Announcers

Happy birthday! It’s the NBA’s 75th! We salute the league’s all-time top 75 network and team voices

 

RECOGNIZING THE 75 TOP NBA BROADCASTERS AS THE LEAGUE CLEBRATES ITS 75th BIRTHDAY

THE MARTY GLICKMAN TOP 75 NBA BROADCASTERS 

Not long after Canadian born James Naismith invented the game, basketball became popular at colleges across America. But it wasn’t until roughly twenty years after radio hit the ethers in 1921 that hoops found an on-air home. Early on, it was a tough sell because the incessant flow of basketball had few pauses, making the game difficult to follow. A young, budding broadcaster named Marty Glickman, developed a system that labeled the basketball court’s landscape and gave the game a seamless, rhythmic call on radio. 

Marty followed the ball magically on radio with a rapid-fire and riveting staccato. As interest in basketball swelled and more broadcasts surfaced, there was a run on recordings of Glickman’s play-by-play. Marty (1917-2001) was the progenitor of basketball broadcasting. No one will question it.

In 1946, 75 years ago, Ned Irish of Madison Square Garden asked Glickman to call the games of the Knicks who were charter members of the NBA. The rest is history. Many years ago, Al McCoy, who’s in his 50th year calling Phoenix Suns games, told me he credits Marty for popularizing the NBA on the east coast and the Lakers’ Chick Hearn on the west coast.

Many Lessons Still to Be Taught by an Old Master - The New York TimesIrish believed that the NBA would flourish if it attracted women to the stands. Sara Palfree Cooke, a tennis player, was asked to do Knicks color. But Marty knew he was in trouble when on the train to St. Louis for their first broadcast, Sarah asked him, how many points a team gets for making a basket.

Glickman (with pupil Albert, left) taught many voices how to broadcast basketball on radio. In New York alone, his star pupils included Marv Albert, Johnny Most and Spencer Ross. In 1951, Glickman did the first All-Star game on national radio. Shortly thereafter he was the voice of the league’s first national TV package on NBC.

In his honor, we invoke Marty Glickman’s name in listing these voices. These are the 75 noted announcers who popularized the NBA across the country beginning with the league’s roots, when the NBA tipped off in November, 1946.

I didn’t pull these names out of a hat. The selection was based on contribution to NBA broadcasting, distinctiveness, admiration for the selected announcer and time-in grade. Yelpers get demerits.

WE BEGIN WITH THE TOP FIVE IN THE MAJOR CATEGORIES:

(in alphabetical order)

All Time Network – Top play-by-play, analysts, studio participants and sideliners

Play-by-Play Marv Albert (NBC, Turner), Brian Anderson (Turner), Mike Breen (ESPN), Kevin Harlan (Turner) and Dick Stockton (CBS, Turner)

Analysts: Hubie Brown (ABC, CBS, ESPN, Turner), Doug Collins (CBS, ESPN, Turner, NBC), Jeff Van Gundy (ESPN), Mark Jackson (ESPN) and Doc Rivers (Turner and ABC)

Studio: Charles Barkley (Turner), Bob Costas (NBC), Ernie Johnson, Jr. (Turner), Kenny Smith (Turner) and Hannah Storm (NBC)

Sideliners: Craig Sager (Turner), Doris Burke (ESPN), Pat O’Brien (CBS), Ahmad Rashad (NBC), Lesley Visser (CBS)

 

All Time Team Broadcasters

Radio/TV play-by-play simulcasters Kevin Calabro (sonics), Chick Hearn (Lakers), Hot Rod Hundley (Jazz) Bill King (Warriors) and Al McCoy (Suns)

TV play-by-play Marv Albert (Knicks), Mike Breen, (Knicks) Mike Gorman (Celtics), Ralph Lawler (Clippers) and Marc Zumoff (76ers)

Radio play-by-play: Marv Albert (Knicks), Marty Glickman (Knicks), Johnny Most (Celtics), Gene Peterson (Rockets) and Joe Tait (Cavaliers)

Team Analysts: Walt Frazier (Knicks), Tommy Heinsohn (Celtics), Stu Lantz (Lakers), Jon McGlocklin (Bucks), Slick Leonard (Pacers)

remembering marty glickman
Glickman at old Madison Square Garden where the Knicks played their last game in 1968

THE  NBA 75 BROADCASTERS

(42 Team, 33 Network)

TEAM BROADCASTERS – RADIO, TV, SIMULCASTERS AND ANALYSTS

(IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER)

 

