It was a regular 11 p.m. ET SportsCenter on Thursday night but then again it wasn’t. It was a celebration.
Steve Levy was honored for 25 years as a SportsCenter anchor, and special guest host Keith Olbermann led the way in a show filled with nostalgia. Levy and Olbermann, hosting their first program together since 1996, went through news, scores and highlights, but the focus of the show was on Levy.
SportsCenter anchor Kenny Mayne, who has done hundreds of shows with Levy, was on another set hosting a “viewing party” with Levy’s longtime friend, ESPN hockey analyst Barry Melrose, who was wearing a white dinner jacket and sunglasses and chomping on a stogie. Montages of photos of Levy through the years appeared behind Levy and Olbermann.
The highlight of the hour-long program, and the centerpiece of the tribute, was a humorous three-minute video, written and narrated by Olbermann, that looked back over Levy’s career at ESPN. The essay included Levy’s first SportsCenter appearance in August of 1993, scenes from him hosting the show from Kuwait, clips from his many “This is SportsCenter” ads and memorable calls by him of hockey and college football games.
At the end of the video, Olbermann and Levy discussed his infamous “bulging disc” gaffe, and later Melrose joined him for a “Levy Lounge” segment.
Olbermann, Mayne and Levy concluded the show with Olbermann walking off, saying he had a car waiting, and Mayne said “I’ve got a quarter for you to commemorate 25 years but it’s in my car in the slot. Say good night, Steve.”
Levy, who admitted in a radio interview earlier in the day that he’d almost been embarrassed by the attention he’d received all week, wrapped with “I’m kind of Levy’d out myself, I can’t wait for Monday when I get to go back to being regular Steve Levy.”
But as Levy tossed to Scott Van Pelt to begin the midnight SportsCenter, the respect that his fellow anchors have for Levy was evident as Van Pelt said “we’ll have none of that. We’re going to fete you out here, too, and salute you, sir.
“We will continue to just bow at the feet of television’s Steve Levy – 25 years and counting.”