After some delay in getting it posted online this morning, my weekly media column, leading with a conversation with CBS's outstanding broadcast team of Verne Lundquist, Bill Raftery, and Lesley Visser, can be found here and here.
I spoke to them together at the Garden before Wednesday's practices for the teams playing in the East Regional, and it was a blast. Raftery's renown as a master storyteller was on display, but Lundquist and Visser more than hold their own. Just for the heck of it, or perhaps because I enjoyed the interview so much, here are a few other reminiscences that didn't make the column:
Lundquist, recalling a Celtics-Knicks playoff game in the '80s that he said was perhaps his favorite memory of calling a Boston sporting event. ‘‘I remember Larry Bird, to this day, fueling a run, and he hit a jumper from the corner before the Knicks finally called time out. And we went to commercial, and it was the most extraordinary thing in the world. People cheered through the timeout. Two-minutes-and-30 seconds. And they were still cheering at thesame volume when we came back out. We’d gone in with no commentary, and we came out and let it keep going. Finally, after it started to die down, I said they haven’t quit since we left for commercial. It was amazing.’’
I'm drawing a blank on the specific year and game -- the Celtics and Knicks met in the playoffs in 1984, '88 and '90 during the Bird era. Anyone remember watching this? Or better yet, have a video clip?
Raftery, recalling dealing with Bird while working on a feature to air during a Nets broadcast in the '80s: "The public stock for the Celtics had just come out. I bought a share. That was the gimmick. They'd had a couple of losses, and I was there to complain about Bird's play, and Red [Auerbach] and that was the gist of it. So I got the cam, came over here, and Jeff Twiss [the Celtics' p.r.] director says, 'Bird's going to shoot and leave.' Well, without him, there's no feature. I say, 'All he has to do is shoot one free throw.' Twiss asks Bird, comes out, and says he's not going to do it. So I went to him, I said, 'Larry, Bill Raftery,' and he looks at me like, who's this [expletive]. So he finally says, 'I'll do it if you shoot a couple.' So I shot a couple, and made 'em, and he looks at me and says, 'You old son of a [gun].' "
I suspect some money may have changed hands there given Bird's hobby of beating reporters in free-throw shooting contests -- with the bait being that he would shoot lefthanded.
Raftery, on whether he's run into Jerome Lane in recent years (Raftery's joyous call of Lane's backboard-shattering dunk in a 1988 Pitt-Providence game -- "Send it in, Jerome!" -- is a famous phrase in college basketball's lexicon): "I ran into him at a Pitt game once, but a couple of years ago, the 20-year anniversary, I was on ESPU down in Charlotte, and they hooked him up, and I didn't know it was coming. I was on this panel of experts, coaches who couldn't win, basically, me being one of them. So they hooked him up and run the footage, and he's on and he said that his son now sees this thing and gets so excited, and he said, 'Thanks, Mr. Raft, for making me famous with my son.' It was the nicest thing. I had never said "Send it in" before. It just popped out. People nowadays use "flush.'' You want to say your own thing, and it just comes out naturally."
The play-by-play man for that game was Mike Gorman, who worked with Raftery on Big East games for years. One of the cool things about the video of Lane's dunk is the genuine excitement of the announcers. All these years later, the love of basketball for both of them -- Gorman on CSNNE's Celtics telecasts, of course -- is still obvious and true.
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.