This month ESPN will bring together two of their biggest basketball names for a one time event – NBA studio analyst Magic Johnson will cross over to the college game to call a matchup involving his alma mater, Michigan State, with Dick Vitale. Earvin will join Vitale and Mike Tirico for the Spartans home game with Indiana for his first college basketball telecast.
"ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale and former Michigan State standout Magic Johnson will pair up with announcer Mike Tirico on ESPN’s telecast of No. 1 Indiana at No. 12 Michigan State on Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 7 p.m. ET.
Even though he is a fan and follower of college basketball, the February 19 telecast will be the first time Johnson has worked a game as an on-air analyst. Vitale and Johnson, long-time friends, have never worked an event together. Johnson was recruited by Vitale, then-head coach of the University of Detroit men’s basketball team."
This "announcing event" is quite reminiscent of Chris Berman stepping into the booth for a Monday Night Football game lat fall where the game is taking a back seat to the big-name talent involved. Here you have a Top 15 matchup possibly involving the #1 team in the country and the entire evening will be Earvin propaganda, especially with the game taking place at Michigan State. The quotes from the two in the ESPN release make you wonder how there will be any time to focus on the floor with Vitale and Magic giving unconditional praise and adulation to each other in the booth.
In the grand scheme of life, the American sports fabric isn't going to be ripped apart by ESPN placating Magic Johnson and Dick Vitale by giving them one game to call together. They're two good guys who have never had the opportunity to work together before. Johnson isn't good in the studio though and I'm not hopeful he'll be any better in the booth. It takes a lot of time for Magic to try to make his points so I don't know how he'll be able to get in and get out quickly with the speed of a basketbal game and a crowded three man booth.
The film of this game isn't going to be used in any broadcasting schools, but at least we know Vitale and Johnson will enjoy the experience.