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Tuesday, 01 October 2013 00:58

CSNNE Announces Massive Personnel Changes to its Boston Celtics Coverage

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The Boston Celtics apparently aren't the only business in town that will have a new look this fall. Their home broadcast network, Comcast Sports New England, has announced that its Celtics coverage team will undergo a massive overhaul for the 2012-13 NBA season.


Chad Finn of the Boston Globe reported on Monday that Greg Dickerson, Gary Tanguay and Donny Marshall will all no longer be included in CSNNE's regular coverage of the team.


Even more surprising, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will be one of Tanguay and Marshall's replacements, periodically manning the color analyst table for pre-game, halftime and post-game coverage along with former Celtics player and recovering heroin addict Chris Herren.


Dickerson, who has served as the Celtics' sideline reporter for nearly eight years, will be replaced by anchor/reporter Abby Chin, a CSNNE who originally came to Boston from CSN Portland, one of the network's affiliates.


The move to replace Dickerson appears unrelated to his ongoing fight with neurological disorders, including epilepsy and Tourette's syndrome. Though he missed considerable airtime two years ago because of the illnesses, he has faired better since. Adored by many fans and even a good chunk of the players, Dickerson will remain a regular fixture at CSNNE in other capacities, and will also continue to work for CSNNE sister channel NECN.


The removal of Marshall as color analyst seems the most surprising. The former University of Connecticut hoops star had served in the role since 2005-06, and once appeared to be in line for the lead color commentary position once Celtics legend and longtime “homer commentator” Tommy Heinsohn hung up his mic.


Marshall had worked some away games when Heinsohn stopped traveling far distances a couple of years ago. But after former Celtic Brian Scalabrine retired from the league, he took Marshall's spot and knocked the color commentary role out of the park.


But after the 2012-13 season concluded, Scalabrine accepted a job as one of Mark Jackson's assistant coaches for the Golden State Warriors organization. Still, Marshall was not offered a new contract.


Kyle Draper will serve as the new studio host for all Celtics pre-game, halftime and post-game coverage. He may sound like a character from “Mad Men,” but he's a quick, knowledgeable host with plenty of experience from CSNNE shows like “SportsNet Central.” Tanguay will stay with the network as a host of “Sports Tonight.”


Luckily for Celtics fans, Mike Gorman remains at the helm of the play-by-play duties. And the notorious Heinsohn should be quite comical during this rebuilding year, yelling at every possible scapegoat in zebra stripes to account for what could be a long season of home games.


Heinsohn and Gorman have worked together for 33 years, so their chemistry is understandably superb. However, Heinsohn fails to offer considerable insight. The educated mind would bet that this is one of his final seasons yelling into a Comcast microphone.


For away games, Heinsohn will join Draper in the studio. Color analysts will rotate, and include Celtics legends Dave Cowens and Cedric Maxwell.


Cowens gets along with just about everyone in the world, and has to be considered one of the most intelligent players in Celtics history, so it comes as no surprise that CSNNE has offered him an opportunity. Maxwell currently serves as color commentator for the Celtics radio team alongside Sean Grande, the voice of the Celtics. His witty but observant on-air skills will certainly transfer to the television broadcasts, just as long as Gorman can keep him in check.


Grande and Maxwell will, however, continue as the voices of Celtics radio. Although the team was unable to come to an agreement for a new contract with WEEI Radio, the on-air personalities actually have individual contracts with the Celtics. Barring another huge surprise, they will call the games for 98.5 Sports Hub starting this fall.


Ainge and Herren will also reportedly join Gorman in tandem for some road games, which again seems completely random but also quite intriguing. Ainge has worked as an on-air analyst in the past, and still dazzles in all of his in-season radio interviews, but it's pretty unusual for a team's president to call games.


Various personalities will join Draper as studio analysts throughout the season, including Cowens, Tim Welsh, and Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated.


Mannix is solid gold on the microphone, with a diverse knowledge of all things sports and a very quick analytical mind. He has filled in admirably on national shows like “The Dan Patrick Show” and “The Artie Lang Show” in the past year.


No word yet on whether Celtics insider A. Sherrod Blakely will remain a CSNNE in-game personality, but here's to hoping they continually utilize his knowledge. Blakely has been an underrated talent in the network's arsenal for nearly half a decade.