The sports television industry honored its own at the 33rd annual Sports Emmy Awards ceremonies, held last week in Manhattan.
Shaquille O’Neal, who retired from the NBA after 20 seasons and joined Turner Sports this past fall as an NBA analyst, was one of the presenters. Shaq told me that he and his business partner, former New Jersey Devils owner Ray Chambers, are seeking to purchase an NBA franchise that would play at the Prudential Center in Newark, now that the Nets have officially relocated to Brooklyn. He admitted there are plenty of obstacles, however. “We are probably going to have to compensate the Knicks, the Nets, and even the Philadelphia 76ers if we are to get an NBA team in Newark,” O’Neal said matter of factly.
Astoria native Bob Costas won his ninth Emmy Award for best studio host. In a delightfully comic moment, Dan Patrick, who must feel like Charlie Brown tying to kick the football that Lucy always pulls away from him since he has always lost to Costas in this category, came on stage to accept the Emmy for him. Dan poked fun at himself and his Emmy drought and drew the loudest laughs of the night. Afterwards Bob told me that they had arranged it so that the “loser” would come up to the stage and accept it for the winner.
Dan Patrick spoke to me about his old ESPN Sportscenter partner Keith Olbermann, the butt of some zingers at the White House Correspondents Dinner. “I haven’t spoke to Keith since he was fired by Current TV but he is too talented not to work again,” Patrick said.
Fox’s Joe Buck won the Emmy for best play-by-play announcer. In his acceptance speech he spoke eloquently about the fear that his career was over when he came down with vocal chord problems last year. Like all of us, Buck caught a cold that caused him some hoarseness. As frequently happens to those who use their voices a lot in their jobs, such as teachers, he was unable to recover his normal speaking tone even after his cold was long gone.
Former NBC Sports CEO Dick Ebersol, who retired last year, told me he is enjoying his leisure time and is relieved that he won’t have to make a speech to the ad-buying community at next week’s Upfront presentation, when the TV networks announce their fall lineups.
The highlight of the night was when 88-year-old Jack Whitaker received the lifetime achievement award. Whitaker, like his predecessor at CBS, Heywood Hale Broun, was a master sports essayist, and my dad and I would watch the CBS Evening News on Saturdays in the late 1960s and early ’70s just for his features.
Sadly, the literate sports essay on television has gone the way of the typewriter.