Behind the Mic: John Sterling To Call Nets-Hawks on Dec. 16; Paul Azinger Named as Johnny Miller’s Replacement

Behind the Mic provides a roundup of recent news regarding on-air talent, including new deals, departures, and assignments compiled from press releases and reports around the industry. In this week’s edition, John Sterling will call Brooklyn Nets-Atlanta Hawks contest on December 16, Paul Azinger will replace Johnny Miller on NBC Sports, Patrick Sharp joins NBC Sports Chicago on Blackhawks coverage, Fox Sports announces their lineup for UFC 230: Cormier vs. Lewis, and many personalities called last week’s UFC Fight Night: Volkan vs. Smith on FS1.

Photo: The New York Post

Longtime New York Yankees radio play-by-play man John Sterling, who handled play-by-play duties for the New York/New Jersey Nets and later for the Atlanta Hawks, will call an NBA game featuring both franchises on Sunday, December 16, when he does play-by-play on the YES Network’s telecast of the Atlanta Hawks-Brooklyn Nets game from Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The game telecast is at 3:00 pm ET, with the pre-game show beginning at 2:30 pm ET.

Working alongside Sterling on YES’ December 16 game telecast will be analyst Sarah Kustok, and they will be joined by courtside reporter Michael Grady.

During Sterling’s time as full-time Nets TV play-by-play man (1975-1980), the team was based on Long Island (Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum) before migrating to New Jersey (Rutgers Athletic Center) prior to the 1977-78 season. The Nets won their second of two ABA championships in 1976 under coach Kevin Loughery and later that year they joined the NBA along with fellow ABA franchises the Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, and San Antonio Spurs.

Julius “Dr. J.” Erving was on the 1976 Nets title-winning team, and other players whose time with the Nets coincided with Sterling’s include “Super” John Williamson, Brian Taylor, Bubbles Hawkins, Al Skinner, Bernard King, and Eddie Jordan.

While Sterling called the Hawks action from 1981-89, Atlanta’s rosters were graced with names such as Dominque Wilkins, Tree Rollins, Dan Roundfield, John Drew, Doc Rivers, Spud Webb, and Kevin Willis.

Sterling did play-by-play for the Washington Bullets during the 1980-81 season, when the Bullets’ roster included the likes of Elvin Hayes, Wes Unseld, Kevin Grevey, Kevin Porter, and Bob Dandridge.

Over the years, Sterling has also done play-by-play for the New York Islanders and Atlanta Braves, and has hosted radio talk shows at WMCA, WFAN, and WABC in New York. He has earned 12 New York Emmy Awards as host of YES’ Yankeeography series, and was inducted into the New York State Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2016.

“I couldn’t be more excited,” says Sterling. “I’ve loved basketball all my life. I broadcast so many years in the ABA and NBA. It’s like coming home again. I’m thrilled.”

“John Sterling is one of the pre-eminent play-by-play talents to ever sit behind a mic,” says John J. Filippelli, President of Production and Programming, YES Network. “An opportunity presented itself and we decided to gauge his interest. We are both delighted and excited to see John return to the Nets and the NBA.”…

Paul Azinger will become NBC Sports’ lead golf analyst in 2019, following Johnny Miller’s retirement at the Waste Management Phoenix Open (Jan. 31-Feb. 3). The announcement was made by Molly Solomon, executive vice president, content, Golf Channel.

Additionally, Azinger will contribute to Golf Channel’s portfolio of platforms, ranging from Golf Central’s Live From the Masters alongside former colleague Mike Tirico; develop instructional content for both on-air and via Revolution Golf; and develop documentary projects for Golf Channel’s Emmy-nominated and critically-acclaimed Golf Films.

Azinger’s NBC Sports schedule in 2019, which will regularly include all four days of tournament coverage on Golf Channel and NBC, will kick off at the WGC-Mexico Championship (Feb. 21-24). NBC Sports will allow Azinger to continue to call The Masters for the BBC, as well as the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open on Fox…

…NBC Sports Chicago has announced recently retired Chicago Blackhawks legend/three-time Stanley Cup Champion Patrick Sharp will be joining the network as an additional game night Blackhawks Pregame Live/Postgame Live studio analyst. Sharp’s first official appearance on NBC Sports Chicago takes place this Thursday, November 1 for the network’s multi-platform coverage of the Blackhawks road battle against the Edmonton Oilers (coverage begins at 7:30 PM CT; also streaming live on and the new MyTeams by NBC Sports app). In addition to his on-air analyst role, Sharp is also scheduled to make additional appearances throughout the season on a variety of NBC Sports Chicago’s programs and cross-platform portals. From a national standpoint, Sharp will also contribute to NBC Sports’ season-long NHL coverage as a studio analyst on NHL Live, NBC Sports’ live pre and postgame studio program…

…Fox Sports announces former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping and former title contender Kenny Florian join lead UFC host Karyn Bryant for Fox Sports’ coverage of UFC 230: Cormier VS. Lewis on Friday, Nov. 2 and Saturday, Nov. 3. Megan Olivi adds reports and interviews fighters on-site in New York City.

UFC lightweight contender Paul Felder calls his first PPV event alongside blow-by-blow announcer Jon Anik and veteran MMA analyst Joe Rogan at UFC 230 in New York City Saturday. In addition, Brandon Moreno and Victor Davila call the fights in Spanish on Fox Deportes…

…Former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz and former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans served as analysts with lead UFC host Bryant for FS1 UFC Fight Night: Volkan vs. Smith programming on Friday, Oct. 26 and Saturday, Oct. 27, while John Gooden reported and interviewed fighters.

Former title contender Dan Hardy and veteran MMA analyst Jimmy Smith joined blow-by-blow announcer Brendan Fitzgerald to call FS1 UFC Fight Night: Volkan vs. Smith live from Moncton, Canada on Saturday, Oct. 26 on FS1, FS2, and the Fox Sports app. Davila and Delgado called the fights in Spanish on Fox Deportes.

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