Why Ed O’Bannon is Our New Favorite Likeness

Posted by rtmsf on July 22nd, 2009

It takes some doing to keep your name in the news some 14 years after winning a national title and some 12 years after ‘retiring’ from the NBA, but former NPOY and UCLA national champion Ed O’Bannon is doing his best this summer.  First came the Washington Post article in June that showed how, instead of cashing mega-checks like his contemporaries KG, Stack and Sheed from the 1995 draft, Eddie O. is now selling cars in the hot Vegas desert; that was followed by media exposure of the Lil Wayne song “Cannon,” where the lyric “listen close I got duct tape and rope, I’ll leave you missin’ like the (expletive) O’Bannons” was roundly ridiculed in the blogosphere.  Perhaps striking while the iron is hot, O’Bannon today sued the NCAA and its brand manager, Collegiate Licensing Company, in a federal class action suit claiming that the two entities illegally use player likenesses and images to reap millions of dollars in profit while former players see nothing in return.  Pete Thamel from the NYT writes:

ed o'bannon ucla

A lawsuit that [O’Bannon’s] lawyers filed on Tuesday could change that answer and affect other issues surrounding the use of the likenesses and images of former college football and basketball players.  The lawsuit is for an undisclosed amount of money, but will bring into greater focus the N.C.A.A.’s $4 billion licensing industry. The lawsuit says that former athletes should be compensated by the N.C.A.A. for the use of their images and likenesses in such things as television advertisements, video games and apparel.

According to O’Bannon, he got the idea for this suit when a co-worker saw a UCLA game of his on ESPN Classic the night before.  When the colleague asked whether he received residuals for the showing of that game, he said no.  Whether or not this half-baked vignette is truly the reason behind the suit (it’s not), the general feeling is that this could be a major, major problem for the NCAA.  The fundamental question that a court will have to decide comes down to whether the existing NCAA policy that requires its student-athletes to sign away their rights to their likenesses in exchange as a condition for playing collegiate sports is legal.  O’Bannon’s argument is that such a policy is exploitative at its core, and Michael McCann from Sports Law Blog believes there could be merit to his argument.

The stakes of O’Bannon v. NCAA are enormous. If O’Bannon and former student-athletes prevail or receive a favorable settlement, the NCAA, along with its member conferences and schools, could be required to pay tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, of dollars in damages — particularly since damages are trebled under federal antitrust law.

Frankly, it’s about effin’ time.  As Dan Wetzel poignantly notes in his article breaking the story today, the players are painted into a (legally unrepresented) corner at 17 or 18 years old when all they’re really worried about is getting their eligibility to play college sports.  We understand why the NCAA doesn’t want its current players profiting off of their likenesses while an amateur, but why does the NCAA retain 100% of those rights for the rest of those players’ lives?  Why does Texas Western profit off of 1966 jerseys of #14 Bobby Joe Hill, but not the player (or the estate in Hill’s case) some 40+ years later?  Same thing with Jerry Rice’s MVSU #88 jersey?  Or, as O’Bannon stated in his complaint, why doesn’t he see a dime for an EA Sports video game licensed by the NCAA that clearly shows his silky smooth left-handed collegiate “self” running around making shots and ripping down rebounds as a 1995 UCLA Bruin?  It’s absolutely ludicrous, and we’d really like to see the NCAA take it on the chin this time around.

Epilogue: guess who is making this happen as an ‘unpaid consultant’… none other than the top NCAA gadfly himself, Sonny Vaccaro.  Call him the Highlander Folk School and Ed O’Bannon the Rosa Parks of NCAA reform…

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Coach K to Coach Team USA in the 2012 Olympics

Posted by nvr1983 on July 21st, 2009

We have already laid out our thoughts on the possibility of this occurring earlier, but it’s worth bringing up again because USA Basketball made it official today that Mike Krzyzewski was returning to lead Team USA in the 2012 Olympics in London. For as much hate as he gets as the coach of Duke, we have to say that he has done a great job of rebuilding USA Basketball with Jerry Colangelo although that it can be argued that his best attribute was that he didn’t bench his best player (see George Karl in 2002) or select a squad that was horribly put together/too young and act like an insufferable jerk while coach that team (see Larry Brown in 2004). Perhaps the biggest impact Coach K’s return will have is convincing the team’s stars (LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Dwayne Wade) to return for another run at the gold medal. Team USA version 2012 could potentially field a team that is legitimately as dominant as The Dream Team (none of this ridiculous “Redeem Team” junk from this year) as the  2008 team’s core players will be entering their primes with the exception of Kobe. Here’s a quick look at a potential roster for London:

