4 p.m.: LeBron admits Heat's comments hurt him; Media notes: NBA ratings; Familiar face in mix for national job; Simmons show launches; Marlins' analyst problem; ESPN's newest UM project; Local radio and more
Quick thing from LeBron James we found interesting in the wake of Cleveland's championship:
"When I decided to leave Miami," James told ESPN, "I'm not going to name any names, I can't do that. But there were some people that I trusted and built relationships with in those four years [who] told me I was making the biggest mistake of my career.
"And that [expletive] hurt me. And I know it was an emotional time that they told me that because I was leaving. They just told me it was the biggest mistake I was making in my career. And that right there was my motivation."
ESPN's Dave McMenamin previously identified Pat Riley as the source of James' discontentment.
"He felt taken for granted," McMenamin said, "like, 'Look, I just gave you four years of my prime and you're not going to be comfortable with my decision and root me on? You're going to try to make me feel bad going out the door?' "
Some media notes on a Monday:
• As expected, Game 7 of the NBA Finals produced monster numbers for ABC, locally and nationally. But as expected, they didn’t come anywhere close to Super Bowl ratings.
The 18.9 overnight rating for Game 7 (the rating for 56 big markets) topped the 17.7 overnight for Heat-Spurs Game 7 in 2013 and was the highest for any ABC or ESPN program in a decade. Lakers-Celtics Game 7 drew an 18.2 overnight on ABC in 2010.
But the 18.9 is dwarfed by the 49.0 overnight rating for this year's Super Bowl on CBS.
2 p.m. Update: Nationally, the 30.8 million viewers were the most for an NBA game since Game 6 of the 1998 Finals.
Locally, Game 7 last night drew a 24.3 rating in Miami Fort Lauderdale, ranking fourth in the country among those 56 metered markets, behind only Cleveland, San Francisco and Columbus, Ohio.
That means 24.3 percent of Miami-Ft. Lauderdale homes with TV sets were tuned in, with one ratings point equaling about 16,500 homes.
By comparison, Heat-Raptors Game 7 did an 18.7 rating in Miami-Fort Lauderdale. Our Super Bowl rating (38.1) was lowest among 56 markets.
• Because ESPN has given him more assignments that expected (including the College World Series), Eduardo Perez has worked fewer Marlins games than the team anticipated – at least six fewer to date. That’s unfortunate, because Perez has been the best of the Marlins’ four new TV analysts.
That also means Fox has used Preston Wilson more than it expected. Al Leiter, working a small package of games, is assigned to the Marlins-Cubs four-game series this weekend.
Tommy Hutton remains very much missed.
• ESPN is doing a 30 for 30 episode on the historic 1988 Notre Dame-UM game, which the Fighting Irish won 31-30 in a game filled with high drama and a VERY questionable officiating call that cost Miami. A run date has not been set.
• As The Big Lead reported, I’m also hearing that Max Kellerman is the favorite to replace Fox-bound Skip Bayless as Stephen A. Smith’s sparring partner on First Take, IF he wants the job. Kellerman and Smith have done an off-air audition together.
But former South Florida radio personality Jorge Sedano, who hosts a night-time ESPN Radio show with Israel Gutierrez, is also in the mix if things don’t work out with Kellerman, who already has a good gig in Los Angeles (working on ESPN’s Sports Nation and doing a local radio show).
It’s unclear if Kellerman would automatically take the job to replace Bayless. First Take is filmed at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn.
As The Big Lead noted (and I confirmed), Sedano and Will Cain will both get on-air auditions with Stephen A. in July. ESPN figures to make a decision soon after that.
The Ticket often airs the two-hour Sedano/Gutierrez show at 10 p.m., on an one-hour tape delay.
• Bill Simmons’ new HBO series, Any Given Wednesday, debuts at 10 p.m. Wednesday, with Ben Affleck and Charles Barkley his first guests.
“I’m all for, like, who can I click with,” Simmons said during a promotional appearance on NBC last week, noting the program will include sports, plus “a little pop culture, some tech, a little ‘where stuff’s going’ type of things.”
When NBC's Savannah Guthrie characterized Simmons’ departure from ESPN as, in part, “personality conflict” between Simmons and the network, Simmons replied: “I look at it the other way. I made it 14 years. It's a place that people that are outspoken or creative or frustrated creative people, they're not really meant to be there for two decades.
“So I look back and I think, like seven years, eight years might have been probably the max for it. ... We did some great stuff -- created ‘30 for 30,’ created Grantland, the stuff we did on ESPN.com. I look back and I'm amazed by all the stuff we’re able to do.”
Guthrie read a statement from ESPN President John Skipper in which Skipper said the company "severed our relationship with Bill because of his repeated lack of respect for this company and more importantly the people who work here.”
To which Simmons said: “What's interesting about that is at Grantland, I had 50 people that worked with me there, and 27 of them now are with me at The Ringer. Math doesn’t lie.”
• Dish Network, which is in seven million homes, has dropped NFL Network after the sides couldn’t come to terms on a licensing agreement.
This will be an issue during the season, when NFL Net carries seven games that aren’t on CBS or NBC. (Those two free TV networks combine to carry 10 other Thursday games that are also simulcast on NFL Net).
Expect DirecTV to push hard to lure those Dish subscribers.
• 790 The Ticket is apparently having a difficult time filling two open slots --- the early afternoon co-host job (alongside Leroy Hoard and Brian "The Beast" London) from 1 to 3 p.m. and the evening co-host job (alongside Josh Friedman) from 7 to 10 p.m.
Ticket general manager Doug Abernethy said he’s unsure how either slot will be filed.
The 1 to 3 job opened when Eric Reed quit the radio business, and the 7 to 10 p.m. opening was created when Chris Wittyngham was promoted to the 4 to 7 p.m. show, alongside Ethan Skolnick.
The Ticket wanted to hire NBC 6’s Adam Kuperstein to work the 1 to 3 p.m. show with Hoard, but Kuperstein could not do it because he has been assigned to co-anchor NBC 6’s new 4 p.m. newscast and the radio station didn’t want him doing the 790 show from NBC 6’s studios.
The Ticket also likes Will Manso, but Channel 10 would not permit him to take the job because he already has two jobs (for WPLG and Heat studio work on Fox Sports Sun).
That leaves The Ticket choosing among a few local sportswriters, in-house candidate Brendan Tobin and anyone else who surfaces.
Greg Likens, the former Dolphins host on previous rights-holder WINZ (940), has done one one-air audition for the evening slot and would be a good fit alongside Friedman. So would London.
• Former longtime Orlando Sentinel columnist Larry Guest has written a book "Sports Icons 'R' Funny" with unique anecdotes about a bunch of sports celebrities with ties to the state, including Don Shula, Jimmy Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal and Steve Spurrier. For more information, go to larryguest.com.