Dallas' Avery Johnson and Denver's George Karl became the first to clip on the little wires when their teams met in a game shown on TNT on Thursday night, which the Nuggets won 122-109. Both made it clear they're only doing it because they have to, reflecting an attitude shared by colleagues throughout the league.
"I wouldn't say (I'm) ready. But with the company I work for, it's mandatory," Johnson said before tip-off. "We just have to adjust."
The microphones are only part of some new rules aimed at taking fans a step closer to the action whenever TNT, ESPN or ABC cameras arrive. Other changes:
- Remote-controlled cameras in the locker room can capture pregame, halftime and postgame discussions.
- Players will be asked to wear microphones, too. Dallas' Jerry Stackhouse and Denver's Eduardo Najera became the pioneers Thursday night.
- Coaches will be subject to interviews during the game, the visiting coach talking between the first and second quarters, the home coach between the third and fourth.
"You just don't know where it's going to go. You just don't really know," Johnson said. "Let's go to another subject. I've already been fined. Let's just make it work."
Johnson was fined $25,000 on Monday for failing to leave the court in a timely manner and for verbal abuse of a game official. Swearing, however, is not something Johnson does too often. He pointed out Thursday, "I don't say anything that needs to be censored."
Karl, meanwhile, laughed and said, "People know I swear sometimes."
The bigger issue is whether any trade secrets might be revealed. That's the crux of what the coaches don't like.
A former television commentator himself, Karl acknowledged that "it's a big part of our business." But, still, that doesn't mean he likes it.
"It's the sanctuary that coaches have to give up," Karl said.
Guess who supports the league on this one? Mavs owner Mark Cuban, who doesn't expect any problems from this. He noted that referees have been wearing microphones for years. Microphones also have been allowed into team huddles.