PG = Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo, and Derrick Rose

SG =  Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, and Brandon Roy

SF = LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Kevin Durant

PF/C = Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin, Al Jefferson, and Chris Bosh

Obviously that’s more people than could suit up, but they would probably lose at least one guy to age/injuries (candidates: Kobe, Wade, and Jefferson) or might drop one of the potential PGs (likely Rondo or Williams). Griffin is also the other wild-card here since we’re forecasting his success in the NBA, but Team USA’s weakness is inside and it seems like he would be perfect in the international setting with the up-tempo pace that Team USA would likely employ even if Malcolm Gladwell thinks that style of play is a recipe for an upset. In any case, this team would be enormous favorites in London and would highlight a talent–recruiting–that was once considered Coach K’s greatest asset back when he used to simply coach Duke.

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PSA: CBS College Sports Replaying 2009 NCAA Tournament

Posted by rtmsf on July 21st, 2009

Here’s a friendly public service announcement from your friends at RTC…

cbs college sports logo

If you’re jonesing for some college hoops during the long, hot, humid days of summer, CBS College Sports channel (CSTV on your channel guide) has your prescription.  Games started yesterday, but the channel has plans to show the entirety of the 2009 NCAA Tournament over the next two weeks.  A complete schedule of games is here, but here are the date/times for the best few.  Set your Tivos now…

  • UCLA v. VCU – Wednesday, July 22 @ 4pm (encore showings: Thurs. July 23 @ 10am and Fri. July 31 @ 6pm) – Eric Maynor does his best to knock off the mighty Bruins but comes up just short.
  • Tennessee v. Oklahoma St.Wednesday, July 22 @ 10pm (Thurs. July 23 @ 4am and Sat. Aug. 1 @ 4pm) – Byron Eaton with a clear path to the basket…
  • Siena v. Ohio St. – Friday, July 24 @ 10pm (Sat. July 25 @ 3:30am and Sat. Aug. 1 @ 10pm) – re-live the plucky Saints hitting clutch shot after clutch shot to defeat OSU in double-overtime.
  • Gonzaga v. W. Kentucky – Sunday, July 26 @ 4pm (Sat. Aug. 1 @ 8pm) – Demetri Goodson with his best Tyus Edney impersonation…
  • Missouri v. MarquetteTuesday, July 28 @ 12pm (Wed. July 29 @ 6am and Sat. Aug. 1 @ 2pm) – the best game of the second round featured end-to-end action throughout. 
  • Pittsburgh v. Villanova – Wednesday, July 29 @ 10pm (Thurs. July 30 @ 4am) – fantastic finish to get to the F4 and the best game of the 2009 Dance. 
  • Michigan St. v. UConnThursday, July 30 @ 6pm (Fri. July 31 @ 12am and Sun. Aug. 2 at 12pm) – not the greatest game ever, but it was fun watching the upstart Spartans take on the much more highly-favored Huskies in this one.
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07.20.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on July 20th, 2009

Is there a worse time of year for roundball fans than July/August?  Well, is there?  Let’s see what’s been cooking over the last week or so…

