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The long and winding road of Thursday's Mavericks parade coverage

NBC5's cheerleading coverage added an exclamation. Photos: Ed Bark

The Dallas Mavericks' championship season finally stood at parade rest shortly after 2 p.m. Thursday, with all four of D-FW's major TV news providers offering start-to-stop coverage of both the downtown victory procession and the after-party at the American Airlines Center.

Subtlety is seldom if ever an option under such circumstances. So the typical June weather in Dallas became an ever-present health threat throughout the morning while anchors and reporters dutifully spilled hyperbole all over the Mavs and their fans.

To be fair, though, parades are a pain to cover. In fact, it's next to impossible to look or sound good while doing one of these things on live television. But despite the usual array of audio and video problems, the stations persevered in bringing the festivities into local living rooms, even if most of them likely were vacant. Some people have to work and others were watching the parade in person. Your friendly content provider opted to remain at unclebarky.com world headquarters in a brain-draining effort to watch as much of the coverage as possible on Fox4, NBC5, WFAA8 and CBS11. So let's try to sort all of this out.

In the early going, both Fox4 and CBS11 doted on a kid or two who had "succumbed to the heat" and gotten sick and faint before the parade had started. It was no big deal, really, but viewers basically were given the early impression -- on all four stations -- that parade-goers were engaged in a war of attrition with death rays from a searing sun. CBS11 meteorologist Larry Mowry urgently told viewers that his station had poured water on one weak-in-the-knees kid while also calling paramedics.

NBC5 co-anchor Deborah Ferguson seemed obsessed with protective lotion. Mavericks cheerleaders were wearing two-piece outfits, she noted. For their own safety, Ferguson hoped they were "slathered in sun screen."

She later worried that Mavs center Tyson Chandler might not be wearing any protection. For his sake, she sure hoped he was.

Over on Fox4, street reporter Adrian Arambulo spoke of the "difficult conditions out here" while WFAA8's Shon Gables popped in briefly from inside the AAC to cheerily note that "we're all going to watch the parade live in air-conditioning."

WFAA8 also revved up its heat index warnings, courtesy of weathercaster Pete Delkus. Later, though, co-anchor John McCaa sounded a note of calm while stationed in a director's chair along the parade route with early morning personalities Cynthia Izaguirre and Ron Corning. In his view, it in fact was a beautiful day in downtown Dallas. "The weather has decided that it's going to be a Mavericks fan as well," he rhapsodized. Maybe McCaa had heat stroke by then?

CBS11 sports anchor/reporter Gina Miller works the parade route.

Parade day's hustle award goes to CBS11 sportster Gina Miller, who at one point could be seen chasing down a car carrying team president/CEO Terdema Ussery and actor/singer Jamie Foxx, who had hitched a ride after proclaiming himself a giant Mavs during his childhood in North Texas.

In a flurry of activity, Miller also ran down original Mavs owner Donald Carter, road game TV analyst Brad Davis and former TV analyst Bob Ortegel, all of whom also were riding in the parade. She probably got a little carried away, though, in pointing out the team's equipment manager and PR director.

Fox4's Arambulo also was a gamer. He got to Carter first before peeling away and letting Miller step in.

WFAA8 had a total of six commentators in play, with Delkus, anchor/reporter Shelly Slater and sports anchor Dale Hansen pulling duty outside the station's Victory Park studios adjacent to the AAC. But the station was notably shy of parade route foot reporters. Slater noted that sports anchor/reporter Joe Trahan had been sentenced to follow the entire two-mile procession on foot. But Trahan communicated only by phone, and later encouraged viewers to check out his pictures on WFAA8's website. Hey, this is TV, not radio.

Veteran NBC5 reporter Ken Kalthoff, who's probably a little too old for this slap-happy parade stuff, seemed at sea during the moments before the victory march officially began. Fox4 and WFAA8 reporters interviewed Mavs players inside at City Hall before they got on their floats. Kalthoff told NBC5 anchors Ferguson and Scott Friedman that "I didn't actually speak to any of them" before he headed outside. In fact, Kalthoff didn't even seem to know if any players had arrived yet. But he said they were entitled to be a "little late" if they liked.

Ferguson noted that some of the players had been "up late" Wednesday doing a Top 10 List for CBS' Late Show with David Letterman. After all these years in the business, doesn't she know that Letterman always has taped his Manhattan-based show in the early evening? Also, none of the players left Dallas.

All concerned of course were all in for the Mavs, with Fox4 anchor Steve Eagar gushing at one point, "I really do like the fact that we can sit here and look at these guys and say, 'They are good dudes.' "

Eagar earlier fretted about being "too much of a 'homer' " while his parade site partner, Heather Hays, confessed, "I know I sound corny sometimes."

