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Bob Costas recalls OJ Simpson’s attempt to call him during 1994 Bronco car chase, NBA Finals broadcast

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Bob Costas recalls OJ Simpson’s attempt to call him during 1994 Bronco car chase, NBA Finals broadcast

The death of Hall of Fame running back O.J. Simpson has elicited mixed emotions from former fans, friends and colleagues. 

Veteran sportscaster Bob Costas is one of them. 

The former NBC Sports broadcaster joined “Today” on Friday, when he recalled the controversial life of Simpson, whose illustrious NFL career was overshadowed by the trial and eventual acquittal in the 1994 killings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

Bob Costas of NBC Sports talks before the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on Jan. 16, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. (Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

“Well, it’s a complicated legacy to put it mildly,” Costas said.

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“Yes, I knew him well. All of us at NBC Sports, and throughout NBC who interacted with him, liked him very much. What I’m about to say doesn’t mitigate the crime that he obviously committed, but at the time, he was the sort of guy who would remember the name of the kid who brought you the newspapers and coffee when you first got to the set in the morning on Sunday to cover football.”

Costas added, “He was accommodating to every fan that came up to him, he enjoyed his celebrity, he was very good company, he was a hail fellow well met, and then all of that – in our perception and in public perception – changed one night in June of 1994.”

Costas, like many, remembers very well the June 17, 1994 car chase involving Simpson and his teammate Al Cowlings, who drove the white Ford Bronco. However, unlike others, Costas was put in a “unique position” as the chase coincided with Game 5 of the NBA Finals. 

A Ford Bronco carrying OJ Simpson (hidden in rear seat) is reportedly driven by Simpson's former teammate Al Cowlings

A Ford Bronco carrying O.J. Simpson, hidden in the rear seat, was reportedly driven by Simpson’s former teammate Al Cowlings and chased by dozens of police cars during an hourslong pursuit along Los Angeles area freeways on June 17, 1994. (Sam Mircovich/Reuters)

RELIVING JUNE 17, 1994, WHEN OJ SIMPSON’S CAR CHASE INTERRUPTED THE NBA FINALS IN AN ALREADY WILD SPORTS DAY

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“Every other network, every cable entity went live and carried it for hours upon hours. But we had not just a basketball game, an NBA Finals game, involving the No. 1 market in the country, not incidentally, the New York Nicks against the Houston Rockets. The series was tied 2-2, Game 5 was a close game.” 

“It was surreal, to put it mildly.” 

Costas also spoke in detail about the revelation made during a November 1994 prison visit with Simpson that during the car chase and coverage of the game, the former Buffalo Bills star made an attempt to call him. 

“Almost out of nowhere, Al Cowlings says ‘We tried to call you from the back of the Bronco.’ And I later learned that in fact they called the control room at the studio, but since I was at Madison Square Garden – in fact no one was there, the whole crew wasn’t there – but a tech answered the phone eventually and O.J. said ‘I need to speak to Bob Costas’ and the tech didn’t believe him. ‘Yeah right, who’s calling? O.J. Simpson, yeah right.’ Click – hung up the phone.” 

O.J. Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson

O.J. Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson were married for seven years before they divorced in 1992. Brown Simpson was murdered in 1994. (Vinnie Zuffante/Getty Images)

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Costas said that when asked why he was called, Simpson said he “was being defamed by the media.”

“Not so much about the allegations, which were then fresh about the allegations of the crime, but that his overall character and the life he had led was being defamed,” he recalled.

“And somehow he thought that someone who was his friend, as well as his colleague, could perhaps, in effect, act as a character witness. And what I didn’t bother to tell him, since it was a moot point, was that if he had gotten through to me and if he had agreed to go on the air, then I would’ve had to ask him some very pointed questions.”

Simpson, 76, died Wednesday after battling prostate cancer. 

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Celtics advance to NBA Finals after completing sweet of Pacers

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Celtics advance to NBA Finals after completing sweet of Pacers

All season long, the Eastern Conference was the Boston Celtics’ to lose.

After dominating their side of the bracket, they are back in the NBA Finals.

The Celtics completed the sweep of the Indiana Pacers on Monday night to return to the bidding of the Larry O’Brien Trophy for the second time in three seasons.

Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics accepts The Larry Bird Trophy after winning Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on May 27, 2024 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

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The Pacers did all they could to live to see another day, leading by as many as nine points, but Derrick White broke a 102-102 tie with a three-pointer with just about 45 seconds to go.

Indy led by four with 3:33 to go, but missed their final four shots and turned the ball over twice – Jrue Holiday grabbed an offensive rebound with just over four seconds left to ice it.

The Celtics are seeking revenge after last year’s utter failure, where as the No. 2 seed, lost in the first round to the Miami Heat, an eighth seed, in the Eastern Conference Finals – they had fallen in that series, three games to none, and forced a Game 7, but lost it.

Celtics win East

The Boston Celtics celebrate after winning Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on May 27, 2024 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Boston has not won the title since 2008 – they lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games two years ago. It’s currently their second-longest drought, with their longest having been from 1987 to their most recent championship season 15 years ago. 

After beating the Los Angeles Lakers that year, Kobe Bryant got revenge by winning two years later, going back-to-back.

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Tyrese Haliburton missed his second-straight game for Indiana with an injured left hamstring.

