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ABC picks Michaels

as NBA lead announcer

St. Charles native Nessler still in the mix

Al Michaels is the new lead play-by-play announcer for the NBA on ABC-TV. Last year St. Charles native Brad Nessler had the lead role and he will be back, but doing ABC's "other'' NBA game along with calling the lead telecasts on ESPN.

Nessler teamed with Bill Walton last year at ABC, but ABC hasn't made a decision yet on the NBA Hall of Fame center.

ABC executive producer Mike Pearl said that he and Michaels would discuss whether there would be a two- or three-man booth and said Walton "was part of the pool'' of candidates. "We're looking both inside and outside the (ABC/ESPN) family,'' Pearl said. He said Walton "certainly has his own style of doing things. Whether or not he fits into this will be part of our discussions.''

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Michaels, who will work some regular-season and playoff games plus the NBA Finals, signed a reported $6 million contract for three years. He's also making $4 million per year as lead announcer on Monday Night Football.

ABC opens its NBA season on Christmas with the Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers.

Around the tube

Six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Warren Sapp of Tampa Bay will join "The NFL Today'' crew at 11 a.m. Sunday. Tampa Bay is on a bye week.

With their 3-0 record the Minnesota Vikings are attracting some national attention, most notably from Fox Sports who will send its No. 1 announcing crew of Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Cris Collinsworth to do Sunday's game at the Metrodome against the San Francisco 49ers.

It will be Buck's last assignment until after the Major League Baseball playoffs, where he will team with Tim McCarver. Expect to hear that pair Tuesday night when the Twins open up in New York against the Yankees.

Going Wild. Fox Sports Net will have "Best of Minnesota Wild Week'' beginning with an hour-long season preview plus show encore telecasts of five games from last year.

The season preview -- "Their Wildest Dreams'' -- airs at 9 p.m. today, or right after the Twins and Tigers. The encore games run Monday through next Friday. Games are Monday, Minnesota 5, Boston 1 on Oct. 11, 2002; Tuesday, Minnesota 3, Colorado (OT) on Oct. 29, 2002; Wednesday, Minnesota 3, Detroit 2 on Dec. 12, 2002; Thursday, Minnesota 4, Detroit 0 (March 23, 2003) and Friday, Minnesota 3, Colorado 2 (OT) on April 21, 2003. All encores have a 6:30 p.m. start.

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Last week Paul Allen, on the "P.A. and Dubay Show,'' which is broadcast from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays on KWEB-AM (1270), said that their show would be extended into the 11 a.m. hour. That may happen, but not yet. The "Jim Rome Show'' airs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on KWEB and, obviously, the first hour would have to be cut in order to carry "P.A. and Dubay.'' Whether that will happen is still up in the air. But one thing is for sure, Rome is still on, starting at 11.

NFL games from last Sunday were the top-rated program in 21 of 28 NFL markets, including Minneapolis-St. Paul. The Vikings-Lions game had a 32.4 rating and 65 share, surpassing CBS' Survivor premier and the Emmy Awards on Fox. Buffalo had the highest rating, followed by Milwaukee and Tampa. Minneapolis was sixth.

A ratings point represents 1,067,000 households, or 1 percent of the estimated 106.7 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

Former Vikings funning back Robert Smith had this to say on Maurice Clarett, the ex-Ohio State back.

"He's an immature guy. Anyone who has Jim Brown as an advisor is definitely not the most mature guy on the planet. I think, if you want an advisor and you want someone to advise you on making good decisions -- aside from leaving football early -- Jim Brown is probably not the guy.''

Smith was appearing on the "Best Damned Sports Show Period'' on FSN.

Guest on "Vikings Live'' at 7 p.m. Monday at McMurphy's include a pair of rookies, place kicker Aaron Eiling and wide receiver Nate Burleson. The show is heard, and sponsored, by KWEB-AM (1270).

Paul Christian is a Post-Bulletin sports writer. He writes a weekly column devoted to TV and radio sports and can be reached at pchristian@postbulletin.com

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A variety of sources was used to compile this column.

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