Skip to main content

ESPN, CBS/Turner Must Do Right by Dick Vitale: TRAINA THOUGHTS

1. Dick Vitale has been calling college basketball game for ESPN for 41 years. Forty. One. Yet, he has never called an NCAA Tournament game* simply because ESPN has never had the rights to the NCAA Tournament.

I added the asterisk because Vitale has called NCAA Tournament games for ESPN's international feed. However, that is not the same thing as calling the games for CBS and the U.S. audience.

Like his style or not, there has not been a bigger ambassador for college basketball than Vitale. No one has had more passion and enthusiasm for the sport. He should've been thrown a bone a long time ago, and ESPN should've worked out some kind of deal with CBS/Turner to allow Vitale to call a tournament game. 

There is precedence for an arrangement. ESPN's Jay Bilas was able to call tournament games for CBS/Turner for several years. And ESPN had TNT's Craig Sager work the sidelines for an NBA Finals game for the first and only time in his career in 2016.

With Vitale returning to work last night for the first time since being diagnosed with cancer in October, the time is now for ESPN and CBS/Turner to make this right.

I'm not saying Vitale has to call a Final Four. I'm not saying Vitale has to work the whole tournament. All I'm saying is, let the guy call one tournament game some time this March and give him a well-deserved thrill.

Here's what Vitale said in 2013 when he got the job to call the tournament for the international audience.

"I'm on cloud nine," Vitale told USA Today. "It's the last chapter of my life, or my career. They just called me today [about the assignment] and it blew me away."

If that was Vitale's reaction to calling the international feed, we can't imagine how he'd react to being allowed to call a game on the main feed.

This isn't about college basketball. This isn't about business. This is about humanity. 

Make it happen.

2. The latest SI Media Podcast is a special all–Traina Thoughts Thanksgiving edition.

SI Media Podcast regular Sal Licata from WFAN and SNY TV joined me for the full show.

You can listen to the podcast below or download it on Apple, Spotify and Stitcher.

You can also watch the SI Media Podcast on YouTube.

3. JJ Redick just got hired by ESPN, but he's already got this whole debate thing down pat. During some kind of nonsensical discussion with Stephen A. Smith yesterday about LeBron James's toughness, Redick came out guns blazing. He wondered if Smith actually believed what he was saying and called Smith's take "crazy." Then he dropped the hammer with this exchange:

Smith: "What I'm saying to you is this.:If you watch the game ..."

Redick: "I played the game. I played against LeBron."


4. Here is this week's installment of the best weekly segment on all of sports TV: Bad Beats.

5. Yesterday, Nov. 23, 2021, was a magical and memorable day for Giannis.

6. Big props to Patriots star linebacker Matt Judon. When you have a wildly controversial food take, the key is to stick by it no matter the blowback. After trashing mac and cheese yesterday, Judon didn't back down.

7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: Happy Thanksgiving.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on AppleSpotify or Stitcher. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.