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Sunday, March 02, 2008

My Least Favorite NBA Announcer

I am turning this post into an interactive quiz. I will list some things that my least favorite NBA announcer recently said and see how many readers can figure out who I am talking about; you can make your guesses in the comments section. My theory is that most people who closely follow the NBA will be able to pretty quickly figure out who is the subject of this post. Here are some of his "greatest hits":

1) Sometimes announcers have to "fill" (kill time) at the end of a show. The best announcers do this so well that you hardly even notice that they are doing it. This guy recently started killing time in the middle of a show--and actually said out loud that he was killing time, though it was not at all obvious why it should be necessary to do so at that point. For some inexplicable reason he informed viewers that virtually every member of his family was born in March, including his kindergarten girlfriend. When you run out of constructive things to say less than 15 minutes into a 30 minute show you might be in the wrong business. To be fair, some of the responsibility for this must also be shouldered by the producer and the director. Did they not have any meetings that day to discuss which basketball topics would be covered during the broadcast?

2) "In the history of the NBA, no 50 win team has never not made the playoffs." (I felt a vague sense of dizziness after hearing that one; to his credit, the announcer did immediately acknowledge that he might have thrown a few too many double negatives in there. Isn't that why scripts and teleprompters were invented?)

3) "Stan Van Gundy is one of those coaches, you impress me, you do what I want you to do in practice, you'll be playing." (Are there any coaches who do not play the players who do well in practice and instead elect to go with the players who practice poorly?)

4) Shortly after the above waste of airtime, the announcer tried to paraphrase something that Orlando guard Keyon Dooling told him about Coach Van Gundy: "We're trying to be professional because we know he'll call our perspective numbers." ("respective" is the correct word)

5) This announcer often makes mistakes regarding the nuts and bolts of his job: he consistently misidentifies players during highlights and he often appears to be incapable of accurately reading the boxscore data that his network displays on the TV screen for viewers to see. Sometimes he'll say that a game was played in a certain city but as soon as the highlight runs it is very obvious that the game was not played there. OK, maybe that could happen to anyone once or twice but it happens to him a lot. The pathetic thing is that this mistake is unnecessary in so many ways. If you are that confused about where games are being played, then don't try to give extra information; just read the scripted highlight package and be done with it. Yet, for some reason, this guy feels compelled to constantly try to show how much he thinks that he knows. At times, he turned "Making the Call With Ronnie Nunn"--a good series that the NBA should not have canceled--into an unintentional comedy show with his rambling introductions before highlights; he invariably was wrong about numerous details concerning the play in question. As the saying goes, it is better for people to think that you are a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. He had the simplest job in the world--all he had to do is say, "Ronnie, this next play deals with the always tough block/charge call." Instead, we got something like, "This play features Motown's finest, Chauncey Billups going against the Milwaukee Bucks." Then the clip rolls and we find out that it was Lindsey Hunter going against the Celtics or something.

6) For a brief period, his favorite question was, "Is team x the kind of team that will be concerned whether they are up 10 or down 10 at halftime?" When he asked that question to the studio analysts they looked as perplexed as I am when I type those words. What the hell is he talking about? Instead of pondering before the game what one team might do if they are up 10 or down 10 by halftime why not ask the analysts about a key matchup or strategy that viewers should monitor during the game? Again, I fault the director and producer here as well, because by this point in time they should realize that their guy needs some help in terms of scripting good questions to ask the studio analysts. Leaving him to his own devices is like abandoning a blind person to cross a busy street without a guide dog or any form of assistance.

7) His favorite phrase is "in a big, big way." For example, he will say something like "Tim Duncan scored 31 points and that is getting it done in a big, big way." Maybe this actually goes back to example one and he is simply killing time because he has nothing informative to say. This is not the biggest broadcasting sin in the world, of course, but it does become annoying after a while, particularly in concert with the numerous gaffes that this guy makes.

I understand that being a TV or radio announcer is not easy; a director or producer is constantly talking in your ear, sometimes there are technical problems and if you are on the air live then you simply have to move forward no matter what. I also understand that even a great announcer will make mistakes now and then--but the above examples represent how this guy typically performs. He washed out at one big network but he has been given a lot of responsibilities by his current employer. My hope is that now that TNT has gained control over NBA TV that there will be a thinning out of the ranks and that we will see more of Ernie Johnson and less of the subject of this post.

posted by David Friedman @ 2:26 AM

20 comments

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20 Comments:

At Sunday, March 02, 2008 10:56:00 AM, Blogger Brendan K. said...

