The prominent presence once again of Tim Duncan and Kevin Durant in the NBA playoffs serves as a perpetual reminder to Celtics fans that their favorite franchise is long overdue for some fortunate bounces — not of the basketball, but of the ping-pong balls.
If you require a reminder that the franchise’s fate was altered when the draft lottery did not go its way in 1997 (when the Spurs hit the Duncan jackpot) and again in 2007 (when Durant and Greg Oden were the prizes), you must have a short memory or a longstanding lack of interest in the NBA.
This year’s post-Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett journey to the lottery doesn’t come with the best odds; the Celtics have a 10.3 percent chance of landing the top pick, the fifth-best shot. But because there are at least three superb prospects, there is significant intrigue about where the Celtics will land, and it should make for compelling television.
ESPN has coverage of the actual lottery starting at 8 p.m. Tuesday. After the draft order (and, to a degree, the Celtics’ future) is determined, Comcast SportsNet New England will be the place for Boston fans to either rejoice or vent, depending on the whims of the ping-pong balls.
At 8:30 p.m., CSNNE will air a live 90-minute program titled, “C The Future: Lottery Night Live,’’ and the network’s approach is thorough team coverage of the team it covers.
Play-by-play voice Mike Gorman will be on site at the lottery in Times Square in New York, as will Celtics managing partner Steve Pagliuca (who is representing the team during the drawing) and team president Rich Gotham. Reporter A. Sherrod Blakely will be stationed in Boston, while Kyle Draper, Dalen Cuff, and Tim Welsh will be stationed at the CSNNE studios in Burlington. Tommy Heinsohn and sideline reporter Abby Chin will provide reaction from an event for season ticket-holders in Boston.
President of basketball operations Danny Ainge, who can be unfailingly candid in moments such as this, is scheduled to do a live phone interview with his reaction.
No matter whether the ping-pong balls bounce their way or not, the nearly real-time reaction from the Celtics decision-makers should make for riveting television.
Ryder got it right
It was reassuring in a sense that the decision by Entercom and WEEI to terminate John Ryder after 16 years at the company was not lost in WEEI’s most prominent roster shakeup of the week — the decision to drop Mike Mutnansky from the midday show and team up holdover Lou Merloni with former Patriot Christian Fauria and market newcomer Tim Benz.
As reported here over the weekend, Mutnansky, who had been the midday cohost with Merloni since February 2011, was reassigned, taking over as Red Sox pregame and postgame host. He will also contribute to Mike Adams’s “Planet Mikey” nighttime program while hosting the 10 p.m.-midnight shift. It is not difficult to see Ryder’s departure as collateral damage caused by the midday shakeup.
Which brings us to the reassuring part.
The reaction sent here via e-mail and social media was a heavy consensus of disappointment for Ryder and appreciation for the role he filled at WEEI. He deserves such acknowledgment; he was never obnoxious, loud, deliberately contrarian or controversial, characteristics that too often are emphasized and rewarded in sports radio.
It’s sad to say, but perhaps he would still be at the station — maybe even in the larger role that eluded him — had he made a heel turn from time to time.
But his attributes in his various roles at WEEI are scarcer in the business, and worthy of appreciation. He was the informed, patient, but no-nonsense studio host for the Red Sox and, when WEEI had the rights, the Celtics.
He fit perfectly as the knowledgeable, dryly funny sidekick to Adams on the nighttime program. He is a personality who sometimes fell into the background but is missed when he’s no longer around.
Ryder didn’t stay unemployed long; he landed a role with the Total Traffic and Weather Network. But he has long deserved better. 98.5 The Sports Hub has been careful not to hire perceived WEEI retreads. But adding Ryder to its already deep bench would be a worthwhile move.
Joe Castiglione will return to the Red Sox radio broadcast booth Friday after missing the past four games, including the entire series in Minnesota. The reason for his absence: His wife, Jan, was injured in a car accident Saturday, suffering a fractured sternum. Castiglione said he got the call Saturday night while leaving the ballpark. “So I flew home early Sunday to tend to her,’’ said Castiglione, who was quick to note WEEI and Entercom’s understanding in permitting him to take the time off. “She is on the road to recovery,” he said. “I have really missed being away.” . . . CSNNE scored comparatively big with its postgame coverage of the Bruins throughout the Canadiens series. The Michael Felger-hosted postgame programming averaged a 1.02 household rating over the series, with a 1.79 among men 25-54 and a 1.0 among all viewers 25-54. That was significantly higher across the board than NESN’s numbers, though the Bruins’ home network does have a viable explanation: four of the seven postgames aired on NESN Plus. And NESN did outrate CSNNE during pregame coverage . . . NBC announced that the excellent Doc Emrick will be the play-by-play voice for all Eastern Conference finals games. His absence was noted by Bruins fans whenever Kenny Albert was called upon to call a game during the Canadiens series. Now it will be Emrick surely noting the Bruins’ absence.