Written by Ron Reid
Inquirer Staff Writer
May 13, 2003
From the Philadelphia perspective, Comcast SportsNet could hardly have delivered a more pleasing telecast than the one it presented Saturday night detailing the 76ers’ 93-83 playoff victory over the Pistons.
Not that it didn’t start off without a few worrisome facts. One pregame graphic pointed out that the Sixers had never won an NBA playoff series after trailing two games to none, the way they started the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Another showed that the Sixers were 37-16 when Keith Van Horn had played at least 30 minutes but only 3-14 when he played fewer than 30 minutes. Which Van Horn would show up?
A raucous sellout crowd at the First Union Center, ready with high-decibel cheers and twirling white towels, backed the home team at the top of its collective voice, psychologically helping the Sixers rebound, in every sense of the word.
(By the way, shouldn’t those towels be some color other than white, a hue that signifies surrender? And isn’t it a disgrace for a reputed sports town like Philadelphia to be cheering its team with those cornball Thunderstix?)
The Comcast announcing team of Marc Zumoff and Steve Mix may be the best associated with any Philadelphia team. They never missed a beat or a story line describing the action, and you got the feeling both were happy in their work, which was exceedingly professional.
When Van Horn scored on a circle move around Derrick Coleman, Mix said: “They worked on that this morning.”
Mix also pointed out early on that Pistons center Ben Wallace, nursing an injured left knee, was having trouble jumping and had gone eight minutes without a rebound.
When the fans treated Pistons rookie Tayshaun Prince to thunderous booing as he approached the free-throw line, Zumoff said: “Those are the fans . . . saying he can come to Philadelphia anytime.”
Replays also proved Zumoff was right when he pointed out that a three-point Detroit bucket had been launched a moment or two after time had expired on the shot clock.
A couple of fans added some levity to the lopsided contest. When the Pistons’ Jon Barry drew his second foul moments after he got into the game, and instantly began protesting his innocence, a Sixers fan could be heard shouting: “Jon! Jon! Hey, Jon! Shut up, Jon!”
Another fan saved his salvo for late in the fourth quarter when 37-year-old Danny Manning came in for Detroit. He simply yelled: “You’re tired, Danny! You’re tired, Danny!”
He probably was right.
The worst thing about the telecast? Those obnoxious Gary Barbera car commercials, which are irritating beyond belief. Why is some lout always yelling in a car commercial?
One night later on the TNT network, the Sixers tied the series at two games apiece with a 95-82 victory in which Allen Iverson scored 36 points and had 11 assists.
John Thompson, the former Georgetown coach who now works as a game analyst, made a telling point when he said: “One thing I’ve been impressed with, when Detroit got hot, the Sixers intensified their defense.”
They did indeed, and a legion of fans hopes that trend continues into June, if that’s what it takes to secure an NBA championship .