Bob Ortegel Rumors
Monday was a day Bob Ortegel wishes he could have stayed in bed and just be lost with his thoughts. That’s because that’s the day that one of Ortegel’s closest friends, ESPN Radio play-by-play man Jim Durhan, died at the age of 65. “The sports world and the radio and television industry lost a superstar,” Ortegel said after the Dallas Mavericks ran away from the Portland Trail Blazers, 114- 91, Monday at American Airlines Center. “I worked side-by-side with that man for eight years doing Mavericks games and we worked over 600 games together and he’s like a brother to me.
The night is winding down, Bob Ortegel having absorbed a day of concerned questions and well-wishing backpats. With the figurative klieg lights dimmed, he is no longer required to be pithy or witty or to display any sense of humor. But as I visit with the 23-year Mavs broadcasting fixture about his separation from Mark Cuban’s team, Bob O goes ahead and does ‘pithy,’ ‘witty’ and ‘funny’ anyway. DONUT 1: “It’s his team. He wanted to make a change. It’s his baby,’’ Ortegel says before taking a pause for comedic timing. “He can do that!’’ DONUT 2: “He can do that.’’ Bob’s awareness of that unintentional catchphrase is a little surprising … as is his use of post-ironic humor, at least to anyone who views the 70-year-old’s work as the Mavs’ TV analyst as “old-school’’ or “straight-forward.’’
Ortegel will not confirm the details of the breakup as I understand them to be, but here they are: Leading up to the Jan. 29 home game against Atlanta, Mark considered an “experiment’’ with former Mavs star (and Ortegel pal) Derek Harper in the analyst chair next to play-by-play man Mark Followill. Bob O was out – for at least a game … what did it mean big-picture? Ortegel and Cuban were supposed to meet. In person? Via email? Is there a good way to do this? Then came the inclement weather, and then an Eastern road trip (that Harp couldn’t make, forcing Brad Davis from radio to TV) … and Mother Nature put the relationship deeper into limbo. On Monday, two weeks after the initial “experiment,’’ was there a clear directive from the top.
Despite his warm relationship with the players, Ortegel has never been one to hang out in the locker room. That is their domain. He is not one of them, and he is not a jock-sniffer and he is not a sycophant. But he is a fan – maybe even a “homer.’’ And he has his favorites, as I know, because last year, Kerre asked me to help present Bob O with a birthday present. I created a painting of Bob surrounded by four of his all-time favorite Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki, Michael Finley, Jason Kidd and Derek Harper. They players signed the painting. It’s pretty cool and hip and fresh, if I say so myself.
Long-time popular color analyst Bob Ortegel and the Dallas Mavericks are going their separate ways. Citing a need for a fresh voice, Mavs owner Mark Cuban has decided to remove Ortegel from the team’s television broadcasting booth and replace him on a rotating basis with Derek Harper and Brad Davis. Ortegel’s last game was Jan. 27 against Houston. Reached at his home Tuesday, the 70-year old Ortegel said: “I’m grateful and I’m thankful for the 23 years that I’ve had with the Dallas Mavericks’ organization.”