Jaylen Brown with trophy

Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics accepts the The Larry Bird Trophy earning the Eastern Conference Finals MVP after winning Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on May 27, 2024 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Boston is 12-2 in these playoffs – they beat both the No. 8 Heat and No. 4 Cleveland Cavaliers in five games.

Jaylen Brown was named the series MVP, averaging 27.3 points per game.

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Eagles Flight, half brother to Flightline, makes impressive winning debut at Santa Anita

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Eagles Flight, half brother to Flightline, makes impressive winning debut at Santa Anita

As Eagles Flight was walked from the detention barn toward the paddock at Santa Anita on Monday, the 3-year-old son of Curlin could look up and see a mural of his half brother, 2022 Horse of the Year Flightline. Expectations were high for Eagles Flight’s debut after a series of dazzling workouts, and let’s just say the future looks bright.

With jockey Flavien Prat aboard and sent off as the even-money favorite, Eagles Flight won the maiden special weight race for six furlongs by 2 3/4 lengths in 1:10.07. The way Eagles Flight pulled away in the stretch and overcame being in tight quarters and having dirt kicked into his face made trainer John Sadler very happy.

“He got about four races of experience in him from one race,” Sadler said.

There was a brief delay in the paddock because Prat was wearing the wrong silks and needed to switch to those from Summer Wind Equine, the breeder and primary owner with Hronis Racing and William Farish. Eagles Flight’s mother, Feathered, also produced Flightline, who won all six of his starts and also was trained by Sadler.

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Sadler said afterward Eagles Flight acts as if he wants to run a mile, so that could be in the future plans, maybe even the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Del Mar later this year.

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Bill Walton's former colleague, Jim Gray, 'heartbroken' over death of 'best friend': 'A national treasure'

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Bill Walton's former colleague, Jim Gray, 'heartbroken' over death of 'best friend': 'A national treasure'

The sports world lost an icon on Monday as basketball Hall of Famer-turned-analyst Bill Walton died of cancer at age 71.

Walton was loved by many, especially former colleague Jim Gray, who worked with Walton for several networks, and the two shared a friendship for 40 years.

“My heart is broken. Bill Walton was the best friend a guy could ever have,” Gray sent in an email to Fox News Digital. “He was loving, generous, kind, caring, intelligent, and so much fun. He loved life, his family, basketball, and most of all, people. I always marveled at how he had time for everyone and was never in a hurry. Bill was a national treasure and brought joy to the world.”

Announcer Jim Gray, right, is shown with analyst Bill Walton during the Duke-Wisconsin game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on April 6, 2015. (John W. McDonough/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

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“For 40 years, every time we were together, we would laugh,” he wrote. “He was a library of knowledge and a fountain of wisdom. Broadcasting games together at CBS, NBC, ESPN, ABC, Westwood One, and the [Sacramento] Kings was a strange and wonderful journey. I’m grateful for all the years with Bill. It was the blessing of a lifetime. He will be in my heart forever.”

“May God rest his soul and bless Lori, Adam, Chris, Nate, and Luke. Frann and I send our love, and we will always honor Bill’s memory and be there for the Walton family, just as he was always there for us,” Gray continued.

“Bill would always say, ‘I’m the luckiest man in the world.’” No, Bill, I am, and we all are, because we knew you. Rest in peace, my friend.”

Walton once credited Gray for saving his life in 2017 by finding his spine surgeon when he had been going through physical issues and his spine “absolutely collapsed and failed” nine years prior. Walton said he “had nothing” and contemplated the worst.

Bill Walton smiles

Bill Walton as a part of State Farm All-Star Saturday Night on Feb. 17, 2024, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. (David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)

LEBRON JAMES’ AGENT SEEMS TO REVEAL NBA STAR’S OFFSEASON PLANS

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“My life was not worth living. I was going to kill myself. If I had a gun, I would have used it,” Walton said. “But Jim called every single day, said, ‘Bill, don’t give up, you can make it …’ He did everything he could to make sure I still had a chance.”

Walton won three straight national player of the year awards from 1972 to 1974 before becoming the first overall pick in the 1974 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers. His impact on an NBA court was quick as the Trail Blazers would go on to win the 1978 NBA Championship, and Walton was named Finals MVP and the league MVP for that season.

Following his time in Portland, Walton moved on to the then-San Diego Clippers, where he spent four seasons, including his final one when they moved to Los Angeles. He joined the Celtics for the 1985-1986 season, helping them to the NBA title that year, and he was named the league’s Sixth Man of the Year as well.  

Walton finished his career averaging 13.3 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game over 468 contests. He was named to the NBA’s 50th and 75th anniversary teams.

Walton’s color commentary was exceptional as he would always keep viewers – and his play-by-play partners – on their toes with wild stories from his playing days while providing excellent analysis and insight on the game at the same time.

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Walton was also a father who passed the game down to his children, including Luke Walton, who won back-to-back NBA Finals with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009 and 2010 during his playing days. Luke currently serves as an assistant coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers after previously head coaching the Lakers (2016-2019) and Kings (2019-2022).

Bill Walton calling game

Bill Walton (Ethan Miller/Getty Images/File)

Chris Walton (San Diego State), Nate Walton (Princeton) and Adam Walton (LSU, Pomona College, College of Notre Dame) all played college basketball as well.

Fox News’ Scott Thompson contributed to this report.

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