Hubie Brown?

 
At Sunday, March 02, 2008 3:42:00 PM, Blogger Ben Q. Rock said...

I'm going to guess it's this gentleman who vexes you the most.

 
At Sunday, March 02, 2008 3:50:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who the hell is this announcer? Must be from NBA tv.

 
At Sunday, March 02, 2008 4:31:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill Walton?

 
At Sunday, March 02, 2008 10:30:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Hubie Brown????

He's my FAVORITE NBA commentator (sorry to shout but I'm just amazed that anyone would guess that I was talking about him).

Walton can be annoying at times but it is important to realize that he is being deliberately over the top (I think).

The announcer who this post is about is indeed from NBA TV but it's not Fred Carter. I like the Mad Dog.

I'll let everyone ponder this a little bit longer and then post the answer on Monday.

 
At Monday, March 03, 2008 11:02:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's either Kenny Smith or Charles Barkley

 
At Monday, March 03, 2008 11:59:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave,

It must be Charles Barkley.

This is Eric Poch!

 
At Monday, March 03, 2008 12:33:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rick Kamla...if it is him, I must say he's in my top 5 worst as well

 
At Monday, March 03, 2008 1:52:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

The announcer in question is not one of the TNT guys. As I said in my previous comment, he works for NBA TV.

Rick Kamla is a very good guess. He would be in my top five worse NBA announcers for sure but at least one guy gets on my nerves even more than he does. I'm still trying to figure out how Kamla got on the air in the first place. He didn't play anywhere to the best of my knowledge--and that's fine, as long as you add something to the telecast, but basically all he does is worship Kevin Garnett, spout cliches and give advice to people who play fantasy basketball.

I'm going to give this a few more hours and then I'll post the answer.

 
At Monday, March 03, 2008 2:29:00 PM, Blogger madnice said...

There are plenty bad ones. Now Kamla is not an announcer hes more of a studio host. And he is terrible. Im assuming you mean studio hosts not color commentators.

I would assume its Andre Aldridge since he and Ron Burke are the only host on NBATV, and Burke is good and has never been at a big network just locals in Philly. Unless you are including the cat who does Fantasy Hoops.

 
At Monday, March 03, 2008 2:30:00 PM, Blogger madnice said...

ben q.rock....im still laughing at seeing that Freddie Carter basketball card.

 
At Monday, March 03, 2008 3:54:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

We have a winner...Andre Aldridge is indeed the subject of this post!

I used the term "announcer" in the general sense to include broadcasters who are studio hosts, play by play men and color commentators. If I just said "studio host," then I would have only been including a handful of people.

Aldridge works primarily as a studio host. I still cannot figure out how he gets so much stuff wrong when he has a script in front of him, a teleprompter and a director or producer talking in his ear. I wonder sometimes how Fred Carter, Frank Isola, Pete Vecsey and the others keep a straight face when Aldridge goes off on tangents or asks them questions that make no sense.

Based on the responses, either Aldridge does not get on other people's nerves as much as he gets on mine--or there are so many announcers who irritate people that you could not narrow it down to just one guy!

 
At Monday, March 03, 2008 10:56:00 PM, Blogger madnice said...

Thank you David.....I know what you meant. Aldridge is terrible. There are plenty of bad color commentators i can name. Hubie definitely isnt one of them.

 
At Saturday, March 08, 2008 12:17:00 AM, Blogger madnice said...

Friday night was a perfect example. Vecsey, Roy Johnson, and Aldridge were talking about the Suns after the Jazz and Suns game. Aldridge said he was fooled by the Suns and how well they played defensively during the Pistons and Celtics. Vecsey says "No the Pistons killed them. They didnt play well against the Pistons." Aldridge says, "If you let me finish my sentence I know you are used to cutting people off." Vecsey gave him this look like ok are you even listening to yourself you idiot. Aldridge finishes to say how they beat the Celtics and doesnt even mention about what he said about the Pistons. They went to the next highlight and Vecsey was calm. Aldridge is so ignorant its ridiculous. I wish I could have heard what Vecsey said during the commercial break. He had to of curse him out.

