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Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.

David Gregory is tall

So anyway, as I was saying. It was an eventful day in the big city Thursday. I started by buying a large oatmeal raisin cookie for $1.50 from a guy set up outside on Broadway and 66th, which was a pretty good deal for Manhattan, I thought. Then I headed up to the AMC theater just north of Lincoln Center, which until today was the only place in New York one could see "The Fighter," a film I had to write about for the Friday newspaper. In only-in-New-York fashion, there was a 10-minute line to buy a ticket. On a Thursday. At 10:30 a.m.! The good news was that the ticket cost only $6, which certainly is not a normal Manhattan movie experience. Anyway, the film is good. I forgot to include it in my list of top 10 boxing movies in the Friday newspaper, but it certainly deserves a place on that list. Some have criticized Christian Bale's performance as being a tad over-the-top, but he insists he actually had to tone down the real Dicky Eklund to avoid overwhelming audiences and/or confuse them with the real deal's barely understandable, rapid-fire Massachusetts accident. After the film I took the 1 train to Times Square and the "Good Morning in America" studios, where I just missed a group session in which David Stern spoke to reporters about the pending NBA labor troubles. But I did hang out in the green room of a "Chalk Talk" event ESPN was doing to promote Friday night's Heat-Knicks tilt (in 3D!) and spoke to Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy about all the excitement over the Knicks' revival in general and Wednesday night's thriller in particular. After the event I caught up with Stern and George Bodenheimer on the same topic and wrote about it in the Friday paper. They rank No. 3 and 2, respectively, on Sports Business Journal's new list of the 50 most influential people in sports. While I had Stern to myself I reminded him he yelled at me in 1985 - curse words included - when our sports editor, the late, great Dick Sandler, had me call him for a clarification on the  NBA's drug policy. When I informed Sandler that Stern had cursed me out he told me not to worry about it. He and Stern were fraternity brothers at Rutgers and Stern mostly was just busting my chops. I told Stern Thursday that I had survived the incident and no longer am intimidated by sports figures cursing at me. After the NBA event I went to the studios of SNY, which was nice enough to give me an ethernet cable and a table so I could write stuff for the Friday newspaper and catch up on emails. While I was there SNY honcho Curt Gowdy Jr. watched the video of my appearance on "Wheelhouse" from the field in Detroit Monday night and mostly gave me a positive review. But he advised me to hold the microphone with more authority the next time. He and SNY president Steve Raab promised to work on a vehicle that best suits my TV talents. I'm thinking of maybe a talk show about the issues of the day called "Newsday Live." After I was through writing I made the one-block walk to 30 Rock, past the tree and tourists, for NBC's annual holiday party. Had a nice chat there with Dick Ebersol (No. 6 on SBJ's list) about various sports-TVish stuff, including the much improved Sunday night studio show. Other famous people at the party included Tom Brokaw, Lorne Michaels, Meredith Vieira, Jeff Zucker and David Gregory, who was tall, and who interrupted by discussion with Ebersol to say hello to him. After the party I went to the SNY studios at Sixth and 51st and taped a year-end special with three of my fellow sports business/media scribes: Richard Sandomir of the Times, Phil Mushnick of the Post and John Ourand of SBJ. Kevin Burkhardt hosted. It premieres at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 23, and covers the year in New York sports in general and New York sports media in particular. This would be an excellent opportunity for sports TV executives and p.r. people to exact some revenge by critiquing our performances, doing unto us what we do unto them. After the taping the people on the panel went out to dinner with Gowdy and SNY news boss Brad Como, who despite developing "Around the Horn" when he was at ESPN seems like a nice and competent fellow. A pleasant time was had by all, it seemed. I ordered the tuna. Usually in steak houses I order salmon but I wanted to change things up. By 11:30 p.m. the restaurant still was more than half full, meaning I began and ended the day with only-in-New York experiences. In my town the restaurant chefs are home asleep by 11:30. I jogged much of the way from 49th Street to 32nd and caught the 11:52 train out of Penn Station. And that was that. Do I understand and appreciate I have one of the best jobs in sports journalism? Indeed, I do.

Tags: Empire State of Mind

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