Dallas Mavericks: Bob Ortegel

Bob Ortegel deserved a better sign-off

February, 9, 2011
2/09/11
12:29
PM CT
As everyone knows by now, Bob Ortegel is off the Dallas Mavericks' television broadcast, ending a 23-year relationship with the club that includes a long and successful pairing with play-by-play man Mark Followill.

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Coach Bob Ortegel joins Ben and Skin to give us the truth about why he no longer works for the Mavericks.

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Mavs owner Mark Cuban made the call on this one, wanting to "freshen things up." He dropped Ortegel from the broadcast and offered him the radio gig where Brad Davis has long added input to Chuck Cooperstein's call. Ortegel declined -- this time.

This is not the first time a discontented Cuban has tried to freshen things up with the broadcast. He moved Ortegel to the radio side before, bringing Davis -- who is more suited for radio -- over to TV, only to swap them again. The season after the disappointing 2008 first-round ouster, TV ratings and fan interest drooped. Around Christmas, Cuban decided to take action. In mid-season he added ESPN 103.3's Jeff "Skin" Wade to the telecast as a second analyst, forming a rare three-man booth.

In an email then to the Mavs' head of broadcasting, Cuban made it clear that he wanted Ortegel's role reduced (I chronicled this situation at the time while working for a different media outlet).

At the time, Ortegel and Followill were both unsure of where Cuban would take the broadcast at that time. While most organizations typically follow industry standard and sign talent to three-year contracts, Cuban follows his own standard and keeps his broadcasters on year-to-year deals, so naturally both felt some uneasiness heading into the offseason.

Cuban obviously stuck with Ortegel, and starting last season, Skin took on a more versatile sideline reporter/analyst role that allows him to showcase his personality and basketball chops while allowing Followill and Ortegel to maintain a more traditional two-man booth operation.

It is certainly Cuban's prerogative to make changes as he sees fit. It's just a shame that the owner couldn't allow Ortegel -- who, after two decades, has a large and adoring following as a broadcast fixture -- to finish out the season with dignity.

Ortegel's sudden disappearance from the television broadcast came with no explanation and left Mavs fans to wonder if Ortegel, 70, had become ill. It also put Followill and Skin in an awkward position, left only to tell hordes of curious and concerned emailers and followers on Twitter that Ortegel was taking time off for "personal reasons," which wasn't exactly the whole truth.

As Skin detailed Wednesday morning on the "Ben & Skin Show," some speculated that Ortegel's departure had something to do with a poor relationship between the two, which left Skin, and then Ortegel, who called into the show, to set the record straight on the air about their relationship that spans 10 years.

Bob will be missed and the broadcasts will go on. It's just too bad that 23 years of service couldn't be rewarded with a more gracious sign-off.

Mavs, broadcaster Bob Ortegel part ways

February, 8, 2011
2/08/11
4:27
PM CT
Color commentator Bob Ortegel will be no longer be part of the Dallas Mavericks’ broadcasts.

“I’m extremely grateful for the 23 years I’ve been with the Mavericks,” said Ortegel, a 70-year-old former college head coach who entered broadcasting after a stint in the corporate world. “It’s been a wonderful experience.”

Owner Mark Cuban made the decision to pull Ortegel off the team’s television broadcasts, replacing him with a rotation of former Mavericks point guards Derek Harper and Brad Davis.

Ortegel’s last game was the Mavs’ Jan. 27 win over the Houston Rockets. Harper has worked the home games and Davis worked the road games since then.

“Sometimes you’ve just got to freshen things up and try some different things,” Cuban said Monday night before Ortegel's departure had been finalized.

On Tuesday, Cuban wrote in an e-mail: "Bob has been an amazing part of the Mavs organization for 23 years. He has represented us not only in media, but to organizations across the country. We were hoping for him to stay, but the door is always open to him to return.

"We wish him nothing but the best."

Ortegel confirmed that he was given other options to remain with the organization, including working as the color commentator on the ESPN 103.3 radio broadcasts.

“After some serious thought and discussion, I declined,” said Ortegel, who was moved from television to radio for the 2007-08 season.

Ortegel did offer one last bit of Mavericks analysis: “I sincerely believe that if this team stays healthy that they’ve got a chance [to win a championship].”

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dirk Nowitzki
PTS AST STL MIN
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsD. Nowitzki 6.2
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksB. Wright 0.9