Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving like to gripe.
With the media winds swirling around them, the two (as of now Nets) superstars can’t complain about their lack of national TV appearances this season. The national sked was made while they were — very publicly — keeping their Brooklyn future up in the air.
That’s why Brooklyn’s national TV appearances have gone from 26 last season to 13 for 2022-23. That’s why matchups with the Lakers and Warriors have currently been relegated to NBA TV rather than TNT, ESPN or ABC. That’s why the Nets are not playing on the NBA’s Christmas TV spectacular. Later in the season, the NBA’s TV partners could have some flexibility to make changes. Yet by early in 2023, can anyone guarantee Durant or Irving will still be with the Nets?
Or as The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor recently wrote: “Brooklyn is defined by uncertainty.”
Those words should be ingrained in the heads of anyone covering — or interested in — the Nets circus. Especially when it starts travelling from city to city. This recent, so-called truce agreed to by Durant,
Steve Nash knows who to point to when it comes to who wanted him fired. (John Minchillo/AP)
Does anyone really think either Durant or Irving is likely to throw in the towel after not getting their way? After all, they are The Real Nets of Brooklyn. One meeting, and one statement is not going to stop this compelling reality show. The Nets are the NBA’s No. 1 story. The L.A. meeting, and the “partnership” declaration, just keeps folks talking basketball in the dog days of August.
That’s a good thing for the NBA. And not such a good thing for Major League Baseball.
Some of the reactions are unusual. Like Stephen A. Smith definitively declaring Nets owner Joe Tsai a conquering hero for carrying the owners’ water by not caving into Durant’s demands and making The Sensitive One adhere to his contract. Let’s see how long that lasts?
There are a few upcoming RNOB episodes to look forward too. Like when training camp opens and the media tweets out videos of Durant, Marks and Steve Nash’s (Durant wanted him fired too) body language. How high will the discomfort level be? Then, there will be questions to Durant about the performances of Nash and Marks. What will Durant’s spin be?
Will he say this was all just about business, trade negotiations? Or will Durant fire a preemptive strike on Twitter before camp opens?
Then, what happens if the Nets get off slowly in the regular season? On YES, the TV home of the Nets, will Sarah Kustok and Ian (The Bird) Eagle analyze how the offseason static may have affected what’s happening on the court? Will they analyze Nash’s coaching (they didn’t get into it much last season) and remind fixated eyeballs how Durant wanted him fired?
Or will they leave it to viewers to figure things out and deal with uncertainty?
The Free World can breathe a sigh of relief. Michael Kay will return to his ESPN-98.7 show on Sept. 6. There’s no doubt the first topic of discussion will be himself — Michael Kay.
Kay, also YES’ voice of the Yankees, is on the tail end of a 10-week vacation from his radio show, leaving it in the capable mouths of Don La Greca and Peter Rosenberg. Now, Kay is miffed about rumors suggesting there were reasons other than a vacation for his prolonged absence from TMKS. By now, the thin-skinned one should know rumors (on Twitter he called them “conspiracy theories”) come with the territory.
Nonetheless, there was a basic strategy that could have alleviated what Kay perceives as a problem. The suits, whether they be from ESPN or Good Karma Brands, should have insisted that Kay’s departure-for-vacation and return dates be announced on his radio show. That’s what Mike (Sports Pope) Francesa did on WFAN when he basically took the summer off. Giving listeners a heads-up by announcing Big Head’s vacation dates would have kept his plans in the open, short-circuiting the rumors Kay is now so sensitive about.
Kay was still working Yankees games on YES, so the unwashed masses knew there were no health issues. He also appeared on SiriusXM doing a segment with Christopher (Mad Dog) Russo at the same time TMKS was airing on 98.7. He must have forgot he was competing with his own show.
While Kay is contractually entitled to a certain amount of vacation days, the continuity (a critical element of talk radio) of the show was severely disrupted.
Not a good thing. Especially for a radio show scrambling to rebound in the ratings department.
Last winter’s MLB labor dispute, which disrupted spring training and delayed the start of the regular season, continues to have an impact.
ESPN is faced with a real dilemma that should not happen again. The all-new Wild Card series (four best of three opening round series) will commence Friday, Oct. 7 rather than in mid-week. On Saturday, Oct. 8, ESPN is looking to carry four MLB playoff games on its linear platforms.
How ESPN can juggle those baseball playoff games with the most ambitious college football schedule on TV is going to be a monumental challenge.
Norman Julius Esiason doesn’t think much of ESPN’s NFL broadcast team of Steve Levy, Louis Riddick and Dan Orlovsky. The trio worked last Monday’s Falcons-Jets exhibition tilt.
Esiason’s FAN partner, Gregg Giannotti, brought the “best” out of Norman by saying the Jets “didn’t play anyone” in the nationally televised game.
”ESPN didn’t play anyone either,” Esiason, who also works in CBS Sports’ NFL pregame studio, fired back.
Wonder what caused NJE to deliver such a gratuitous shot? Did he tune in thinking he was actually going to see Joe Buck/Troy Aikman working the game?
Or was Esiason just being mean.
Unlike many of his fellow Gasbags, Christopher (Mad Dog) Russo didn’t provide a soft-landing spot for YES, or its Remote Broadcaster Pau lO’Neill. On his SXM yakkfest, Dog ranted, calling O’Neill “selfish” for not getting the COVID-19 shot required by YES management. He also hammered the network for bending its rules to accommodate The Warrior. ”They should have told him to take a hike and come back and see us when you get the shot,” Russo said. … Special moment on ESPN-98.7 when Don La Greca went at it with Buddha from the Bronx, a regular caller. Buddha took issue with DLG injecting some reality into the legacy of George M. Steinbrenner. Electric radio. … The versatile Dan Graca has moved into the 7 p.m.-10 p.m. slot on ESPN-98.7. Management turned down his request for a 10-week vacation … RIP Len Dawson. After he was fired from his job at NBC Sports, the Chiefs Hall of Famer told me: ”They [the suits] never told me I was doing anything wrong until they fired me.” Right then I knew I was covering a miserable business.
* * *
The Red Sox TV analyst may be retiring at season’s end but he’s still bringing the heat in the booth. Eckersley is fair, insightful and unafraid to criticize. Vintage Eck last week when he called the Pirates “a hodgepodge of nothingness.”
DWEEB OF THE WEEK: SCOTT FROST
There is no group of sports figures more out of touch than major college football coaches. Nebraska’s Frost showed his lack of concern and awareness when bragging that his O-line are tossing their cookies 15-20 times per practice session. Ugh!
What Sean Marks said: “We have agreed to move forward with our partnership.”
What Sean Marks meant to say: “Kevin [Durant], this is what happens when you try to get me fired.”
Copyright © 2022, New York Daily News
Copyright © 2022, New York Daily News