Would You Rather: Tony Reali/Spero Dedes

Dedes Reali When Spero Dedes was a student at Fordham calling various sporting events for radio, his partner was often a student one year his senior named Tony Reali.

Just a few years later, Dedes became the radio voice of the Lakers and the host of the NFL Network’s “GameDay Morning,” while Reali became the host of ESPN’s “Around the Horn” and a key cog in the highly successful “PTI” program.

We spent some time with two of the country’s best young broadcasters in the latest segment of “Would You Rather.”


… Make witty but questionably appropriate jokes as a Fordham color analyst or handle play-by-play duties with a silky smooth tenor I think we know the answer here – I made the jokes as the color commentator to Dedes. Honestly, I don’t remember one “uh” or “oh” or any other slip of the tongue that wasn’t supposed to be there from Dedes. I have no dirt on him – as a broadcaster, I should say. But I had a lot of fun doing that, and I think it set me up for the job I do today, making questionable jokes at the expense of Woody Paige, Jay Mariotti, Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon. I’d have to stick to play-by-play, since I was taught to stay as true to your strengths as possible. Witty, biting humor was more up Tony’s alley, so I’ll let him handle that. Back at Fordham, we’d basically rotate between color and play-by-play, and if I were doing play-by-play I’d try to stay out his way. Tony has an edge to him, so it was fun calling games with him. He’s a smart dude, and is very opinionated.

… Sit and take pointed criticism from Marty Glickman in Fordham broadcast workshops in front of the whole group, or mutter things under your breath back at him despite his legendary status? The answer here isn’t a ‘would I rather’ but a ‘did I rather,’ and muttering is what I did. I’m embarrassed to say that, but Dedes cannot answer this question,because neither of these possible answers apply to him. I’m throwing it out right now for Dedes, no matter what he says, because he was never criticized by Marty Glickman. Dedes is a liar. ‘Pants on fire’ situation. I would take the biting criticism because I was terrified of him. He had to be 85 years old, but he had such a presence about him … Everyone would totally shut up when he’d walk in. Reali’s just being an idiot to say that I didn’t get critiqued. All the compliments that he gave me would be in private, and in front of the group he’d find stuff. I don’t know what it was with Tony – maybe his accent – that set Marty off. It was just classic. Tony sat there and took it at times, but how much can you take? It must have been awkward to be called out, and some point he started muttering stuff under his breath … It was great.

… Play golf with Michael Wilbon or Tony Kornheiser? I hope I’m not letting any secrets out here, but I understand that Mike Wilbon has some ill temper on the course when he golfs. Occasionally. Not anything bad … I mean I’m like that when I play basketball and other things, but with golf I’m just out there to have some fun, and Tony is too. I’m an atrocious golfer – to call myself a golfer is an insult to the sport. I’m at a 103 handicap or so. Awful. I’d play with Kornheiser. He’s older and has all that wisdom. Now, I’m terrible at golf. I’m like going through two boxes of balls terrible, so I think both Kornheiser and Reali could take me. But Reali can’t mess with me on the basketball court. I take pride in being a skilled player, so that’s not even up for discussion. Reali is big in the weight room though, I’ll give him that one.

… Eat a live tarantula (don’t worry, not poisonous) or lose a toe. I’m not really good with eating things. Seeing as I don’t have a professional career in dancing or sports, I’d have to say take the toe off. I was in France once and I tried frog legs, and I thought they were delicious going down … Then I projectile vomited in the hotel bathroom for 12 hours. I have the ugliest, knarliest mangled toes in the history of the world, so losing one them would be a pleasure. I try not to take my socks off in public. On the beach, I get bulky sandals and try to avoid taking them off. I’m good with eating things, open minded, but the tarantula is crossing my boundaries.

… Get tackled by Ray Lewis without pads on or get your appendix removed? I’d totally get my appendix out. Lewis would break me in half, and with the appendix they give you some nice drugs, you go away for a little bit and come back with a scar to show for it. I think Ray would just leave me in a puddle on the field. I’m a wimp. Just give me the drugs and I’ll go under for a while. I’d get tackled by Ray Lewis. Once you get the appendix removed it doesn’t make a difference, but I guess the hours leading up to it are excruciating. I’d rather do that than sit in the emergency room waiting.

