How times change.
It's been 25 years since Fred "Mad Dog" Carter played in the backcourt for the old Baltimore Bullets in front of half-filled houses at the Civic Center, but the passage of time hasn't diminished Carter's fondness for the city.
"Baltimore will always be a special place to me. The fans there were wonderful. It's a real family town. It always has been," said Carter, the studio analyst for ESPN2's nightly "The NBA 2Night" program, which makes its debut after Sunday's NBA All-Star Game.
Carter, a gifted defender who starred at Mount St. Mary's before being drafted by the Bullets, where he played for parts of three seasons, says Baltimore has received a bad rap over the perception that it didn't support the Bullets adequately before the franchise moved to Washington in 1973.
"We didn't draw because the team wasn't marketed like teams are today," said Carter, who runs a distributorship in Philadelphia, where he coached the 76ers for parts of two seasons. "It was a hard-working town and the folks were supporting three other teams [Orioles, Colts and the American Hockey League Clippers] at a time when the town wasn't that large. It wasn't the fans' fault."
That ESPN2 is doing a 30-minute nightly program on the NBA is a reflection of how things are so different from when Carter was a player.
"There's a definite need for a show like this. The league is growing and expanding, not just here in the United States, but abroad, and you have to get out there and inform and educate people about what's going on," said Carter.
"The NBA 2Night" will air Mondays through Fridays at midnight with Stuart Scott as host.
Fox's baseball slate
Fox yesterday announced its inaugural Saturday afternoon baseball telecast schedule, and it includes eight regional appearances for the Orioles.
The Orioles make their first network appearance on June 8, at home against the Chicago White Sox at 1 p.m. Other Fox airings are on June 22 (Kansas City), June 29 (New York), July 6 and 20 (Boston), July 27 and Aug. 3 (Cleveland) and Aug. 31 (Seattle).
The Orioles could appear on either of the "wild-card" dates, Sept. 21 or 28, which Fox has left open to grab the most attractive pennant race games.
The world champion Atlanta Braves will make nine Fox appearances -- the most of any team -- followed by the Orioles, Indians, Mariners and Cubs, with eight each. The network will air four games regionally each Saturday starting June 1.
The HTS-ACC combination
Home Team Sports will produce tonight's Virginia-North Carolina State men's basketball game, with Bob Rathbun and Kevin Grevey at courtside and Dave Johnson anchoring the halftime show from Bethesda.
This telecast marks the first time that HTS has produced an ACC men's conference game.
The NFL meetings
At least two local radio stations plan to cover the NFL talks at which a vote on the Browns move is expected.
WCBM (680 AM) will dispatch its sports director, Art Sinclair, to Chicago, where he will broadcast live during morning and afternoon news reports today and tomorrow. In addition, Sinclair will anchor a talk show from the site of the meetings from 3 to 5 p.m. today. Former Gov. William Donald Schaefer will lead a one-hour discussion at 5 p.m., and Sinclair and Stan "The Fan" Charles will discuss developments from 6 to 8 p.m., with Charles picking up the discussion at 8 p.m. On Friday, "Conference Call" will wrap up the days' events at 6 p.m.
WBAL (1090 AM) will air reports from Channel 11 sports reporter Mark Viviano, who originally broke the story last November, and news reporter John Patti throughout the day, breaking into programming when an announcement is made. Finally, Stan White will appear on CNN this morning during the 9:30 a.m. half-hour to talk about the happenings.