News Item: Pistons coach Chuck Daly will meet this weekend with NBC Sports executive producer Terry O’Neill to discuss Daly joining the network as an NBA analyst next season.

NEW YORK — “Good morning, Chuck. Great to see you.”

“Thanks, Mr. O’Neill.”

“Terry. It’s Terry. Have a bagel. Say hi to our lawyers.”

“Geez. There’s a lot of them.”

“Thirty-seven. The others couldn’t make it. Now then, Chuck, we’re very excited about you joining our team. We see big things for you at NBC. Really big things.”

“I hope so. I hope so. Take an old man like me, stick him in front of the camera, who knows, maybe I’ll crack the lens.”

“Ha ha! That’s a good one, Chuck. Be funny. We love funny. That’s why we’re here this morning. To make sure you’re comfortable with the whole TV thing.”

“Well, you know, I’m just a small-town coach from Punxsutawney.”

“Ha ha! Punxsutawney! I love it! When did you make that up?”

“I didn’t. That was my first job.”

“Oh. Fellas. Work on that. Now, Chuck, let’s go through your daily routine. See how it meshes with what you’d do for us at NBC. For example, before the games, what do you do?”

“I blow-dry my hair.”

“Excellent!”

“I pick out my suit.”

“Wonderful!”

“I make sure all my colors match, and there is no lint showing.”

“Chuckie, baby. You’re a TV natural.”

“And then I worry.”

“Marvelou– . . . I beg your pardon?” Selling more than Fords “I worry. I’ve been worrying my whole career. I worry about the defense. I worry about the offense. I worry that we won’t make a single shot. I worry we’ll miss all our free throws. I worry we’re going to lose and I’m going to get fired and I’ll be out on the street begging for spare change.”

“Heh-heh. You’re kidding, right?”

“Not really.”

“Well, Chuck, in TV, we take a more optimistic approach. You know what an optimist is?”

“A pessimist without experience.”

“No, no, no. An optimist is a good salesman. A good salesman is a good TV announcer. A good TV announcer keeps his audience tuned in no matter what is really happening. Got it?”

“Hey. I’m just a small-town coach from Punxsutawney. You stick an old man like me in front of the camera and who know –“

“OK. OK. Listen, Chuck. Let’s run through this, sort of make- believe. For example, I say ‘Action!’ What’s the first thing you say?”

“Your Detroit Ford dealers are No. 1!”

“No! No! No! We can’t endorse one sponsor during our program. The others will get mad.”

“Hey. I’m just a small-town coach from–“

“I know. I know. OK. Different scenario. The Pistons are playing the Lakers. Joe Dumars gets hurt. What do you say?”

“The Pistons are dead.”

“HAHAHA! . . . Chuck, can I speak to you in private for just a minute?” The truth hurts . . . the ratings “Am I doing OK, Mr. O’Neill?”

“Terry. And, well, Chuck, we do things a little different on TV. See, we’re afraid if you say something like ‘The Pistons are dead,’ people will believe you and they’ll tune out, they’ll switch channels.”

“You want me to lie?”

“Oh, no. We call it ‘upbeat.’ Like, maybe you say ‘Dumars is hurt, but the Pistons’ intensity should make this a great game –‘ “

“If Isiah is concentrating.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“If Isiah is concentrating. Otherwise, we’re dead.”

“No, Chuck, they could turn you off–“

“It sure does turn me off. I get so mad. Like when Salley goes up and drops the ball? How many times do I have to tell him? Or if Vinnie is cold–“

“Chuck, the Lakers . . . “

“Will kill us. We’ll be lucky to get a shot off. They have so many weapons.

I don’t see how we can even win one, let alone four. I feel fortunate to even be here. I’m just a small- town coach from Punxsutawney. You stick an old man like me in front of the cam–“

“CHUCK!”

“Yes, Terry?”

“Um, maybe this isn’t the best idea. Maybe we should wait until the playoffs are finished. You’ll be more relaxed.”

“Maybe you’re right. I’ll work on that optimist stuff. I’m sure I can learn it.”

“Good. Let’s just finish breakfast. Waiter! Some more orange juice. Mr. Daly’s cup is half-full.”

“Half-empty.”

“Chuck.”

“Sorry.”

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