My time is precious," says peripatetic NBC sideline reporter Jim; Gray before Game 1 of the NBA Western Conference finals, the Los Angeles Lakers at the Utah Jazz.
10:43 a.m. Gray arrives at the Delta Center for the 1:35 p.m. tip-off. A producer tells him that Jazz forward Bryon Russell recently visited a comatose woman in a hospital. An hour after he left, the woman emerged from the coma. She is expected at today's game. "Gotta check that one out," says Gray.
10:48 am. All 19,911 seats are empty save for a pair occupied by Gray and Lakers whiz kid Kobe Bryant. "Jim's big-time," says Bryant, whose dad, Joe, played for the Philadelphia 76ers, the team that hired Gray as a broadcaster when he graduated from Colorado in 1981.
11:50 a.m. Nick Van Exel arrives in street clothes for a pregame interview. "This O.K., Jim?" asks Van Exel.
"Put your jersey top on," Gray orders in a tone that Lakers coach Del Harris might not dare use with his mercurial point guard.
"Whatever you say," says Van Exel.
11:53 a.m. Excerpt from the second take of the Van Exel interview:
Van Exel: "Composure definitely the most important thing. We gotta stay away from [ Utah's] dirty tactics."
Gray: "Definitely firing a slavo there."