After Spero Dedes declined the Lakers’ offer to step in as their new TV play-by-play man, Bill Macdonald was hired to replace Joel Meyers with just a one-year contract today.
Industry sources say that Dedes has already accepted a job as the radio and TV play-by-play man for the New York Knicks, a contract that will allow him to continue working for CBS on the NFL and college basketball. Dedes, a New Jersey native and a graduate of Fordham University in New York, is represented by Sandy Montag, an agent who has clients such as Bob Costas and John Madden.
The job effectively is replacing Mike Crispino on Knicks’ radio games on ESPN Radio 1050, but would allow Dedes to move to the MSG TV side when Mike Breen leaves to do a network assignment for ESPN or ABC.
Lakers media relations director John Black said the team had a “verbal agreement with Spero to be our new TV play-by-play announcer but he had a change of heart.”
Dedes did not return a phone call for immediate comment — ironically, a radio spot for a car repair service airing on the Lakers’ KSPN-AM (710) flagship station has Dedes doing the voice over identifying himself as the Lakers’ radio voice.
The 31-year-old has been on the radio for six seasons, replacing Meyers, who moved from radio to TV when Paul Sunderland’s contract was not renewed. Sunderland was the first to step in for Hall of Famer Chick Hearn when he fell ill and passed away in 2002.
When it came out that Meyers’ contract would not be renewed, Dedes was a natural choice to take over, but Dedes insisted there were too many options at the time for him to give the Lakers’ a solid confirmation and it would be presumptious to say he’d be hired.
Dedes had been doing NFL games and college basketball games for CBS and had been a host for the NFL Network and NBA TV.
Macdonald, who once stepped in for Meyers (off on an NFL playoff game broadcast) and called Kobe Bryant’s 81-point game at Staples Center in 2006, will do the games for FSW and KCAL-Channel 9 with Stu Lantz, who starts his 25th season with the Lakers as an analyst.
Macdonald, who signed his Lakers contract this morning, will keep his job at Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket through August, a place he’s worked for the last 25-plus years.
“How could I turn this offer down?” said Macdonald, who most likely would have been put in as the radio play-by-play man if Dedes stayed, having subbed in a half dozen times last season when Dedes did CBS network games. “I’m humbled and thrilled at the same time. I grew up listening to Chick Hearn, I grew up a Lakers fan, saw my first game at the Sports Arena in the ’60s, and I know I’m following two really good guys in Joel and Paul. It’s something to be able to sit in the best job in America.
“I understand it’ll be an adjustment for people. Not just here, but with Mike Brown now on the bench, too. But it’s ultimately about the game. I just want to bring my love for the game, and the energy and everything that should be there. It’ll always be Chick’s seat. I just want to do the fans right and the Lakers proud.
“And don’t forget that it’ll be tough leaving a place where I’ve been 27 years. That’s been my family, my association with Ducks and Angels and UCLA. It’s very hard to leave.”
There is a worst case scenario: Not only is there a chance Macdonald won’t get to do any games this season if there’s an NBA lockout, but Time Warner will likely have a say in who gets hired when its new deal with the Lakers kicks in for the 2012-13 season.
John Ireland, who has been KCAL Channel 9’s Lakers sideline reporter as well as a sports-talk show host on KSPN-AM, the Lakers’ flagship station, will step in as the radio play-by-play man starting next season, the team announced.
Ireland replaces Dedes and work with Mychal Thompson stay on as the radio analyst.
Ireland filled in on three Lakers radio broadcasts over the last two seasons and called games for the Clippers on radio from 1996-2000 when Ralph Lawler moved to the TV side.
Fernando Gonzalez, entering his 15th season as Lakers Spanish play-by-play announcer, and Jose “Pepe” Mantilla, who has served as color commentator for Lakers Spanish broadcasts since 1993, will stay with the games on 1330 ESPN Deportes, the team’s Spanish language flagship.