Event Previews

ESPN, ABC and Turner release this weekend’s NBA playoff schedule and assigned on-air talent (April 18-21)

Barkley and Webber quick to comment on Cousins' playoff ending injury; NBA's Casey Stern points out why Spurs' Popovich was asked few questions in post game conference

The schedule for the second weekend of NBA playoffs is below.

First, these are my random comments and observations on the announcers in the first round:

  • As you likely know, the Warriors’ 6′ 11″ DeMarcus Cousins is likely out for the remainder of the playoffs with a quad injury. When he went down untouched in game #2, Turner’s Chris Webber said ballplayers call such situations a ‘flat tire.’ He did immediately express concern for the seriousness of the injury. At halftime, Charles Barkley was frank, saying that his experience being around others who’ve suffered similarly with their quads, suggest to him that Cousins could be sidelined for a while. Charles was right.
  • Marv Albert brings his distinct cadence to the NBA telecasts, one that’s stamped with an unmistakable signature. His staccato delivery hasn’t waned a bit.
  • Brian Anderson, rumored for a Turner promotion brings a silky sound and an unrushed delivery, one that wears lastingly with viewers.
  • Spero Dedes continues to impress as he moves seamlessly from from football to basketball and from college to the NBA. Happy to see him used by Turner.
  • Kevin Harlan has the enthusiasm of an auctioneer and a cogent voice that keeps fans engaged.
  • In the NBA Network studio, Casey Stern was on the case the other night. After San Antonio squandered a big lead to Denver in game #2, coach Gregg Popovich did the required Q&A with the media. But there was a paucity of queries which was quite unusual and it left viewers wondering why. When host Stern took it back in the studio, he aptly explained. The losing coach addresses the media first so Gregg rushed in, before many had a chance to assemble. There was just a handful of media members in the room and as such few questions. Leave it to Pop. he is always a step ahead of everyone.
  • ESPN’s Ryan Ruocco is well prepared and enriches his broadcasts with pertinent facts and support data. But he’s still finding the range of his own voice. When he delivers much beyond a normal decibel it can be a bit unpleasant and intense on the ears. He’ll figure it out. No screaming allowed!
  • Dave Pasch  is a little out of  the Curt Gowdy school. He can slide from one event to another, radio to television, football to basketball, pro to college. He’s also demonstrated some personality working with Bill Walton. But transitioning from college to the NBA means different referee tempos. He’s struggled a couple times during the playoffs to immediately identify the correct players called for fouls.
  • Pete Pranica who called Portland Trailblazers games and now does the Memphis Grizzlies was assigned a couple telecasts for the NBA Network during the first round of the playoffs.  He’s a bit much on the numbers but otherwise does a decent job. Spewing stats without support of graphics is a waste of energy and every syllable uttered.The Suns’ TV man, Kevin Ray, got a game too.
  • May I ask, why not others, veteran broadcasters like the knowledgeable and longtime Heat voice, Eric Reed or the Hawks’ veteran, Bob Rathbun. I can understand avoiding announcers of participating teams but how about those senior voices for franchises that didn’t qualify for the playoffs?
  • I always liked ESPN’s Mark Jones. He’s intelligent and spices up the broadcasts with a richer word or two. His brother Paul Jones is the radio voice of the Toronto Raptors.
  • Hubie Brown who will be 86 in September is still the benchmark analyst; a teacher on the TV screen as well as on the court. He rarely gets too complicated.

Enjoy the NBA hoops!


Thursday, April 18

8p, Philadelphia-Brooklyn (#3), Spero Dedes, Greg Anthony, TNT

10:30p, Golden State-LA Clippers (#3) Brian Anderson, Kevin McHale, TNT

9p, Denver-San Antonio (#3) Pete Pranica, Isiah Thomas, Dennis Scott, NBA-TV

Friday, April 19

7p, Toronto at Orlando (#3) Adam Amin, PJ Carlesimo, ESPN

8:30p, Boston at Indiana (#3) Mark Jones, Hubie Brown, ABC

9:30p, Portland at Oklahoma City (#3)Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson, ESPN

Saturday, April 20 

8p, Milwaukee at Detroit  (#3) Ryan Ruocco, Chauncey Billups, ESPN

10:30p, Houston at Utah (#3) Dave Pasch, Doris Burke, ESPN

Sunday, April 21  

1p, Boston at Indiana (#4) Mark Jones, Hubie Brown, ABC

3:30p, Golden State at LA Clippers (#4) Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson, ABC


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David J. Halberstam

David is a 40-year + industry veteran who served as play-by-play announcer for St. John's University basketball in New York and as radio play-by-play voice of the Miami Heat in South Florida. He is the author of Sports on New York Radio: A Play-by-Play History and The Fundamentals of Sports Media and Sponsorship Sales: Developing New Accounts.

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Michael Green
5 years ago

A word about referees. I was the PA announcer for my high school’s basketball games, roughly around the time Naismith invented the sport. I always would get and announce the referees’ names. Some of them I dreaded–they would literally just go to the table and tell the scorer, who would then try to signal me if he could. A couple of them were so wonderfully hammy–even Dutch Rennert called plays more quietly than they did–that it made my life a lot easier. For some reason, I’m reminded of the time on ABC’s NBA coverage that Bill Russell said, “I hate… Read more »