  • Economics, NCAA Style.  Have you guys heard that we’re in a recession – that the economy may not exactly be whirring along at a blistering pace?  Inevitably, college athletic departments are starting to feel the crunch nearly as much as your local Citibastard – some are cutting expenses such as chartered flights and media guides, while even the venerable and uber-rich Stanford athletic department is cutting employees.  Meanwhile, schools such as UCLA, Cal, and others are instituting high-dollar seat licensing fees (we’re talking hundreds of thousands) to finance their stadium renovations and attend their games for the next quarter-century.  Crisis is another word for opportunity, and we’re wondering if the current economic climate will only provide leverage for the NCAA haves (Florida, Texas, Ohio St., UCLA, etc.) to exploit and exacerbate the widening gap between themselves and the have-nots by using private equity as the hammer.  The NCAA ADs have given lip service to construct a more equitable model of competition for its member institutions, but like the Yankees/Red Sox freight train in MLB, the arms race inertia is already accelerating downhill and moving too quickly to be stopped.  The final solution may ultimately have to be a separation of BCS schools from the remainder of D1, and to get there, you have to pay to play.   
  • 2009 ACC/Big Ten Challenge.  Last year we had very high hopes that the Big Ten would finally get off the mat and win one of these challenges.  Alas, MSU took its first of two emasculations at the hands of UNC last year in Ford Field, and the Midwesterners lost 6-5.  This year’s schedule is out, and unfortunately for the Big Ten, our first glance reveals that the odds are significantly in the ACC’s favor to win this event again.  The Monday and Tuesday night games (Nov. 30 and Dec. 1) favor home teams Virginia, NC State, UNC, Purdue and Iowa, but we’d expect the ACC to break serve by Maryland winning in Bloomington for an early 4-2 lead.  Even with a Dec. 2 slate that favors the Big Ten, with Michigan and OSU holding serve at home to match Clemson, we’d expect Minnesota to get a road win at Miami (FL) only for the league to fall on its face again when Duke does what it does and rips Wisconsin a new one in the Kohl Center.  The ACC wins again, 6-5.  We have it coming down to three road winners, with the ACC taking two of them (Maryland and Duke).  How do you see it?
  • UConn Savior?  This was quiet over the weekend but we find it to be a significant piece of news out of the UConn program, which is that the oft-confounding Ater Majok has committed that he will indeed play for Jim Calhoun’s Huskies next season.  Majok’s eligibility has been a wild ride for UConn faithful, beginning a year-plus ago with his verbal commitment and two semesters of classwork in Storrs, only to be followed by a flirtation with the NBA Draft (withdrawing) and lucrative professional options overseas.  The versatile 6’10 forward will help Calhoun shore up a somewhat inexperienced frontcourt led by returnees Stanley Robinson and Gavin Edwards, and if the reports of his potential are true, could provide an offensive force on the blocks to relieve some of the pressure from the very talented perimeter tandem of Kemba Walker and Jerome Dyson.  Major good news for the UConn program, which has taken its share of hits the past few months.   
  • Quick Hits.  Noel Johnson: the former USC recruit will end up at ClemsonDave Bliss: resurfaces in Texas (not coaching, thank God).  Karen Sypher: no merit to her complaint against PitinoTark the Shark: his spinal surgery delayedKeno Davisextended through 2016Al-Farouq Aminu: looking to dominate in 2009-10Larry Sanders: thinking first round next season.  Renardo Sidney: Part 1 of the NCAA inquiryLance Stephenson: much ado about disorderly conductJared Sullinger: another in a run of Buckeye bigsHarrison Barnes: get used to that nameMichael Gilchrist: another World Wide Wes guy with no chance at a childhoodSeth Davis: analyzes the top players on the summer recruiting circuitSouth Carolina: in violation of impermissible snackage.
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Report: Tennessee Loses Prized Recruit Selby

Posted by zhayes9 on July 20th, 2009

Some surprising recruiting news broke this morning and has been confirmed by multiple sources: Josh Selby, an elite class of 2010 point guard recruit from Baltimore, has de-committed from Tennessee. Selby, who first announced the news via his Facebook page, is ranked as the #3 point guard in the class and considered a legitimate five-star recruit who would have solved Bruce Pearl’s ongoing search for a player to run his fast-paced offensive attack.

Selby’s mother to CBS Sports: “We’re just going to get together as a family and figure it out. Right now we don’t even know. We haven’t compiled a list or anything.” She didn’t rule out a return to Rocky Top for her son and cited the main reason for de-committing as being “overwhelmed” during the initial process, leading to a rash decision to commit to Bruce Pearl and the Vols. Industry sources indicate that John Calipari could immediately jump on this juicy situation and lure Selby to Kentucky to take over as starting point guard when John Wall departs for the NBA. Louisville could also be involved (they offered Selby before he committed to UT) while Memphis and Oregon are the sleepers.  Selby broke through in a big way at the LeBron James Skills Academy this month, only improving his already leaping stock as a top-10 player in the entire 2010 class. Selby shot down rumors of a possible de-commitment from Tennessee during the camp, but apparently he had been considering such a decision.

