Utah Jazz basketballer Karl Malone’s clunker misses of two key free throws in the final minutes of the NBA Championships on Sunday provided an interesting segue for “Dateline NBC” and a fascinating glimpse at the deadline, if not haphazard, nature of the newsmag biz.
The Jane Pauley/Stone Phillips-hosted show had banked a 15-minute segment, produced by “Dateline” staff producers Fred Rothenberg and Andi Gitow, about the painful art of “choking” in major sporting events. Problem was they couldn’t tag it to a news peg because no major athletes had choked in the past six months.
Less than one minute after Malone missed the key free throw on national TV, “Dateline” senior producer Marc Rosenwasser was on the phone to Rothenberg, telling him: “There’s your peg. There’s your peg.”
“Dateline” quickly restructured the segment to include Malone’s faux pas and a new intro by Pauley. “Dateline” exec producer Neal Shapiro then squeezed it into Tuesday night’s show (10 p.m., EDT).
NBC can only hope “Dateline” will score as heavily in the Nielsens as the game, which drew an overnight 17.8 rating and a 29 share.