Before this they went into a segment talking about the HOF with Kamla, Vecsey and Johnson. Vecsey says how are guys like Dantley and Wilkes not in. He said he shouldnt have voted for Penny and that by Kamla projecting who should be in the Hall is stupid because you really dont know what they are going to do.

So in another segment of highlights Vecsey starts talking about how Lawrence Frank should be in the HOF after his first two years. Then Vecsey went nutty. He said, "Hey Aldridge I put you in the HOF after your first two years as a broadcaster. What happened after that? Aldridge says,"I got better." Vecsey says, "Thats not what I wrote. I dont remember that. Who told you that? The whole time Johnson is saying nothing. It was great TV. Later on in the segment Vecsey says lets talk about who you dont like at the station. Aldridge then apologized to Peter for the previous segment. Vecsey definitely got him back for.

 
At Saturday, March 08, 2008 12:49:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Madnice:

Vecsey is very entertaining, he knows his stuff and he is a self-proclaimed ABA guy. Sometimes he takes cheaps shots at people--but sometimes those cheap shots are at least semi-deserved (to make up a word).

I first met Vecsey several years ago at a Pacers game. We talked about the ABA, players he covered, etc. Vecsey is as direct in person as he is in print or on the air; at one point, he asked me who was my favorite interview subject and which interview subject gave me the most trouble. Unlike a lot of media people, I try to refrain from talking about which people are not cooperative interview subjects; I take what I can get from them and move on to people who are more willing to talk. So I told Vecsey about a few of the good interviews I had done by that time but told him I had not really had any bad experiences. He immediately retorted, "You haven't been in the business long enough." I don't always agree with his take on things but I respect him because he knows his stuff and he speaks his mind. Like you, I've often wondered what the off-camera relationship between he and Aldridge is like. I can just picture him cussing Aldridge out, like you said.

 
At Monday, March 10, 2008 8:58:00 AM, Blogger madnice said...

Vecsey has always been favorite because of his bluntness. he doesnt sugar coat anything. i dont always agree with him but most of the time i do. plus the fact that in the early 70s at the rucker when he was coaching dr.j team he was probably the only white guy in harlem. hes gets a lot of respect right there.(he had billy paultz on one of those teams so hes not the only white guy) The situation with aldridge was definitely aldridges fault and its a shame that he has a job there.

 
At Wednesday, December 10, 2008 1:47:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Best:
Kevin Calabro
Steve Jones
Mike Breen
Hubie Brown
Marv Albert
Mike Fratello

Worst:
Bill Walton
Bob Costas

Andre Alridge and Peter Vecsey are not announcers but for the record they are both awful.

 
At Wednesday, December 10, 2008 6:16:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Anonymous:

I agree with your "best" list.

I would say that Walton is an acquired taste. When he actually talks about basketball it is interesting to listen to him because he had so much success as a player and is so knowledgeable but it can be distracting when he goes off on tangents or says things for shock value.

Costas seems to inspire very strong opinions. I have a cousin who absolutely cannot stand him. I don't know if you remember Costas when he first started out on NBC doing their studio football show; I think that it was called "NFL Live." This was in the early 1980s. I did not like him then; he came off as very smug. However, over time I grew to respect how informed he is about various sports. I thought that he did a great job when NBC had the NBA contract. So I would not put him on the "worst" list but I know that he rubs a lot of people the wrong way.

 
At Tuesday, February 03, 2009 6:34:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish you could get someone else to do color for NBA. Hubie Brown does not shut up long enough for the paly by play person to announce the game. And he constantly mispronounces players names. I with he would go somewhere else and do something else. He is terribly irritating. I cannot watch a game that he is on even if it is my favorite team.

 
At Tuesday, February 03, 2009 10:36:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Anonymous:

I completely disagree with you. Hubie Brown is the best NBA color commentator because of the way that he objectively breaks down exactly what each team is trying to do. Yes, he mispronounces some names sometimes but he has vast knowledge about the game and does a great job explaining things. I don't think that he talks over his play by play announcers.

 

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