The NBA tipped off its 2021-22 schedule last week. As for broadcasters, the off-season was active. Lots of changes. The biggest is the retirement of Marv Albert whose first NBA broadcast was in 1963. He retired this summer after 58 brilliant years behind the microphone.
When Marv started under his mentor Marty Glickman, the NBA had only nine teams. By the time he put down the mic, the league grew to thirty teams. Albert will be a tough act to follow. Mike Breen has succeeded him and fans seem to have accepted him. Breen will tell you that his role-model is Marv whose legacy lives on.
Here’s the NBA broadcast activity through the off-season, followed by the roster of broadcasters, both network and team voices.
- Both members of TNT’s top broadcast team are gone. Hall of Famer Marv Albert, 80, called it quits after the 2020–21 season and more than half a century covering NBA games. Turner has not named a new lead play-by-play man, with candidates expected to include Kevin Harlan, Ian Eagle, and Brian Anderson.
- Lead TNT analyst Chris Webber left the network before the 2021 NBA playoffs. Reggie Miller was the color commentator on the conference finals last season, but Turner will likely include a second analyst on marquee games, with candidates likely to be Grant Hill, Jim Jackson, and Stan Van Gundy, the latter of whom rejoined TNT after being fired by the New Orleans Pelicans in June.
- ESPN has added Brian Custer and Beth Mowins to its NBA play-by-play stable, now that broadcast crews are on the road, ESPN’s coverage necessitates more than four broadcast teams.
- Longtime Houston Rockets TV play-by-play man Bill Worrell, 77, retired after a 41-year tenure with the team. Worrell had only done home games for the previous few seasons. Craig Ackerman, who called games on radio at home and on TV on the road, now moves to TV full-time. Matt Thomas, the team’s public address announcer at home and radio play-by-play man on the road, is now the Rockets’ radio broadcaster for all 82 of their games.
- The Rockets also made a change in the analyst chair on TV, with 10-year NBA center Ryan Hollins replacing Matt Bullard. Popular former Rocket Mario Elie will work select games in the booth as well.
- Jim Paschke, 70, the Milwaukee Bucks’ television voice since 1986, announced his retirement following the championship season. His successor will be multi-sport broadcaster Lisa Byington.
- The Bucks’ radio team will be entirely different as well. The 24-year play-by-play man Ted Davis, 65, called it a career after the team won the NBA title. Dave Koehn moves north from the University of Virginia to take the reins. Former Wisconsin Badger Ben Brust replaces longtime Milwaukee radio personality Dennis Krause in the color chair.
- Popular Philadelphia 76ers TV announcer Marc Zumoff, 65, retired in June as well. The Sixers brought in Kate Scott, a multi-sport play-by-player based in the San Francisco Bay Area, to succeed Zumoff. Byington and Scott are the first two full-time female play-by-play announcers in NBA history.
- Kevin Calabro returns to the Portland Trail Blazers after a one-year absence when the team changed TV affiliates from the now-defunct NBC Sports Northwest to Seattle-based Root Sports Northwest. Last year, Blazers’ games were called by Jordan Kent, who is now with Pac-12 Network.
- The Sacramento Kings elevate sideline reporter Kayte Christensen-Hunter to the analyst chair on TV as previous color commentator Doug Christie took an assistant coaching job with the club.
- The Utah Jazz made a change, making former Jazzman Thurl Bailey the primary analyst and also giving longtime ESPN sideline reporter Holly Rowe a game analyst position. Bailey had worked games in the past when previous analyst Matt Harpring was unavailable. Bailey and Rowe will rotate games and occasionally work in a three-person booth.
- The Toronto Raptors will bring in former Raptor player and assistant coach Alvin Williams as the color commentator for games broadcast on Sportsnet. Williams, who had previously contributed to studio coverage for the team, replaces Canadian basketball legend Leo Rautins, who will continue to work in the studio for TSN’s half of the package.
