Bill Raftery and Ian Eagle on the NCAA tournament, not being on Twitter and booze.
1. CBS and Turner held a media event Tuesday for its upcoming coverage of the NCAA tournament. I was fortunate enough to spend some time chatting with Bill Raftery and Ian Eagle, who used to broadcast New Jersey Nets games together from 1995 to 2002. Raftery will call this year's title game with Jim Nantz and Grant Hill, while Eagle will call games through the regional finals for the first time with Jim Spanarkel. Here are the highlights of that conversation.
Jimmy Traina: Have either of you thought about joining Twitter?
Bill Raftery: No, and I’ll tell you why. Because at 11:30 at night, when I’ve had my 10th drink, I’m liable to say something that will cost me my job.
JT: Have you ever gone out drinking with Charles Barkley?
BR: Oh yeah.
JR: Who can last longer in the bar?
BR: Oh, I’ve given up. Charles is strong. You know what’s interesting. I don’t know how much he drinks because he’s always engaged [with people]. He’s not sitting there having drink after drink. He just loves being around people. He’s got so much soul. There’s so much substance to him that’s lost in the comedy.
Ian Eagle: He’s also genuinely interestied in everybody. He’ll get a big crowd around him and he’s aware of who they are, where they fit in. He’s a really gregarious person.
JT: Do you guys fill out brackets?
IE: I did one my first year doing the tournament, 1998. I was still doing the WFAN pool at that point. It was my first year doing the tournament. I have all this information in my head and I’m watching the ticker on the bottom of the screen as action is happening on the court and I realize that my priorities were completely out of whack. I was so pissed off that Team X was losing and it was affecting my bracket. I realized I need to put an end to this so I have not filled out a bracket since 1998.
JT: Give everyone a sleeper team for their brackets.
BR: Michigan. Because I had them this week, but they’re not a sleeper team. I think one of the Pac-12 teams that barely gets in. Arizona State because they have three guards that can really play—if they get in. I like Washington because of the 2-3 zone, if they get in.
IE: I would say Florida based on guard play, experience from last year. I like their head coach Mike White a lot. He knows how to push the right buttons so that would be a team that is capable, but with all that said, all of these teams could get clipped early. It’s truly a wide-open year.
JT: Raf, do you realize how popular you are?
BR: Have you talked to my wife and children?
IE: Billy’s a humble man, so I can say it for him. Who he is comes through. You can’t fake that. So anyone that would know Billy off the air loves him. So the reality is that resonates with people.
BR: Not those Seton Hall alums that didn’t like the way I coached. They’re either dead now or so old they’ve forgotten anyway.
JT: What is your favorite New York City watering hole?
BR: Runyon's was the place of choice. There’s not really hang places anymore, so a lot of times we go to P.J. Clarke's and we go to the back room. As a kid, when I was dating my wife, that was a big deal.
JT: What is your drink of choice?
IE: How much tape do you have?
BR: I’ve gone from beer, which we used to do a lot with the Nets because we had to get up early and you gotta be able to function, so now it’s a little vodka/cranberry out of the gate.
IE: It used to be a little ‘buca.
BR: No more ‘buca. Mostly wine at dinner. I’ve gotten better—more discriminate in my taste.
2. It was announced Tuesday that popular NFL ref Ed Hochuli was putting the guns away and retiring. In a nice twist, Ed's son, BJ, has been promoted and will be a ref next season. We'll miss Ed's over-the-top explanations every Sunday.
3. Major props to Kevin Love for opening up about his recent bout with panic attacks and taking care of his mental health.
4. You know what's great about baseball? Both of these guys play the same sport.
5. LeBron James is still the greatest show on earth, on and off the court.
6. Kevin Hart gave full play-by-play details of his quest to hold the Super Bowl trophy after the Eagles beat the Patriots to Conan O'Brien last night.
7. RANDOM WRESTLING VIDEO OF THE DAY: The WWE announced yesterday that Hillbilly Jim will be inducted into its Hall of Fame this year. This old-school clip shows just how over he was when he first came into the then-WWF.
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IN CLOSING: Sorry. Still don't care about Ronda Rousey in the WWE.