This has to be crushing news for Vols headman Bruce Pearl, who is currently coaching Team USA in Israel at the Maccabiah Games. Pearl has garnered some controversy from Vol fans for ditching the all-important July recruiting trail for the games and the de-commitment of Selby will not soothe their worries. While head coaches like Calipari, Ernie Kent, Paul Hewitt or Josh Pastner have been able to converse with Selby during these elite summer recruiting camps, Pearl’s assistants have taken over such duties, leaving one to question whether that was a good decision.

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Buzz: Erin Andrews Debacle

Posted by rtmsf on July 18th, 2009

Hey, we love Erin Andrews as much as any other red-blooded American sports blogger, and we hold a particularly special place for Ms. Andrews considering she earned her national rep as an ESPN sideline reporter for college sports, most notably football and our beloved game.  But the news that broke last night that some  surly troglodyte filmed her getting dressed in a hotel room through a peephole in the door is reprehensible, unconscionable and utterly criminal.  There is absolutely no excuse for this kind of behavior, and RTC hopes that if we ever have the chance to encounter Andrews in the future at any college basketball games or events, we’ll be able to personally tell her that not all blogs are equally willing to go down that road.  Our hope is that the feds get involved and quickly nail whoever subjected Andrews to such a blatant and sick invasion of her privacy.

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It’s Dre Day at Duke?

Posted by rtmsf on July 17th, 2009

Jeff Goodman reported today that Duke recruit and Class of 2010 shooting guard Andre Dawkins is considering enrolling in Durham one year earlier than expected.  Dawkins has completed four years of high school already due to a transfer after his freshman year and is merely one course away from completing all his graduation requirements.  However, his father stated to the Raleigh News & Observer that this was not a ‘done deal,’ and no decision will be made until late August, presumably when they learn whether Dawkins will have passed muster with the NCAA Clearinghouse.

If this occurs, this will be a major coup for Duke and Coach K, as the Devils are facing a near-crisis situation in their backcourt after the losses of Gerald Henderson (NBA) and Elliot Williams (transfer) in the offseason.  Dawkins will provide MUCH-needed depth on the perimeter, turning a paper-thin rotation of Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith into a more daunting trio including the 6’4 shooting guard.  While Dawkins isn’t a point guard but instead a shooter with inside-the-gym range, his ability to spell Scheyer and Smith suddenly makes Duke a much tougher team for 2009-10.

We’re not convinced that this solves all of Duke’s problems going into next season, as the Devils still won’t have an elite playmaker in the backcourt, but this may mean that Coach K won’t feel the need to play zone defense after all.  Speaking of defense, reports are that Dawkins doesn’t exactly excel in that area, so if he figures that Duke’s necessity will dictate automatic minutes for him, he’ll still need to address that deficiency in order to satisfy Coach K (much as Elliot Williams did last year).  By any objective measure, however, the potential addition of Dawkins to the 09-10 Blue Devils has no downside, and their fans must be absolutely thrilled with this pleasant surprise.

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Coming Soon To A Discount Bin Near You…

Posted by jstevrtc on July 15th, 2009

Several outlets today are reporting that the literary world is about to be turned on its ear.  As if he didn’t have enough on his plate, like hauling the University of Kentucky into court, trolling the Lexington bars, making friends with the locals, and maybe trying to find a JOB, one Mr. Billy Gillispie has decided to put pen to paper and tell the world his story (with the aid of an actual writer, of course).  That’s right.  Even though I’d say you might have to wait a whole, like, TWO WEEKS for the thing to be written, we will soon be enlightened by…The Billy Gillispie Story.