… Play one-on-one with Kobe Bryant or Sun Yue? You have to say Kobe. That’d be something you could tell your grandkids about, so that’s a pretty easy one for me. There’s no doubt in my mind that Dedes thinks he can beat Sun, but I’d go after Kobe and see if he’d spot me 20 points going to 21. Then, I have the will to do what other people won’t. I’d be gouging eyes, if I could reach them, and elbowing in the ribs. I’d be doing that thing where you hit someone in the back of the knees and they trip. I don’t think the Lakers would be happy, because Kobe might miss some time. Though we would trash talk in Italian, which would be fun. Kobe. You’re going to lose either one, whatever Reali said. I played Sasha (Vujacic) once and scored twice on him when it was 10-0, and the only shot I could get off was a complete prayer from the corner. Sasha was completely furious … I mean all kidding aside, he was pretty pissed off. He blocked my next seven shots.

… Lose your voice or your hearing? That’s a horrible question. You’re a sadist, Mike. I think the world would rather I lose my voice, but I’d have to choose the hearing. I get too much joy out of making people shake their head when I talk. Plus (“Around the Horn”) would be much better if I couldn’t hear guys like Woody Paige. Wow. It sounds crazy, but probably my voice. I’d hang up the broadcasting career … I mean if you can’t hear, that’s a huge blow. It’s a quality of life thing at that point, because either way I’m not broadcasting anymore. Plus I’m not a very talkative person anyway so that’d be a good excuse to cut the small talk.

… Have a mute button in real life or (Reali cuts me off before I started) I don’t even care what you’re going to ask next, the mute button is the answer. The world needs it. I think we need to get it on the street and market it. Let’s say you’re on a date with your girl, and she’s on some inane topic from her day and you just mute it. Let’s talk about my fantasy basketball team. Or you’re in high school and the teacher is rambling – mute button. It’d be the Holiday gift of the season. I agree with Reali whole-heartedly on that one. There’s way too much talking going on everywhere. I’m just not a small talk kind of guy, so if you’re in a group with people and they start telling you intricate details of their day and their life, I just can’t do that. I’d never think someone else was that interested in my business.

… Be a contestant on “Amazing Race” or “Fear Factor” Amazing Race, definitely. I like that show, even though a lot of these reality shows are kind of tired right now. But everyone loves traveling, and I we all think we can succeed and excel in that game. “Fear Factor,” I can’t hang with. I get dizzy very easily on amusement park rides and am scared of all animals. Amazing Race. I couldn’t do the Fear Factor stuff. They’re eating insects and stuff. They eat cow testicles. I want to live. The physical stuff I’m good with. You, Mike, struggled with octopus, but that’s a seafood delicacy, where as the stuff on Fear Factor … no way.

… Be an NBA head coach right now or work as a real estate agent? I’d take the NBA, but it’s really ridiculous what’s happening right now with all the firings. Six before Christmas is a ludicrous number, and some of it’s due to teams not putting fans in the stands. Reggie Theus was fired even though he’s been without his best player for most of the season. Mo Cheeks was fired even though Elton Brand hadn’t fit in yet (and is now injured). But I know you’re being hired to be fired on some level. A coach. Even if you get fired, you’re clearing the buyout check. You’re making out financially, and the real estate is just misery. I’d definitely go basketball if I had to choose, it’s just much more manageable with the roster size, and I’m not a big baseball guy so the 162 would wear on me.

… Be locked in a room with a pig or a hawk? They say pigs are very intelligent … What’s the Churchill quote? ‘I don’t like dogs, they’re beneath us; I don’t like cats, they think they’re above us; I like pigs, they think they’re as smart as we are.’ So I’d probably go with the pigs. Plus I’m kinda spooked by the hawk’s talons. Wait, did Reali really quote Churchill on the spot? Impressive. I’d also go with a pig, because hawks are terrifying. I was just in a breakfast place in Manhattan Beach the other day and a pigeon came inside, and the poor thing freaked out and started flying into the window. It was scary. I’ve had a fear of that since I was a kid.