- Longtime Indiana basketball personality Bobby “Slick” Leonard died in April at the age of 88. He had been associated with the Indiana Pacers since the team’s second season in the ABA, and had served as an analyst on their radio broadcasts since the 1990s. Former Pacer player Eddie Gill, who in the last few seasons had done color on road game, now moves to that role full-time.
TV: Bob Rathbun, Dominique Wilkins or Vince Carter
Radio: Steve Holman, Mike Conti
TV: Mike Gorman, Brian Scalabrine
Radio: Sean Grande, Cedric Maxwell
TV: Ian Eagle or Ryan Ruocco, Sarah Kustok or Richard Jefferson
Radio: Chris Carrino, Tim Capstraw
TV: Eric Collins, Dell Curry
Radio: Sam Farber, Matt Carroll
TV: Adam Amin or Jason Benetti, Stacey King
Radio: Chuck Swirsky, Bill Wennington
TV: John Michael, Austin Carr or Brad Daugherty
Radio: Tim Alcorn, Jim Chones
TV: Mark Followill, Derek Harper or Jeff “Skin” Wade
Radio: Chuck Cooperstein, Brad Davis
TV: Chris Marlowe, Scott Hastings
Radio: Jason Kosmicki
TV: George Blaha or Johnny Kane, Greg Kelser
Radio: Mark Champion or George Blaha, Rick Mahorn
TV: Bob Fitzgerald, Kelenna Azubuike
Radio: Tim Roye, Tom Tolbert or Jim Barnett
TV: Craig Ackerman, Ryan Hollins or Mario Elie
Radio: Matt Thomas
TV: Chris Denari, Quinn Buckner
Radio: Mark Boyle, Eddie Gill
TV: Brian Sieman, Jim Jackson or Mike Fratello
Radio: Noah Eagle
TV: Bill Macdonald, Stu Lantz
Radio: John Ireland, Mychal Thompson
TV: Pete Pranica, Brevin Knight
Radio: Eric Hasseltine, Elliot Perry or Michael Wallace
TV: Eric Reid, John Crotty
Radio: Jason Jackson, Ruth Riley Hunter
TV: Lisa Byington, Marques Johnson or Steve Novak
Radio: Dave Koehn, Ben Brust
TV: Dave Benz, Jim Petersen
Radio: Alan Horton
TV: Joel Meyers, Antonio Daniels
Radio: Todd Graffagnini, John DeShazier or Daniel Sallerson
TV: Mike Breen or Kenny Albert, Walt Frazier or Wally Szczerbiak
Radio: Ed Cohen, Brendan Brown
TV: Chris Fisher, Michael Cage
Radio: Matt Pinto
Simulcast: David Steele, Jeff Turner
TV: Kate Scott, Alaa Abdelnaby
Radio: Tom McGinnis
TV: Kevin Ray or Tom Leander, Eddie Johnson or Ann Meyers Drysdale
Radio: Al McCoy or Jon Bloom, Tim Kempton
TV: Kevin Calabro, Lamar Hurd
Radio: Travis Demers, Michael Holton
TV: Mark Jones or Kyle Draper, Kayte Christensen-Hunter
Radio: Gary Gerould or Jason Ross
TV: Bill Land or Dan Weiss, Sean Elliott or Matt Bonner
Radio: Bill Schoening
TV: Matt Devlin, Jack Armstrong or Alvin Williams
Radio: Eric Smith, Paul Jones or Paul Jones, Sherman Hamilton
TV: Craig Bolerjack, Thurl Bailey or Holly Rowe
Radio: David Locke, Ron Boone
TV: Justin Kutcher, Drew Gooden
Radio: Dave Johnson or Bryan Albin, Glenn Consor
NBA NETWORK COVERAGE
- Play-by-play: Mike Breen, Mark Jones, Dave Pasch, Ryan Ruocco, Brian Custer, Beth Mowins
- Color: Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson, Hubie Brown, Doris Burke, Richard Jefferson, Vince Carter, JJ Redick
- Play-by-play: Kevin Harlan, Ian Eagle, Brian Anderson, Spero Dedes
- Color: Reggie Miller, Stan Van Gundy, Jim Jackson, Grant Hill, Greg Anthony