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Packer's latest free throw for publicity should've been ignored


Please, please, please, print media, let's cease and desist going along with Billy Packer's annual grab for publicity, which always arrives conveniently with the lull in the college hoops season. The CBS analyst putting the knock on the NCAA record 66 straight free throws made by Ginny Doyle of Richmond was just one of numerous obtuse remarks Packer has made over the years and should be kept in perspective (disregarded). Instead, TV cameras, reporters and folks turned out in droves to see Ginny outshoot Billy by an embarrassing margin.

* It's Magic Johnson Weekend -- uh, NBA All-Star Weekend -- on NBC and TNT and the show gets under way Saturday (7 p.m.) on the cable with the slam-dunk, three-point shootout and the legends classic. The network shows up for the game at 3 p.m. Sunday from college hoops (Michigan vs. Notre Dame), thence commences the Ode to Magic. Something known as NBA Radio, a net already encompassing 61 stations, is doing the game, then 10 more regular-season games on Sundays.

* ABC has a good fight kicking off a six-bout series on "Wide World of Sports" Saturday (4:30 p.m.): James Toney (28-0) vs. Dave Tiberi (22-2). Toney fought a draw with Mike McCallum in December and appears beatable.

The net will follow with a Michael Carbajal fight next week, hoping to put a dent in CBS's Olympic ratings and, at the same time, checking to see if boxing can return to the days of worthwhile ratings.

Add fisticuffs: There will be more on the line than a fight with George Foreman in June for the victor when Larry Holmes (53-3) and Ray Mercer (18-0) climb into the ring in Atlantic City tomorrow night. Holmes, who was undisputed heavyweight champ between 1978-85, says he'll quit if he loses and he's a 4-to-1 underdog on the TVKO (pay-per-view, $20) show.

* George Schweltzer, the gent who masterminded the CBS promotional campaign for the Olympics, told TV Guide, "We're not selling this as sports. This is drama, global drama." Yeah, George, and when that doesn't fly, how's it going to look when a couple million sports fans get turned off by the fluff?

* Turnabout is fair play. For the last two decades, CBS sportscaster Greg Gumbel has been called by the name of his younger and more famous brother Bryant. During the Pebble Beach pro-am last week, Pat Summerall identified the NBC "Today Show" host as "Greg." Of course, a season of doing NFL games and talking between the booth and studio with the "NFL Today" show host might have had something to do with it. Fortunately, Bryant did not kill himself.

* The problem with "Pro Wrestling Talk" finding a roost over at WCBM beginning Sunday (7 p.m.) is it bounces a Frank Sinatra show to Sunday noon. Tell me that's not absolute sacrilege.

Hey, maybe 'CBM is moving to become the sports capital of local radio. Stan the Fan is starting a three-hour (10 p.m. to 1 a.m.), six-nights-a-week show there next month. Who knows, the incomparable Benny the Fan may be next into the mix. WBAL shudders.

* WETA (Washington PBS) has an excellent cast working the Mobil 1 track meet from George Mason University live Sunday

(1-3 p.m.): Dwight Stones hosts with Craig Masback, John Dockery and PattiSue Plumer experting. So, all right, collectively, these aren't the greatest broadcasting voices around, but they all know their stuff.

* Home Team Sports says it's doing all the Stanley Cup playoff games SportsChannel America sends along, plus about two games a week for the balance of the hockey season. SCA has its subscriber list up over 23 million.

* Ah yes, now that Howard Cosell has cut all ties with broadcasting -- his final commentary on the ABC Radio Network was last Friday -- we all contribute a Cosell memory to posterity. Remember how Howard, during "Monday Night Football," always used to regale us with stories about the important people he had breakfast or lunch with?

This was during the 1979 World Series, a tent had been set up across the street from Memorial Stadium and throngs of baseball people and the media swept in and out, picking at the hors d'oeuvres, etc. Typically, Howard broke into a conversation several writers were having with Gabe Paul (longtime owner and general manager). An argument ensued.

Later, during the ABC telecast, Cosell informed the world that "in a delightful and informative discussion over dinner Gabe Paul told me blah-blah-blah."

* Don't forget, golf in prime time, TBS picking up the Hawaiian Open tonight and tomorrow night at 8, then sending along the third and fourth rounds Saturday and Sunday at 6 p.m. Vin Scully is hosting, which will probably go a long way toward keeping the egos of the golf anchors on the networks in check.

* If you haven't caught Wilt Chamberlain interviewing contestants in the Foot Locker Slam Dunk competition during halftime of college basketball games, correct the situation immediately. It's a panic watching Wilt try to maneuver the conversation so he gets to talk about himself.

* Bud Collins, who many describe as a dog when it comes to doing tennis on NBC, moves over to host USA Network's coverage of the Westminster Dog Show next Monday and Tuesday (8-11 p.m.) . . . The Arbitron Ratings had both Saturday and Sunday segments of the recent Senior Skins Game on ABC walloping the Celtics-Pistons game on NBC . . . Who can blame Al McGuire for thinking it was a prank when he got a call concerning his being named to the Basketball Hall of Fame?

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