My question is what on earth is going to actually GO INTO this book?  Riveting chapters about how he was Kentucky’s 18th choice for the head coaching job when they hired him?  A list of his favorite beers?  A discussion on the benefits of never playing a second of zone defense, or how two-hour full-speed practices on game days can lead to REALLY cool injuries for your team?  It seems to me, aside from taking himself a lit-tle too seriously, making an idiot out of himself and embarassing the school he represented (esp. as it pertains to a certain Jeanine Edwards) and being an inflexible boob, the man just hasn’t DONE anything yet.  And there’s a good chance he never will.  With the public persona he’s built for himself and the fact that he’s shown a proclivity for suing former employers, the guy’d be lucky to get a job cleaning John Calipari’s golf cleats, let alone a coaching job at anything resembling a major basketball program.

Seriously, who’s going to buy this thing?  The Texas A&M and UTEP years are too far gone for anyone there to care.  Kentucky fans will only buy it if it turns into a diatribe against his former players (yeah, THAT’LL make players want to play for you, big guy), but even then most UK supporters will refuse to buy it out of spite.  He might call it The Billy Gillispie Story, but I think we all know what this is, in terms of his career — a hundred-page, picture-filled, large print coffin nail.

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Lords of the Hoops: USA U19s Win Gold In Worlds

Posted by jstevrtc on July 12th, 2009

Get lost, Frodo and company.  Liv Tyler, you can stay.  But recognize, today, it’s the USA U19s who are the toast of New Zealand.

In an event we’ve had a fun time following this summer at RTC, the USA Under-19 squad took the gold medal at the Under-19 World Championships in Auckland, New Zealand over the weekend, going a perfect 9-0 for the tournament.  Tyshawn Taylor (Kansas) led the Americans with 18p/2r/6a/5s in the finals against the U19s from Greece, with UTEP’s Arnett Moultrie adding 10p/9r/2a.  The USA placed two players on the All-Tournament Team (which, in New Zealand, is apparently called the “All-Star Five”), namely Taylor, and Butler’s Gordon Hayward.  The title is the Americans’ first in this competition since 1991.  Incidentally, if you’d like another name to watch out for (we had previously told you about Rutgers’ Mike Rosario who played for the Puerto Rico U19s and the 54 he plopped on last-place France), don’t forget Croatia’s Mario Delas.  He was named the tournament’s MVP and is currently set to go 18th on nbadraft.net’s 2011 mock draft.

Sing it proud, guys.  (Credit:  usabasketball.com)

Sing it proud, guys. (Credit: usabasketball.com)

The final against Greece was indicative of the entire tournament for the US squad in that it was a true team effort.  In the final, all but one player on the team played at least 11 minutes and there were seven players who contributed at least seven points.  Jamie Dixon (Pitt), Matt Painter (Purdue) and Chris Lowery (Southern Illinois) crafted a US team with players suited for those crazy, confounded international rules, not to mention one that produced an extremely balanced attack, and they brought home the hardware.

Of course, the big question is what each individual player will take from this experience — besides a sweet gold medal which looks a little like a NYC subway MetroCard tied to a lanyard, and what I’m sure are some lovely photos of the NZ countryside — and how he’ll apply it to the rest of his college career.  Travel of this nature can only help to broaden a young man’s mind; and we all know that everyone wants to beat the tar out of the United States whenever they get the chance and that everyone guns for us.  That’s a sentiment some guys on this team (like Taylor from Kansas, Darius Miller from Kentucky, eventually Seth Curry from Duke) might be used to, and while that environment provides invaluable experience for everyone involved, it’s especially good for players from smaller programs.  Doesn’t look like Moultrie or Hayward had a problem with it, eh?  It’ll also be interesting to see if Southern Illinois makes a jump forward this year with Lowery having spent quality time around two of the best in the business in Dixon and Painter.  In any event, great work all around, gentlemen!  Enjoy showin’ off the new bling.

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Some Floor Time With The Big Time

Posted by jstevrtc on July 11th, 2009

Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is a contributing writer for Rush The Court.  In his spare time, he officiates basketball at various levels and recently had the occasion to share the floor with a referee from the Big East.

