Saturday 2/23 NBC 5:30 PM
?Kings at Mavericks
Forget a program. You can't tell the players on the teams with the NBA's best records through Sunday without an atlas. Eight members of these squads were born outside the U.S.
Sunday 2/24 NBC 3 PM
?Olympic Men's Hockey Final
The U.S. will be coached by Herb Brooks, but it wouldn't be a Miracle on Ice if this squad, constituted entirely of NHL players, wins gold in Salt Lake City. The veteran-laden lineup features 15 members of the American team that won the 1996 World Cup, including Rangers goalie Mike Richter (above). The home ice advantage could be critical against a heavyweight field.
sizzling & fizzling
Who Was Hot and Who Was Not
? Bob Costas' interview last Thursday with ISU president Ottavio Cinquanta was well done, especially when Costas got Cinquanta to concede that it was "very difficult, [but] not impossible" for Canada's Jamie Sale and David Pelletier to receive duplicate gold medals.
?It was nice for NBC to honor Dale Earnhardt's memory by planning to stay silent during Lap 3 of Sunday's Daytona 500. But the commentators correctly broke that silence well before the lap ended to explain the sudden falloff by Tony Stewart, who was a prerace favorite.
? NBC's 72 rating for last Saturday's U.S.- Russia game was 47% higher than that for any hockey-game broadcast in the U.S. since 1980, despite starting at 11:30 p.m. EST.
?International rules mandating that face-offs occur within 15 seconds of a stoppage in play have made Olympic hockey enjoyable to watch-except when NBC and CNBC insist on cramming in 30-second commercials, thereby regularly missing chunks of action.
?We're still waiting for NBC's NASCAR analysts Benny Parsons and Wally Dallenbach to give their opinions (sample from Parsons: "That's up to NASCAR") on whether Sterling Marlin should have been penalized for racing below the yellow line late in the Daytona 500.
? ESPN's paltry presence at these Olympics is evidenced by the network's sending two more broadcasters to Monday's NFL expansion draft (five) than to Salt Lake City (three).