WFAA8's Izaguirre switched her Mavericks guard crush from J.J. Barea to Jason Terry. "I think he's my favorite. I really love seeing him do his little airplane thing," she said of "The Jet."

Hansen found something to like, too -- the Budweiser Clydesdales. He just couldn't say enough about these "magnificent animals." But Hansen eventually reverted to being something of a horse's ass. More on that later.

NBC5 sports anchors Newy Scruggs and Matt Barrie spent their entire time within the cool confines of the AAC, waiting for the post-parade celebration while occasionally beating on the team Dallas had beaten for the title.

"They got redemption against the hated Miami Heat," Barrie enthused.

"LeBron James is now looked at as a choker," Scruggs happily added.

NBC5's Kim Fischer (left) and her ad hoc holla girls.

Back out in the elements, NBC5 parade reporter Kim Fischer struggled to make sense.

"Look at all these fans," she said as the parade wound down. "They're trying to start to dissipate in the parking lot."

Fischer also apparently thought she was delivering something of a scoop on Terry's NBA trophy tattoo, telling the station's anchors, "I don't know if a lot of people know about this." Well, there have only been about two million stories on Terry's decision to boldly tat himself long before the Mavs took home the trophy. But who's counting?

During a subsequent interview with the women pictured above, Fischer asked the fan in the pink Mavericks shirt what she was waiting for the most during Thursday's parade.

"I was waitin' to get on TV," the woman answered.

This prompted Fischer to jump to the forefront and go a little nuts on camera about the candor she'd just provoked. But it was a fun moment.

Back on Fox4, longtime reporter Shaun Rabb called on his drama gene and went into post-parade overdrive in an assessment for anchors Eagar and Hays.

"Man, I cannot tell you just how exciting it was," he said. "The excitement pierced the air. And the heat no longer mattered as people lost themselves in the celebration."

Rabb then got hot when a fan waved a sign in front of his live shot. "C'mon man," he said, turning fierce as he shoved the sign away. Quickly shifting gears, he then asked some adjoining fans to demonstrate their excitement. Which they did with his approval.

Dirk leads off-key "We Are the Champions" from AAC balcony.

Before players and coaches got ready for the celebration inside the AAC, they appeared on the building's balcony to thanks fans and sing "We Are the Champions" to the Victory Plaza celebrants. Dirk Nowitzki took the lead, crooning with off-key exuberance while CBS11 stole the show on WFAA8's home court.

CBS11 had close-up shots of the group-sing along with clear audio. But on WFAA8, the pictures were distant and the audio murky at best.

"It is kind of hard to hear what they're saying. The acoustics aren't that great," anchor Slater said from her Victory Park perch before Nowitzki began singing. The audio got a bit better, but was no match for CBS11's. Not that it mattered. Slater, Hansen and Ortegel all pretty much drowned out Nowitzki with their cackling. But who's laughing now? CBS11 is. The station basically punk'd its arch rival with its telecast of a grand finale that WFAA8 never got a grip on.

Delkus and Slater strike familiar poses while Hansen keeps talking.

WFAA8 easily had the gabbiest coverage Thursday.

That tends to happen when you have non-stop Hansen in play along with five other parade anchor mouths also in need of feeding.

Even the loquacious Hansen might agree, though, that there was just too much Hansen. Well, maybe not.

Rival stations also gave viewers more than enough anchor chatter. But WFAA8's sextet, with the aforementioned Ortegel also on hand after the parade, just didn't seem to know when to stop. Hansen as always talked everyone under the table, before eventually raining on the post-parade event for Mavericks season ticket-holders inside the AAC.

Slater first noted that there seemed to be plenty of empty seats inside. Hansen, who had criticized the team's decision to invite only season ticket-holders, was quick to see an opening and tell his colleagues, "I think this is a mistake."

WFAA8's Janet St. James then reported that a dwindling crowd of fans outside the AAC were going to be allowed in to fill some of the vacancies. Hansen questioned whether this would work, terming it the "first little hiccup" of a day that otherwise had gone very well.

Then he got churlish, noting that the ceremony already was running late.

"This thing isn't going to start for an hour," he carped at 12:45 p.m. while extra fans were slowly being let in.

The ceremony in fact started all of three minutes later, at 12:48 p.m., with WFAA8, Fox4, NBC5 and CBS11 all carrying it live without any commercial interruptions.

All of the Mavericks players got a chance to address the crowd, as did coach Rick Carlisle and, climactically, owner Mark Cuban. The show ran until shortly after 2 p.m., with Hansen then telling Slater that he's immediately going on vacation.

He wasn't kidding -- and he needs one. But we'll cap this elongated writing exercise with a palate-cleansing picture from the AAC that needs no further explanation. Let's do it again next year.