Waking up in the morning and being forced to catchup on all of the previous day’s events is nothing new. However, it is a wonder that this hefty piece of information slipped through the cracks yesterday. Here at the Beef we have lost someone who we grew up with. His endearing presence always made us smile. He will be missed.
Yesterday, it was announced that Bob Ortegel and the Dallas Mavericks have parted ways. Ortegel, you may not know if you are not familiar with the local broadcasts of the Mavericks, has been with the team for 23 years in various aspects but most notably as the television analyst and color commentator. That is where he left his mark and that is where he endeared himself to a city if not the entire Metroplex.
When the Mavericks played on national television, a rare occasion now, our televisions were always tuned into the local broadcast because of Ortegel. He stood by this team and kept the faith (to use a Tavis Smiley phrase) during the most dismal years in the organization’s history. The 1990’s were nothing fun for the Mavericks. I became a Mavericks fan around 1990 when I first was seriously introduced to the sport. I am still one to this day. The following decade was tough. Yet, Ortegel was there with us.
Now the Mavericks are staring down the possibility of an eleventh consecutive season of 50 or more wins. That is quite the turnaround for the little franchise that could not win to save its life. Ortegel has seen it all and he will continue to see it all, as he told Mike Fisher of DallasBasketball.com (you must read his piece), it will just be from his home instead of courtside.
“I promise you, I will not miss a moment,’’ Ortegel said. “I’ll be watching Mark [Followill] and the guys on TV, and I’ll flip over and listen to Chuck [Cooperstein], too. I will not miss a moment.’’
Ortegel’s last broadcast was on January 27 as the Mavericks defeated the Houston Rockets. Fitting that his last game was a win. However, he is never one to raise the victory banner too early in a game. On that night the Rockets gave the Mavericks a second half scare which Dallas was able to withstand.
It was Mark Cuban’s decision to remove Ortegel from his television spot, it is his team and he has the final say. Cuban stated, in an email to Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas, that the move was to “freshen things up and try some different things.”
Those “new things” are nothing new to Mavericks fans. Ortegel’s replacements are Derek Harper and Brad Davis, two former players from the team who are both currently active broadcasting Mavericks games. Davis currently works with Cooperstein on the radio while Harper does pre and post game coverage on television.
Ortegel was offered a job as the radio analyst, a position he held during the 2007-2008 season. However, “after some serious thought and discussion, I declined,” Ortegel said. Anyone who remembers his stint in radio knows that Ortegel is more suited for television than Davis, who swapped spots with him that year. He is more fluid and has a better feel for the flow of the game in conjunction with the broadcast. Plus, in radio there are no teleprompters to entertain the people at home with. Who can forget when Ortegel would draw on fans in the crowd?
He was let go to freshen thing up. Cuban has done a marvelous job breathing life back into a dying organization from the moment he bought the team. Generally, we do not question his decisions but we must question this one.
Having watched a number of other team’s broadcasts, there is no question that the teaming of Ortegel and Followill is easily one of the best in the league. This is not just a local bias, this is because many of the crews out there are not actually invested in the game they are watching. Nor do some of them even know the basic rules of the sport. It is simply astounding. Ortegel and Followill are dedicated and informed and anyone who has watched their work on the sidelines can see that right of the bat. They are professional in every way.
That level of professionalism that is always on display is what makes this separation as confusing as it is. In the minds of fans (who know the game, not the ones sitting courtside on their iPhones) Ortegel is as integral to the Mavericks as anyone of the players on the team.
As Mike Fisher puts it, Ortegel was “old-school” and “straight-forward.” Apparently that is not fresh in the eyes of the owner. However, that could not be further from the truth. Ortegel’s mannerisms do not simply appeal to an older audience. They appeal to everyone. Here at the Beef, we, including all of our friends, are in our mid-twenties. We stand by Ortegel and his professionalism. He is a breath of fresh air in a society that has taken to glamorizing individuals who seem to have little more than an eighth grade education or are actually in eighth grade.
Bob Ortegel stood above the rest in the field of broadcasting. He will forever be an iconic symbol of the Dallas Mavericks even though he was never a player. He did not have to be to solidify his role with the organization.
He left Mavericks fans with a positive parting message, “I sincerely believe that if this team stays healthy that they’ve got a shot at winning it all. Sometimes people don’t understand what that means, ‘a shot.’ If they stay healthy, they are in the conversation. That’s all you can ask. To have a shot.”
If the Mavericks do end up winning it all this year, or any year, one thing is certain, where ever Ortegel is at the moment the confetti falls from the arena rafters he will be beaming with joy with a smile from ear to ear.