Friday, 10 August 2012


They say that any publicity is good publicity, but whoever made the observation made it long before the age of the internet. My Andy Warhol-predicted 15 minutes came after the men's basketball quarterfinal match between Argentina and Brazil. After the game ended, with Argentina winning to advance to the semifinals, I was closing out our BBC television broadcast with my colour commentator John Amaechi. I was turned to my left to face him, with one eye on the monitor to make sure I could get to the goodbyes over the proper shot.

Meanwhile, down on the court, the Argentines were still celebrating, and one of them (Pablo Prigioni, I'm told) kicked a basketball into the stands, or more precisely, straight into my head, directly into my right headphone. The effect was rather like getting your bell rung by a head slap in American football, when you're wearing a helmet, and after a disconcerting moment I turned to my right, and saw some commentators in the row in front of me playing with the ball, which had rebounded off my skull. I jumped to the conclusion they'd hit me by accident, and launched into an ad lib tirade as a way of explaining why my question to John had been interrupted by my 'Owwww!'

John corrected me, we finished on time, and I laughed it off. About ten minutes later, my phone rang. It was BBC Interactive. Would I mind if they posted the clip on the website? I asked what it was I'd actually said, and they assured me it was nothing too awful, just embarrassing, so of course I said go ahead.

The video went viral, immediately becoming the most watched item on the website, and I even got messages asking if I was OK. Of course I was, we Carlsons being strong of square head. But it was odd, that after twenty years or more of broadcasting, I would finally attract attention on a wider stage for nothing more than turning my head at the wrong time and getting my noggin knocked as a result!

Sadly, the clip is audio over the closing shots from the arena. If anyone had captured it on video I'd probably be a global superstar today! Here's the link to the BBC website; if you're outside the UK and can't fool their ISP detector, you can probably google 'angry commentator gets hit by basketball' and find something.

And I'm still waiting for a signed basketball from the Argentina team by way of apology.


Matthew Best said...

Fame at last! Still, it enabled me to find your blog which I didn't know existed until now. Look forward to future posts!

(Incidentally, you may not remember but back in 1990 you gave me a free ticket to see this. Despite it being rather dismal, thanks very much!)

Ruzz said...

Shades of Gary Imlach's moment of sideline fame?

simon said...

This would never happen at the Super Bowl, Mike!