Last summer Pat Devaney, who coordinates the Hamilton Park (high school) Summer League, asked if Brian O’Connell might be interested in officiating.  Brian is an outstanding official who works a good portion of his schedule in the Big East.  Brian and Pat are friends from their days growing up in Bayonne (NJ), so there was a realistic shot at getting him.  The one problem would be if his conferences (which happen to be the Big East and the MAAC) would permit Brian to work summer ball on a prep level.  As it turned out there was no problem and Brian accepted a schedule in the Hamilton Park circuit.  Just as a high school or lower division coach might be thrilled to be in a huddle with Roy Williams or Coach K, I was fortunate to have the chance to work three games with a major-conference official in Brian last Tuesday.

Why is that man smiling?  Because he knows Ray Floriani.  (Credit: statsheet.com)

Why is Mr. O'Connell smiling? Because he knows Ray Floriani. (Credit: statsheet.com)

We had three games at School #7 (air-conditioned, thank God) in the Heights section of Jersey City.  Our first game was Long Branch and Newark Tech.  Brian lives in the Jersey Shore area not far from Long Branch so he knew the coaches rather well.  An advantage of Summer ball is the opportunity to speak with coaches in an informal setting before or after a game.  From the outset it’s all Newark.  I get a good look at Brian’s people skills.  Many officials can make calls or have no calls but people skills, dealing with coaches and players, allow you to rise through the ranks.  Brian talks to one player who fouled, not adhering to verticality.  “You know why you fouled,” he said, “this is what you did… .”  As we move on, Brian has a great no-call on a defender flopping on a possible block/charge.  “If the shot didn’t go in I had a block,” he explains during a time out.  The game ends with Newark Tech a one sided victor.  “Wish I had at least one call back,” I said.  “The slap,” Brian answers, remembering the play perfectly.  It was third quarter with Newark up twenty-something and penetrating.  There is a slap on the arm but the Newark player finishes it.  Given the time, score and play I could have passed.”  The slap had me jump the gun,” I said.  “Just wait on a play like that,” Brian advises.

The second game is between St. Peter’s Prep and Union High School.  It is a well-contested one possession game. Late in the first half the Prep head coach Mike Kelly, who was quietly watching at the end of the bench while his assistant ran the team, disagrees with Brian over a no-call. Kelly jumps off the bench shouting, is well out onto the floor, and Brian gives him a technical.  Kelly persists and is thrown out.  Leaving, the coach makes a remark about being ‘big timed’.  We move on.  Prep spurts early in the second half and goes on to a well earned 44-32 victory.  “Can you believe that?” Pat Devaney says about the flare up.  “Maybe Kelly wanted a mention in the column,” I replied to interject a little humor.  Brian is one of the easygoing guys on the college circuit and is slow to ‘T’ people.  “That’s my second tech all year,” he says.  “Who got the other one?” I ask.  “John Thompson III, but he wanted it (to fire up his team).”

Game three is a full court track meet between High Tech and the Jersey Jayhawks AAU team.  The Jayhawks have only five players.  At the quarter Brian tells me # 15 of the Jayhawks has two fouls.  “I know, I called them,” I said.  As far as game management, Brian is very aware of the entire situation.  As officials in that spot, when someone is in foul trouble, we work hard to ensure further infractions are severely warranted.  As (revered former collegiate official and supervisor) Edgar Cartotto says, “Forget the misdemeanors, grab the felonies.”  At one point, we have a jump ball.  I have the arrow wrong.  Brian corrects me.  During a timeout I said, “I’m honored to be in the same situation as Jim Burr, in reference to a game at the Garden when Brian had to correct the veteran Burr on an arrow.  Brian had to leave the fourth quarter in our game; it was cleared with Devaney ahead of time and I finished up with  long time officiating friend Dennis Nuber.  On the way out Brian notes he was very pleased with my work but suggests getting in closer on an opening tap.  “Jump balls are tough,” he said, “that’s why I try not to toss too much.”

The second half is all Jayhawks as they post a convincing win over a good club.  On the way out, Pat Devaney tells me, “Brian said you did an excellent job.”  I have covered games Brian has worked at the RAC, the Garden, Prudential Center, et al.  I have watched NCAA tournament games he has worked.  Tonight we were partners on the same floor.  An unforgettable honor for yours truly.

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