NBC goes to hoop with Jordan


Slowly, but surely, NBC has bludgeoned us into the recognition that this truly is a Michael Jordan planet and the rest of us just live here.

If you don't like Jordan, whose name was mentioned at least 10,000 times during yesterday's Chicago-Cleveland game -- including, incredibly during an otherwise fine feature on Cavaliers owner Gordon Gund -- hope your reservations for a two-month stint on Jupiter are intact.

Between now and the time the Bulls are eliminated from the playoffs, the Peacock network plans for near round-the-clock Jordan sightings on virtually every NBC program imaginable.

Our crack investigative staff here at "On the Air" has uncovered a secret memo with NBC's plans for the upcoming May sweeps, and you would be amazed how many times Jordan shows up on network programs.

For example:

* May 8, 8 p.m. -- On a very special "Fresh Prince of Bel Air," star Will Smith leads Jordan on a tour of the ghettos of the plush Los Angeles neighborhood, which Chicago residents will tell you is one more time than Jordan has visited troubled Windy City neighborhoods.

* May 11, 9 p.m. -- Normal programming is interrupted for a pilot of a new sitcom, showing the everyday, run-of-the-mill adventures of a comedian and his unexciting friends, titled "Jordanfeld." Also starring Scottie Pippen as a folliclely challenged neighbor who bursts in on Jordanfeld at the worst possible moments.

* May 17, 10 p.m. -- On a very special "Law and Order," the regular format, where the cops arrest a criminal in one half of the show, while prosecutors try the perpetrator in the second half, is suspended, as Jordan catches, tries, then executes the crook single-handedly.

* May 20, 11:30 p.m. -- On a very special "Saturday Night Live," Jordan is host, showing clips of his 9-for-26 shooting performance yesterday. The highlights aren't exactly funny, but they're side-splitting compared to anything SNL has put on in the last, say, 10 years.

* May 26, 8 p.m. -- On a very special "Unsolved Mysteries," host Robert Stack discusses exactly what happened to that NBA investigation into Jordan's gambling before his retirement.

Impressive debut for Simms

Former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms made his NBC on-air entrance yesterday, as a sideline reporter for the Phoenix-Portland NBA game, and he showed a lot of promise and potential, with solid information and good delivery.

Simms asked a good question of Meadowlark Lemon, the former Harlem Globetrotter now counseling Phoenix forward Richard Dumas, who returned to the Suns in March after a drug suspension, wanting to know why players have such a hard time staying clean. After the Suns' 104-94 win, Simms posed Charles Barkley and Kevin Johnson questions that indicated that he had actually done some homework.

From those questions, you can figure that Simms hasn't received the memo from sideline veteran Ahmad Rashad about how you're not supposed to ask tough questions. But don't worry, for Simms is still green. He'll learn soon enough.

Insomniac's best friend

For a lot of folks, the Masters is the one golf tournament to watch, because it is the biggest. That said, here's hoping if you did catch some of CBS' coverage over the weekend, that you either had lots of caffeine on hand or a nice soft pillow to cushion your head.

That's no knock on CBS, which did a nice job, particularly yesterday, of moving the viewer around quickly from hole to hole to start the telecast.

But, let's face it: While golf may be a fascinating sport to play, for the average sports viewer, it's a stultifying game to watch on television because it has so little action.

Action, of course, isn't everything, but for a visual medium like television, it's critical in attracting the man or woman who doesn't play or watch on a regular basis.

And speaking of drama, having the green jacket presentation in Butler Cabin, away from the presence of the fans, as well as having the Augusta National official in the cabin playing interviewer kind of ruins the effect as well, but the Masters is as the Masters does.

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