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Without question, Walton is master of overstatement on NBA telecasts


WHETHER HE'S pontificating on ESPN or ABC, Bill Walton tosses off superlatives left and right like he used to dispense the ball out of the post for the Portland Trail Blazers.

No, that's not correct. At least those passes he threw for the Blazers were well-thought-out.

It's not enough for Walton to compliment someone. Everyone has to be one of the all-timers. On Wednesday night, David Robinson was described as one of the greatest forces in NBA history, and Gregg Popovich is already bound for the Hall of Fame.

Now, Robinson was a terrific player, but would most observers place him in the "force" category of Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar? And Popovich could win his third NBA title with the San Antonio Spurs this season, but the fact is he has not yet and is coaching in only his ninth season. That plaque in Springfield sounds a bit premature.

What a contrast to see Russell as a guest studio analyst on ABC's Monday telecast. Russell actually seemed to be thinking before giving responses. And even if that was just a function of Russell's tendency to ramble a bit, it was a break from the nonstop pronouncements from the former Big Redhead.

Three times during one half-inning of the Orioles-Boston Red Sox game Wednesday, when the Red Sox had the bases loaded and an Orioles pitcher had gone to a deep count, radio voice Jim Hunter felt the need to say the pitcher had "nowhere to put him." True, but here's somewhere to put that worn-out phrase - in the trash. ...

Somehow, I just couldn't help but laugh on Tuesday night when substitute radio guy Dave Raymond described Orioles catcher Sal Fasano's trip to the mound to speak to Daniel Cabrera by saying he was pretty sure Fasano was telling Cabrera, "You're listening to the WBAL/Orioles radio network." Other announcers have probably worked a station identification into a mound trip, but I hadn't heard it.

A news release from the NFL makes the point once again just how valuable a television commodity the NFL is. None of the network season finales - not the last episode of Everybody Loves Raymond (such a well-titled show), not the decisive American Idol - drew more viewers than the NFL's top telecasts.

Though it's not surprising the Super Bowl more than doubled the best finale with 86 million viewers, the two conference championship games and the Indianapolis Colts-New England Patriots divisional playoff game also ranked higher. The Raymond farewell got 33 million viewers, and CSI, Desperate Housewives and Idol each got about 30 million. The AFC title game had 44 million, the NFC 43 million and the Colts-Patriots 38 million.

And none of those players had hair as long as Bo Bice's. ...

Baltimore's sports viewers apparently weren't impressed by the presence of Danica Patrick in the Indianapolis 500. Though the race drew a 6.6 overnight rating - which measures the percentage of households watching in the nation's 55 biggest markets - Indy received 3.1 here. NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 did much better in Baltimore, with a 5.1 rating, matching the number the race did on average in the overnights.

Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams serves as co-host of Comcast SportsNet's daily highlights show from the Booz Allen Classic PGA event at Congressional Country Club next week. The shows, also anchored by Chick Hernandez, air at 6 p.m. starting Wednesday, with the final program at 8 p.m. on June 12. ...

Fox Sports Net debuts a Chris Myers interview show Sunday at 4 p.m. It bears the catchy title of CMI: Chris Myers Interview. CMI? Will Myers be taking DNA samples from his guests? The first show features the woefully underexposed Jose Canseco. ...

Sometimes you just have to trust your pop culture references. On SportsCenter this week, Linda Cohn - does she ever get a day off? - said something about remembering Paris or always having Paris while introducing French Open highlights. Then she hit us over the head by saying that was a Casablanca reference. C'mon, Linda, give the youngsters a little credit for knowing their movie history. And here's looking at you, kid.

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