The First Time I Tried to Talk Boston Celtics on a TV Call-In Show
Even though I now talk on the radio on a daily basis and probably say a lot of dumb things each day, I still cringe at a certain YouTube clip that features a much younger version of myself attempting to talk sports on television.
Back in the mid-to-late-1990s, there existed the most incredible and zaniest TV sports talk call-in program of all time. It aired weeknights, I think at 10 or 11 p.m., on New England Cable News. It was called Mike Adams’ Sports World, and it was absolutely amazing.
At the time, I was a college student at UMass Dartmouth and the world’s biggest Boston Celtics fan. I never missed Sports World, always wanting to hear the latest info and analysis on my favorite team combined with host Mike Adams’ goofy schtick, along with his sidekick Morry Levine.
In the summer of 1997, Celtics fans were the most excited they’d been since the original Big Three of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish won the team’s last championship 11 years earlier. The Celtics had been the worst team in the NBA during the 1996-97 season, and had earned the most ping pong balls in the NBA Draft Lottery in the hopes of landing center Tim Duncan out of Wake Forest.
They also had another lottery pick thanks to a deal with the Dallas Mavericks, and the ultimate dream was to end up with the No. 1 and No. 2 picks, and select Utah forward Keith Van Horn alongside Duncan. That would set up new Boston coach Rick Pitino for immediate success, and create a new dynastic run of championships for the Celtics.
It’s all my best friend Pat and I could talk about at the time, and one night, I decided I wanted to talk about it with Mike Adams.
I anxiously called the show’s phone number, 617-BIG-ED-HI, and waited to be pushed through on-air. An avid caller of radio stations and the former host of my own cable access call-in game show, I knew the drill. I heard the little noise that meant I was now live on the air.
“Tim in Ware-um,” Adams started off the call.
“Wareham, Mike,” I replied, because of course I had to correct the host, and there was some awkward back-and-forth for a few seconds. Adams’ guest that night, former Boston Bruins enforcer Lyndon Byers, jumped for a punchline.
“Put the bong down, Tim,” LB said. I’m not sure I knew what a bong was at that time in my life.
I then asked my question. “Say the Celtics do draft Duncan and Van Horn with their picks, who should they keep and who should they get rid of?”
There’s a little bit of thinking on the part of Adams and Byers, including LB thinking Van Horn was a point guard instead of a forward. Let’s cut him some slack; he had only been retired for a few years after a long career in pro hockey, and had taken a lot of shots to the head in his many, many fights on the ice.
Then here I come, bringing in love of flawed players Antoine Walker and Eric Williams in my absolute worst Masshole accent.
“You’ve got to keep your Walker, you’ve got to keep your Williams,” I said. Walker came out more like Wahkuh.
Adams and Byers also mention some of the other Celtics “greats” of that era that were worth keeping, like David Wesley, Rick Fox and Todd Day. At the same time, Levine started poking Byers with a hockey stick, instigating a play fight and allowing me to use profanity for the first time (and not the last, I’m sure) on public airwaves.
“Morry, kick his ass,” I said.
Then Adams brought up the butt of all Celtics jokes of that time period, Acie Earl, and I followed that up by dropping the name of Blue Edwards. Bad memories indeed.
Being all of 19 years old at the time, I sound like a complete dweeb, even referring to the Celtics as “we,” as if I somehow played for the team – a cardinal sin when discussing a sports franchise to any seasoned sports journalist or commentator. I’m sure Adams cringed when he heard that.
You can hear my lame call beginning at 7:04 of this segment. Enjoy it in all of its '90s glory.
It’s hard to imagine that just four years after this terrible phone call, I’d be the beat writer covering the Boston Celtics for the Standard-Times – or that a decade later, I’d be in the TD Garden locker room as the Celtics were celebrating their next NBA Championship.
Of course, that championship was with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, because way back in 1997, the Celtics ended up in a worst-case scenario and only got the No. 3 and No. 6 picks in that draft.
They missed out on a future Hall of Famer in Duncan, who had a long career with the San Antonio Spurs, and on Van Horn as well. They ended up drafting Chauncey Billups at No. 3, and he was shipped out of town halfway through his rookie season. They took Ron Mercer at No. 6, and he was gone after two seasons in Boston. Pitino was gone shortly thereafter himself, and the Celtics languished in mediocrity for another six seasons before Danny Ainge built Boston back into a contender.
During my time covering the Celtics, I also got to make frequent on-screen appearances on another cable TV sports show, CN8’s SportsPulse, talking about the Celtics and the New England Patriots. I even got the chance to make some appearances on NBA TV as well.
I’d like to think I’ve lost the accent, even if I’ve retained the same dumb sports takes.