For years, as an homage to Los Angeles sports radio icon Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton, Jim Rome would throw out an occasional phrase on his radio show: “React to me!”
And after an awkward appearance by the commissioner of the NBA on his program, are people ever reacting.
On Wednesday afternoon, Rome welcomed NBA commish David Stern into “the jungle.” As a semi-regular guest, Stern’s latest appearance appeared to be hunky dory – until Rome asked him if the NBA lottery was fixed.
“I have two answers for that,” Stern replied, then obliging to give Rome “the easy one: no.” He added that it was “ridiculous” for Rome to pose that question, and added, “Shame on you for asking.”
“I think it’s my job to ask, because I think people wonder,” Rome told Stern.
David Stern then channeled Howard Stern, coming out of left field with this gem: “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?”
Rome: “I don’t know if that’s fair” to ask that question.
Agreed with “Van Smack” on this one. I can see where Stern is coming from, because he admitted to Rome, “That’s not a question that I’ve been asked before by a respectable journalist.” But Stern picked the worst analogy. I mean, how many people are really wondering if there are any domestic disputes in the Rome household on a regular basis?
Also, Rome argued that it was indeed fair to ask if the NBA lottery was fixed because the league owned the New Orleans Hornets, which won this year’s NBA Draft Lottery.
Then, Rome just argued.
“You do things sometimes for cheap thrills,” Stern said to Rome. “You’ve been successful at making a career out of [cheap thrills], and I keep coming on.”
“I got no thrill out of that,” Rome admitted.
Unfazed, Stern rebounded with, “It’s a cheap trick.”
Rome then something that he might consider worthy of “racking”: “No, flopping is a cheap trick.”
Fast forward to Wednesday evening. A mere six hours after the interview, Jim Rome and David Stern are still trending worldwide on Twitter. And since he hosts an early evening show on CBS Sports Network, you would think the Stern interview debacle would buoy his ratings, at least on this day. Yet, for the 6 PM hour, the hour in which “Rome” airs on CBSSN, I could literally count a handful of tweets from folks only saying they were going to watch the show to see if he says anything about Stern. Also, subscribers to Verizon FiOS – like myself – tuning in to CBSSN for the first time since March Madness to watch “Rome” were greeted with a message reading that “you are not subscribed” to CBSSN. There goes a huge opportunity for exposure. The viewers that sampled CBSSN for March Madness programming that returned for some more possible “smack” on Stern now realize that they don’t actually have the network – or they could, if they pony up for it. Meanwhile, FiOS subscribers can receive NBC Sports Network without paying extra. The Eyeball needs to fix this if they have any hopes of strengthening their audience.
As you would expect, Stern’s appearance was the featured headline on JimRome.com. “The conversation gets a little contentious when Jim asks the commissioner about the 2012 NBA Draft Lottery,” the website read after Wednesday’s show.
Elsewhere on the Internets, the popular Rome listener message board Stucknut.com had a thread up about the Stern interview almost immediately after it was done. “Damn, never heard Stern run that kind of smack against Jim before,” wrote “dawickah” in one of the first of many replies. “Rome was trying to bait Stern, and Stern lost his temper and took it. Now it’s news and publicity for Rome,” replied Mike In Toledo. “Only thing better from Rome’s perspective would’ve been Stern dropping an f-bomb.”
And with Rome vs. Stern being such a huge media story, it’s only a matter of time before every sports radio host weighs in on it. One of the first to do so was Mike Taylor, the afternoon drive host on KTKR/Ticket 760 in San Antonio, which just happens to be the headquarters of Clear Channel, which owns not only KTKR, but Premiere Networks, which distributes Rome’s radio program.
“You’re the commissioner of the league, and you’re coming off like a middle-schooler,” Taylor said of Stern’s reaction to Rome throwing him “a fastball.” Taylor also thinks the Commish is “butthurt” because he’s “got a referee [Tim Donaghy] rotting in prison right now who outed your ass.” (Donaghy, who faced up to 25 years in prison, was actually released a few years ago.)
It will be interesting to see if many other sports radio hosts, local and national, and whether they share the same frequencies as Rome or not, share the same opinion.
And if Rome and Stern will still be trending on Twitter by then.