Elliott Kalb is a five-time Sports Emmy winner, working for NBC Sports for 15-years, and currently for HBO Sports, TNT, and CBS-Westwood One Radio Network. Known to many as Mr. Stats, he’s written two books, posted an excellent article with us and now he sits down with me to answers some questions.
Who’s been your favorite interview so far? Most surprising?
Since I’ve been promoting my books, my favorite interview has been Hall of Famer Rick Barry, who hosts a talk show on KNBR in SF. He told me that I should have ranked him 24th all time, since that was the number he always wore. I ranked him 22nd.
Over the years, I’ve had a chance to interview (or write questions for) most great athletes of the last two decades. My favorite was talking to Pat Riley about his ability to teach and motivate. I asked him if he felt he was wasting years teaching (mainly) to 12-millionaires, rather than hundreds of young people in a classroom. Riley is a tremendous interview.
What’s the most memorable sports moment you witnessed live?
Where do I begin? I produced NBC’s baseball coverage from the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where the USA team defeated a heavily favored Cuba team. I was there at the 1988 World Series, when Kirk Gibson hit a miraculous homer. I was there for each of Michael Jordan’s 35 NBA Finals games. Super Bowl XXIII, when Joe Montana led a last minute comeback. The last two Super Bowls, when the Patriots narrowly defeated the Panthers and Eagles. Game 7 of the 2003 Western Conference Finals between the Kings and Lakers. Game 7 of the 2000 Western conference Finals, when the Lakers overcame a 15-point defecit to the Trailblazers. Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. Game 7’s are almost always memorable.
Who’s your all-time sports hero?
Wilt Chamberlain was my hero growing up. I’ve been chronicling the career of Shaquille since he came into the NBA, and very proud that I was the first to write that he was the best of all time.
What’s been the harshest criticism of your “Who’s Better, Who’s Best? in Basketball” book?
That I ranked Shaq first merely to sell books.
What’s your reaction to the Congressional hearings with MLB regarding steroid use?
If Congress wanted truly to help kids (as they said) they would worry about stopping the sale of alcohol at sports events. Congress found a way to look good. Bud Selig was made to look a fool. Of course, he wants a tougher steroids policy, but his hands are tied by the players association and Don Fehr.
Who do you think will be the #1 pick in this year’s NFL Draft? Why?
I follow the NFL, the NBA, and MLB very closely. I’m afraid I don’t have the time to follow college football the same way. I do know the Niners need a quarterback, and the Dolphins need a running back.
When the next group of players is picked, who do you think should be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame?
One of the best trios of all time left the game in 2001. Tony Gwynn, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Mark McGwire. When it is their turn, I am looking forward to that. Guys like Tony Perez or the recently retired Roberto Alomar are close, but no cigar in my opinion.
Do you think gambling hurts or helps collegiate sports? Professional sports?
I love fantasy leagues, but I think they are starting to hurt sports because anytime players and/or fans care more about individual stats than team goals, it hurts the sport. No doubt pools help interest in the NCAA tournament.
Do you miss the NHL? Do you know anyone that does?
I’m afraid I’m not much of a hockey fan. I feel for the many people who make their income off of the sport, though.
Do you think professional women’s leagues like the WNBA will succeed in the long run? Why?
The women’s leagues have created a niche. It will never rival the main sports, but I am happy for those involved and the people that enjoy them.
What do Bob Costas, Cris Collinsworth, Dan Marino and Chris Carter think of TheSportsCritics.com?
They all enjoy debating the issues, so I’m sure they would like the site.
When will your book signing tour make it to Southern California?
I will be in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 14.
It’s draft time and the following people make up the draft for your sports organization. Which people are FIRST ROUND picks, which are LAST ROUND picks and which go UNDRAFTED? Why?
FIRST ROUND – Greatest baseball player of all time.
FIRST ROUND – Greatest non-center to ever play in the NBA.
LAST ROUND – As a manager, he bet on his own team some days, which means he bet against his team on others…that’s what I have a problem with.
FIRST ROUND – I worked with Bill and I am one of his guys. A Jersey guy. A guy he can hang with at the diner. A guy that is loyal to him, and would go through a wall for. He needles me, gets on my case, and made me work twice as hard for him as anyone else.
LAST ROUND – I wrote a better baseball book than him–an old fashioned baseball book that could have been written at any point in time…but this schmuck has the best-seller?
LAST ROUND – I wrote in the NBA book almost two years ago, that any great perimeter player (Tracy McGrady, for instance) would have won those three titles that Kobe won. Shaq made the difference. He has proven me correct.
SECOND ROUND – I still think of him as a batting champ, an excellent hitter, and he should have been replaced for defense in the 9th inning of Game 6 of the 1986 WS.
LAST ROUND – Still can’t stomach him after he let Strahan sack him intentionally for record.
Very underrated manager…and as a longtime Yankees fan, he’ll always have a place in my heart.
FIRST ROUND – I like Parcells, so I like Knight. Of course. He represents so much about what is good for his sport.
FIRST ROUND – Owners I like more than him: Al Davis, the Maloof brothers. Also, although he wasn’t an owner, Pat Croce has been a friend, role model, and the real deal.
FIRST ROUND – One of the greatest of all time. I ranked him 29th all time, and he’ll be better than Koufax if he does anything in the back end of his career.
Who’s Better, Who’s Best? I’ll take Randy Moss and Teri Hatcher over T.O. and Nicolette Sheridan.