  1. Al Albert (Nets, Nuggets, Pacers) (r)
  2. Steve Albert (Nets, Warriors, Suns, Hornets) (r)
  3. John Andariese (Knicks) (d)
  4. Jim Barnett (Warriors)
  5. Bob Blackburn (Seattle Sonics) (d)The first game in NBA history took place on this day 74 years ago in Toronto - Article - Bardown
  6. George Blaha (Pistons)
  7. Buddy Blattner (St. Louis Hawks) (d)
  8. Marc Boyle (Pacers)
  9. Skip Caray (Hawks) (d)
  10. Kevin Calabro (Supersonics, Trail Blazers)
  11. Bill Campbell (Philadelphia Warriors) (d)
  12. Ted Davis (Mavs, Bucks) (r)
  13. Eddie Doucette (Bucks +) (r)
  14. Jim Durham (Bulls, Mavs) (d)
  15. Walt Frazier (Knicks)
  16. Neil Funk (Bulls, Nets+) (r)
  17. Hilliard Gates (Fort Wayne Pistons) (d)
  18. Marty Glickman (Knicks, NBA’s pioneer voice) (d)
  19. Mike Gorman (Celtics) 
  20. Chick Hearn (Lakers) (d)
  21. Steve Holman (Hawks)
  22. Hot Rod Hundley (Jazz) (d)Newspapers clippings from 1949 clearly state that the BAA-NBL merger created a new league. (Karen Given/Only A Game)
  23. Jim Karvellas (Knicks, Bullets) (d)
  24. Bill King (Warriors) (d)
  25. Stu Lantz (Lakers)
  26. Ralph Lawler (Clippers) (r)
  27. Slick Leonard (Pacers) (d)
  28. Al McCoy (Suns) 
  29. Jon McGlocklin (Bucks) (r)
  30. Andy Musser (76ers) (d)
  31. Grant Napear (Kings)
  32. Jim Paschke (Bucks) (r)
  33. Gene Peterson (Rockets) (r)
  34. Jack Ramsay (Heat) (d)
  35. Bob Rathbun (Hawks) 
  36. Eric Reid (Heat)
  37. Spencer Ross (Nets, Celtics, Knicks) (r)
  38. Bill Schonley (Trail Blazers) (r)
  39. David Steele (Magic) 
  40. Joe Tait (Cavaliers) (d)
  41. Bill Worrell (Rockets) (r)
  42. Marc Zumoff (76ers) (r)

 

ALL-TIME  NETWORK – TOP PLAY-BY-PLAY, ANALYSTS, STUDIO PARTICIPANTS AND SIDELINERS

(IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER)

  1. -Marv Albert (NBC, Turner) (r)
  2. -Brian Anderson (Turner)
  3. -Charles Barkley (Turner)The NBA Celebrates 75 years! #NBA75 - YouTube
  4. -Rick Barry (CBS) (r)
  5. -Mike Breen (ESPN, ABC) 
  6. -Hubie Brown (CBS, ESPN, Turner)
  7. -Doris Burke (ESPN, ABC)
  8. -Doug Collins (ESPN, Turner)
  9. -Bob Costas (NBC)
  10. -Ian Eagle (Turner)
  11. -Mike Fratello (NBC, Turner)
  12. -Kevin Harlan (Turner)
  13. -Tommy Heinsohn (CBS) (d)
  14. -Mark Jackson (ESPN)
  15. -Ernie Johnson Jr. (Turner)
  16. -Magic Johnson (NBC +)
  17. -Mark Jones (ESPN, ABC)
  18. -Verne Lundquist (Turner, CBS) (r)
  19. -Reggie Miller (Turner) 
  20. -Brent Musburger (ESPN, ABC, CBS) NBA celebrates first game anniversary on Nov. 1 in New York | NBA.com
  21. -Pat O’Brien (CBS) (r)
  22. -Shaquille O’Neal (Turner)
  23. -Ahmad Rashad (NBC)
  24. -Doc Rivers (Turner)
  25. -Bill Russell (ABC, CBS) (r)
  26. -Craig Sager (Turner) (d)
  27. -Lisa Salters (ABC, ESPN)
  28. -Kenny Smith (Turner)
  29. -Dick Stockton (CBS, Turner) (r)
  30. -Hannah Storm (NBC)
  31. -Jeff Van Gundy (ESPN)
  32. -Lesley Visser (CBS)
  33. -Chris Webber (Turner)

(r) retired

(d) deceased

 

A network fixture for almost 50 years, Brent Musburger. He  called 6 NBA Finals from 1975-1980.

Buddy Blattner called the Hawks games before they moved to Atlanta in 1968

 

CBS’ Dick Stockton identified with the Lakers Showtime

 

chick hearn

The beloved Chick Hearn, Lakers’ announcer, 1960-2002

 

al mccoy square profile

Al McCoy, an icon in Phoenix, This is his 50th record-setting season

 Joe Tait painted an immaculate picture. 
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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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