Ernie Johnson and his wife are enduring a pain no parent should have to know. The couple said goodbye to their 33-year-old son Michael over the weekend. The couple adopted Michael from an orphanage in Romania when he was 3. He dealt with complications from duchenne muscular dystrophy his entire life.
Naturally, Ernie was not on TNT Tuesday night for the network’s NBA doubleheader. Adam Lefkoe served as host of the show, which opened with a tribute to Ernie and Michael.
“Michael’s unwavering strength, his constant joy inspired everyone that had the chance to share time with him,” Lefkoe said.
He then threw to a video of Ernie Johnson in the Turner offices talking about Michael. He regularly shared Michael’s story and triumphs with groups all over the country.
After the video ended, the camera cut to the Inside the NBA desk, where the host’s chair usually reserved for Ernie Johnson sat empty. There surely was a shortage of dry eyes in the homes of people watching as Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kenny Smith shared memories of Michael and words of love of his parents.
“To see him, when Ernie would bring him, he and his wife would come around,” Smith said. “With Michael, we always talk about lighting up a room, but it’s a gravitational pull. Some people have a gravitational pull no matter who they are and how they are. Michael had a gravitational pull that you would move towards him in that respect. For those who don’t know, Ernie is usually the person that we lean on. So Ernie, this is the first time you need to lean on us.”
The studio team weren’t the only ones with kind words for the Johnson family. Kevin Harlan, who called the night’s opening game between the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks alongside Reggie Miller, shared his thoughts as well.
“Of course, all of us at Turner, and the entire NBA family, saddened by the passing of Michael Johnson, who became an inspiration, I think, for so many people not just within our small Turner community, but in the entire NBA. When they knew the story and heard Ernie speak about his son, it brought tears to your eyes, but a very inspirational message every time that he talked about his son,” he said.
Ernie Johnson took the time to thank everyone at the network via Twitter.
Scott Hanson Clarifies NFL RedZone Missteps During Raiders/Seahawks
Hanson believed in the moment that CBS was airing the overtime period to a national audience. But due to NFL broadcasting rules, the game was only available on select stations.
NFL RedZone host Scott Hanson ruffled feathers for many football fans Sunday when he told viewers to switch from the channel to their local CBS affiliates to see the conclusion of the Las Vegas Raiders and Seattle Seahawks game.
Unfortunately, for both viewers and Hanson, the game was only being shown in a small portion of the country, with the rest of the nation’s CBS affiliates already airing 60 Minutes. The game was also available to NFL Sunday Ticket subscribers.
Hanson took to Twitter Sunday evening to explain what happened on the air and to apologize for the miscalculation.
Hanson believed in the moment that CBS was airing the overtime period to a national audience. But due to NFL broadcasting rules, the game was only available to stations in the Las Vegas, Fresno, Sacramento, Reno, Eugene, Portland, Boise, Seattle, and Spokane markets on the west coast. Additionally, the game was available in Chicago, Tampa, Atlanta, and Charlotte.
He apologized for the mistake and said he would have more details at a later date.
ESPN Creates ACC/SEC Challenge
The series will begin for the 2023-2024 season, launching with 28 games played between the two sports.
ESPN, in conjunction with the ACC and SEC, is slated to announce the creation of the ACC/SEC Challenge for men’s and women’s basketball.
The series will begin for the 2023-2024 season, launching with 28 games played between the two sports. That number will grow to 30 contests when the SEC expands for the 2025-2026 season.
Every game in the challenge will be aired on an ESPN platform, with each side hosting the same amount of home games.
The creation of the event comes on the heels of the Big Ten’s new media rights deal with FOX, NBC, and CBS, ending a nearly four-decade relationship with ESPN. The ACC/Big Ten Challenge began in 1999, with the SEC/Big 12 Challenging beginning in 2013. Both events will cease to exist following this season.
FOX Sports Sees Record-Setting Ratings Weekend
The World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.
FOX Sports has been home to a number of record-setting games in terms of viewership over the last several days.
In addition to FOX Sports setting a new mark for a Thanksgiving and regular season NFL audience, the World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.
The network reported the U.S./England match in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup averaged 15.377 million. It was the most-watched English-language soccer game in the U.S. ever, topping the 1994 World Cup final between Italy and Brazil.
Viewership of the match was up 11% compared to the second group stage contest for the U.S. team in 2014 against Portugal. The audience peaked at 19.646 million from 3:30-3:45 p.m.
FOX Sports also reported the Michigan/Ohio State game on Saturday drew in 17 million, which made it the most-watched regular season college game on the network ever. That figure was also the highest of any regular season contest since 2011. That game also saw the audience peak at 19.6 million.
Viewership for the game was up 3% compared to last year.
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He works full-time as a multimedia specialist at the Virginia State Corporation Commission, while also putting in part-time work for News Radio WRVA and 910 The Fan in Richmond. Additionally, you can find Jordan contributing coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly and ABC 8News. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.