The Los Angeles Times this week laid out the story of how the Clippers new play-by-play teams came together this week. AND IN DOING SO, THE TIMES HAS CAST A SPOTLIGHT ON A VAST CONSPIRACY TO STEAL IAN EAGLE, SARAH KUSTOK AND RICHARD JEFFERSON FROM YES AND PUT THEM IN THE SERVICE OF GYRATING STEVE BALLMER!!!
Luckily everything worked out well in the end. Not only did Eagle, Kustock and Jefferson all stick with YES, but Noah Eagle, Ian’s son, is now the radio voice of the Clippers!
Tom Hoffarth of the Times explains that the Clippers and its regional network, Prime Ticket, were in a bind last year when Ralph Lawler, their Hall of Fame TV announcer, informed everyone that he was retiring after a 40-year career. So the search for a replacement began.
One outcome of the Clippers’ process in vetting possible replacements for Lawler, who less than two weeks ago was honored by the Basketball Hall of Fame for his 40-year run with the team, was a reach-out to Ian Eagle, who has been with the Brooklyn Nets TV package for 25 seasons...
More problematic was securing a TV analyst. Looking outside again, the Clippers pursued Richard Jefferson and Sarah Kustok, both of whom worked with Ian Eagle on the Nets’ YES network telecasts. After coming in for interviews and auditions with the Clippers, each of them declined. Kustok in particular could have been a statement-making hire for the franchise.
Eventually, the Clippers stayed inside, moved people in the organization up a notch. In doing so they left left ONE vacancy ... play-by-play on the radio. Enter Noah Eagle, 22-year-old Syracuse grad who already has plenty of experience not to mention the genes!
[The Ian Eagle interview] ended up producing the recommendation of his 22-year-old son, Noah, who has been working on NBATV’s summer league. It’s a low-risk, high-reward opportunity for both parties that could cultivate another franchise voice in the coming decade.
And to top it off, the Clippers are now the home of Mike Fratello, who’ll do rotating analysis on TV. Fratello left the Nets two years ago.
Crisis passed! All good! Everybody’s employed!
So, a couple of things: the pursuit of the three just adds to the belief that the YES Network team is the best in the business. However, one has to wonder if the Nets weren’t on a winning trajectory whether a Ballmer-led team with two superstars would have been a bigger temptation.