With the news coming down this week that Shaquille O'Neal would be joining the Boston Celtics, the local sports media, and especially those assigned to the Celtics beat, should've been dancing with joy.
While Shaq is nowhere near the same player he was in his prime, he is still the biggest personality in the game. His evolution as a character is nearly as remarkable as his career. Once viewed by many as an overgrown, immature child, Shaq is now this wise old sage to whom reporters to go for perspective on the league and players.
Having played against Michael Jordan, and with Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, Shaq can give a perspective like none other when it comes to comparing those four, and especially how the games of the latter two will mesh with the Miami Heat.
Shaq's previous NBA stops include Orlando, Miami and Los Angeles -- the Celtics three biggest obstacles to banner 18. He's sure to be asked plenty about those cities and franchises, and should the Celtics be good enough to come out of the East and face the Kobe-led Lakers in the NBA Finals, we may be looking at end-of-the-world type media coverage with Shaq right in the middle, despite the fact that he might only be the Celtics third string center by that point.
Shaq immediately makes the Celtics several times more fascinating, as they represent the "old guard" looking for one last shot at glory and taking down the "superfriends" of Miami, young whippersnappers that they are.
For a few minutes on Monday, I heard Tony Massarotti try and claim that the Red Sox were secretly glad that they've had so many injuries so that they didn't have to go out and make a big deal and add salary (and go deeper into the luxury tax) at the trade deadline.
When a caller (Jack from LA) challenged him, Massarotti and co-host Michael Felger went into a desperate spin-mode, trying to minimize what was actually said.
Unfortunately it is typical of the "fill the time," "push the envelope," "say anything" mentality that is sports radio in Boston.
Another example as the week went on was Jacoby Ellsbury's return. For weeks, sports radio has been critical of his slow recovery from the rib injury suffered early in the year. Playing off the frustration of the fans, the media tried to compare his recovery with others who have suffered rib injuries, tried to read into comments made by others, and basically threw stuff against the wall on a daily basis.
This week, as Ellsbury prepped for his return to the lineup, the subject turned to the type of reception that Ellsbury would get from the fans at Fenway Park. Most in the media seemed to believe strongly that the young center fielder would be booed.
That wasn't the case. Ellsbury received a nice ovation from the fans at Fenway Park, negating two full days of sports radio "discussion" crossing over both sports radio stations in town.
News and Notes:
- Sports is a copycat business, and that was shown again this week when the NBA used a prime time special on NBA TV to release its opening night and holiday schedule for the upcoming season. The full schedule will be released next week in a similar fashion. This is almost exactly how the NFL has been doing things, releasing a partial schedule, followed by the full schedule, even devoting a prime-time special to the event.
- 98.5 The Sports Hub announced this week that the that the Safety Insurance Group, Inc has renewed its exclusive title sponsorship of the New England Patriots Radio Network, continuing a relationship that began in 2007. This multi-year deal includes designation as The Exclusive Property & Casualty Insurance Company of the New England Patriots Radio Network.
- Lou Merloni continues his all-out takeover bid for title of Boston sports media king as he made his debut as a color analyst on the Red Sox radio broadcast this week, sitting alongside longtime play-by-play man Joe Castiglione.
Links of the Week:
Raise your hand if you can remember back to the mid-1990's when Barkann was the sports director and anchor for WLVI 56 here in Boston. Now he is Mr. Philadelphia sports.
Tweet of the Week:
If it is August, it must be Brett Favre on ESPN time ...