3/8 TC The fondest wish of an NBA fan going into Sunday's All-Star Game should be that the game more closely resemble the free-form pickup contest that it's accused of being than the low scoring drudge that many NBA games have become this season.
"There won't be a lack of offense on Sunday," said Bill Walton, who will join Marv Albert and Matt Guokas in calling the game. "If the coaches [around the league] will take a look at how Doug Collins and Rudy T [Tomjanovich, the All-Star coaches] will be operating under the theory of let's get [the ball] up, let's take some shots, then you'll get some offense."
The NBC triumvirate has installed Grant Hill as the favorite to take home the Most Valuable Player award from the game (Channel 11, 6 p.m.), following the logic that guards who control the ball are better suited to take over games like these, not to mention the fact that Collins, Hill's coach in Detroit, will want to see him do well.
"This will be the beginning of the passing of the baton, from Michael Jordan to Grant Hill. I could see Doug leaving him out there long enough to win it," said Albert.
What used to be known as the "Stay in School Jam," that is when NBA players were either staying in or actually going to school, gets the new moniker of "NBA TeamUp Celebration" (Channel 11, TNT, Nickelodeon, BET; noon) and kicks off the official All-Star celebration tomorrow, followed by the real highlight of the weekend, All-Star Saturday (TNT, 7 p.m.) with the rookie All-Star Game, the three-point competition and the slam-dunk contest.
As you'll remember, Fox and Home Team Sports carried out the business equivalent of a steel-cage, fight-to-the-death match for the cable rights to the Orioles, Washington Bullets and Capitals that ended with HTS grabbing the prize and Fox filing a lawsuit.
So, how strange is it that Fox Sports Net, the umbrella name for the collection of regional sports networks that Fox and Liberty control, announced yesterday that HTS and Midwest Sports Channel, which like HTS is owned by Westinghouse, have become affiliates and will both receive and supply programming to Fox?
Very strange indeed, though an HTS spokesman said the move has no financial significance, but allows the Bethesda-based channel access to many Fox Sports Net programs, including college football and basketball games.
Around the dial
The Maryland men and women's basketball teams take to the airwaves this weekend, with the men traveling to Clemson tomorrow (Channel 54, noon), while the women go to Duke (HTS, noon) on Sunday. Other men's games of interest this weekend find North Carolina playing host to Virginia tomorrow (Channel 2, 2 p.m.) and Villanova traveling to Kentucky on Sunday (Channel 13, 3 p.m.)
CBS kicks off its expanded NASCAR schedule Sunday with the 50-mile Busch Clash, a 20-lap sprint around the Daytona Speedway, site of next week's Daytona 500. The race will air live at noon on Washington's Channel 9 and on tape at 12: 05 a.m. on Channel 13.
Now that we're inside a year to go before the opening ceremonies of the 1998 Olympic Winter Games, CBS, the carrier of said games, is bringing more winter sports into your home with same- day coverage of the World Alpine Ski Championships from Sestriere, Italy, coming tomorrow at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m., both on Channel 13. And speaking of winter, Fox's featured NHL game tomorrow pits Detroit against Pittsburgh (Channel 45, 3 p.m.)
Three years ago, Oliver McCall planted Lennox Lewis on the canvas and took the heavyweight title away. Lewis will get a chance at revenge tonight in a 12-round title bout (HBO, 10 p.m.)
In case you hadn't noticed all those annoying promos and all the buildup on "SportsCenter," ESPN hosts its made-for-cable "ESPY Awards" on Monday night from Radio City Music Hall.
The actual hardware won't get handed out until 8 p.m., including a presentation of the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage to Muhammad Ali and an appearance by Bill Cosby, but the network has scheduled a pre-game show for 7: 30 and a post-game effort for 10: 30.
Overkill? You betcha, but host Jeff Foxworthy says viewers will get some fun along with the hype.
"That's what we'd like to do [have fun]," said Foxworthy. "There are some very serious awards shows out there, but this is sports and enjoyment, and that's the kind of show we want to do. It will be fun."
With all the promotional nonsense we've had to endure to this point, it had better be.
Pub Date: 2/07/97