Queens, NY – NBC Sports announced a changing of the guard last Thursday as Whitestone native and Bayside High alum Mike Tirico was named the anchor of the Peacock Network’s 2018 Winter Olympics coverage in South Korea and for all foreseeable Olympics for which NBC has broadcast rights.
Tirico succeeds Bob Costas and during the NBC Sports teleconference he made it a point to say that both he and Costas are Queens natives. Tirico mentioned that one of his biggest thrills was sitting next to the late Jim McKay on a flight in 2002.
McKay was the gold standard of sports anchors regardless of the event in question. Baby boomers will recall how he conveyed the tension of the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics and the tragedy that befell the Israeli team as eleven of its members were kidnaped and murdered by a Palestinian terrorist organization.
Black September. It was as difficult a broadcasting assignment that anyone could ever find themselves in and McKay was able to show that a sports reporter was still a newsman.
Bob Costas has never been shy to discuss the politics of sports and other issues that dwarf what is happening on the playing field in a thoughtful manner that I’ve never found to be gratuitous grandstanding just to create attention. It will be interesting to see how comfortable Mike Tirico will be to emulate Costas in this very important regard.
Queensbridge’s own, the inimitable Metta World Peace (the man formerly known as Ron Artest), is in his sixteenth year in the NBA and he returned to New York last Monday as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers who were taking on the Knicks. The Lakers ran the Knicks out of the Garden that night which understandably infuriated both head coach Jeff Hornacek and most of the paying customers. It also set off arguably the worst week in Knicks history.
“I still have family living in Queensbridge. My dad is coming to the game tonight,” he told me before the game. He was surprised to learn that Knicks center Kyle O’Quinn, many years his junior, was from our borough. I told him that Kyle grew up in South Jamaica and Metta said that he would try to make an introduction after the game.
Metta offered a driving tip to anyone planning on making a visit to Los Angeles. “I live in Westwood which is midway between downtown and the beaches. I’ve learned to stay off I-10 when I have to go to the Staples Center and to take Pico Boulevard instead. You hit lights but it’s better than taking Sunset, Olympic or Wilshire Boulevards.”
I gave Metta a copy of the Queens Chronicle before making my farewell. “I remember this paper!” he said with a smile. You can take the man out of Queens but you can’t take Queens out of the man.