bits, that’s what we try to take to our show, but we want it to feel authentic.”
When Shehadi isn’t hosting Turner Sports’ baseball coverage, she is a part of MLB Central every weekday on MLB Network with Robert Flores and Mark DeRosa. On that show, the goal for her is how to make baseball relatable to everyone:
“That’s the sweet spot of MLB Central. No question is silly. Nobody is smarter than the other. We laugh at ourselves. We laugh at each other. It is just a fun 4 hours, grab your coffee, let’s talk the game, let’s laugh because life is short and baseball is fun.”
AT&T Sportsnet’s Kelsey Wingert Shows Off Stitches After Being Drilled Line Drive
“The veteran reporter is expected to get married in June. Doctors are “hoping” the scar doesn’t effect her big day.”
Baseball reporters at the regional level have some of the toughest jobs in all of sports. Not only do they cover each for all 162 games, but there’s always the potential for getting drilled by a foul ball.
While all MLB ball clubs have expanded their netting this season to protect fans sitting close to the field, Rockies sideline reporter Kelsey Wingert suffered a nasty injury via a foul ball earlier this week.
A scary incident took place on Monday’s outing against the Rockies and San Francisco Giants at Coors Field in Denver. In the ninth inning, Giants outfielder Austin Slater hit a foul ball off Daniel Bard, with the ball heading straight to the dugout, right where Wingert was standing while reporting for AT&T Sportsnet.
After getting attended to by the Rockies medical staff and walking it off, giving fans a “thumbs up,” Wingert ended up having to go to the hospital where she received multiple stitches to her forehead.
The 29-year-old reporter took to Twitter on Wednesday to express her gratitude towards the Rockies organization and AT&T Sportsnet general manager David Woodman, who along with his wife Paula, stayed by her side at the hospital.
“I had a CT scan to make sure there was no internal bleeding or fractures and all came back clear. Thank God,” Wingert said on Twitter Wednesday. “The stitches will have to come out in a week. I’m very lucky it wasn’t worse. It was just really scary and bummed me out given the circumstances.”
You would think this was the first time Wingert got hit by a ball but back in 2018 while working for Fox Sports and the Atlanta Braves she was struck by a foul ball while standing near a camera past the Braves dugout, resulting in a fractured eye socket.
Wingert retweeted a photo taken of her black eye after returning home where she made light of what could’ve been an awful occurrence.
While recovering from her wound, Wingert will be taking a few games off. The veteran reporter is expected to get married in June. Doctors are “hoping” the scar doesn’t effect her big day.
Greg Olsen To Partner With Kevin Burkhardt For Super Bowl LVII
“Last season was the first Burkhardt and Olsen worked together. They largely won rave reviews.”
The deal isn’t done yet, but Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reports that Greg Olsen is on his way to joining Kevin Burkhardt in the top NFL booth at FOX. Although Tom Brady will take over that role after he retires and leaves the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Olsen will spend at least this season on FOX’s A-Team.
Last season was the first Burkhardt and Olsen worked together. They largely won rave reviews.
Earlier this year, the former Panther told The Mac Attack on WFNZ in Charlotte that he was disappointed he didn’t get to call a postseason game. He will more than make up for that in 2023. As Burkhardt’s partner, Olsen is in line to be the analyst for Super Bowl LVII.
Marchand writes that we could get a taste of what is to come in February. He speculates that if the Buccaneers are not in the Super Bowl, it is possible Tom Brady could make his FOX debut, either in the booth alongside Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen or as part of the network’s studio show.
Now, FOX has to make a decision about it’s number 2 NFL booth. According to Marchand, Drew Brees is a candidate to be the analyst. Adam Amin and Joe Davis have emerged as candidates for the play-by-play role.