Sunday, December 7, 2008

NBA -- Rating the announcers

So now that I have league pass (more cheers) and have been listening to NBA broadcasts around the league, the first thing that jumped out at me was the differing quality of the team's in-game announcers, the play-by-play and color commentators. Simply put, some of them are ready for prime-time, up to the quality TNT broadcasts (I always enjoy TNT's announcers), and some are just horrible. I started keeping a list, if only to save myself from the pain of some of the babblers and ramblers out there, but a few stick out in my mind.

The Ugly:

* Hornets: I don't know if I'll ever listen to a N'awlins home broadcast ever again. These guys take homerism to unbelievable levels. You could go an entire game without hearing one substantial remark about the opponent or their play. And the way they cover some plays, you're left to wonder which game they're watching. Ball thrown out of bounds? Must've been tipped. Foul by Chandler? Inconceivable. Chris Paul could defend Deron Williams by beating him in the head with a club and these guys would look for an offensive foul. The color commentator actually once took the time to pontificate about his belief that Kobe orchestrated the great Lakers breakup of 2004. I had to turn and check my calendar -- yup, it's still 2008. The word "Colorado" never turned up but I'm assuming I simply missed it when I went for a bathroom break. You usually have to go to a web forum to hear that level of ancient overt man-hating. As a matter of fact, that's the only place I want to go to hear it. I'd put these two on mute if they were commentating the basketball scenes in an episode of The Fresh Prince.

The Bad:

* Jazz, Nuggets, Celtics: Nearly as high on the homerism scale as the Hornets, except they actually watch the game that's transpiring in real life instead of the one being fed thru their rose-coloured glasses. You won't hear anything substantial about the opponent, but you also won't hear them blame a cross-wind for one of their players dribbling the ball off his foot during warmups. I might listen to their broadcasts again, but only after getting myself into the same mindset I'd use to watch Dumb & Dumberer, Step Brothers, or Fox News Network.

The Good:

* Grizzlies, Magic, Lakers: These broadcasters are like a breath of fresh air. The fans in those cities will actually hear something about both teams. It's really an amazing concept: to talk about the opponent. Their tendencies. Their good players. How they've been playing lately. How they're playing tonight -- good or bad. Plays they like to run. The fact that the opponent made a good play or that a player from the home team actually took four steps on the way to the rim. Beyond just hearing a fair, intelligent broadcast, you'll undoubtably learn a tidbit or two about the opponent by the end of the night. These guys realize they have 82 games to talk about the home team, that breaking a nightly monotony with facts about the opponent is actually good broadcasting.

Don't misunderstand, I expect a certain amount of hometown favouritism from the commentators. They shouldn't be working for that team if the aren't leaning their broadcast towards them. But there is a point at which favouritism becomes cheerleading. And a point at which cheerleading crosses the line into homerism.

Then there's a line wayyy far off in the distance, just past the horizon, a zip code reserved only for the Hornets broadcast. God, are they awful.

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