Wednesday, March 07, 2007
AA has made yet another new friend in this blogging world. This friend runs a lovely new(er) site called Price Above Bip Roberts (great name). Well Ted (the gent) has taken to writing up an announcing preview for the Pac-10 Tourney, which will be aired on Fox Sports West. He takes ex-UCLA Bruin Marques Johnson to task, and there's nothing AA likes more than that.
Enjoy his thoughts after the jump. Also, I'm going to be putting together some previews leading up to the giant live-blog on Thursday and Friday. Since I don't have the pull for 65 Teams like Deadspin.....my goal is for 16 people. Each person will take care of a set of seeds (i.e.- one person will have all the 1's, another will have all the 2s, etc.). I'm probably just going to pull the names out of a hat, so just let me know if you are interested not which seed you want. We need sixteen folks, so help me out if you can.
The live-blog tonight is the Big Sky Championship (61%-39%). The teams are Northern Arizona-Weber State and I start at 9pm. Don't forget Marco from Just Call Me Juice is up at 7pm with the NEC Championship game (Sacred Heart v. Central Conn). Click "read more" for the Pac-10 Announcing pre/re-view.
With apologies to Mr. Klosterman, I think it's rather common knowledge that most people who were good as professional athletes (or at least passable) aren't really that good as analysts.
This makes sense, because in reality, it's mildly preposterous to suddenly think of Clark Kellogg as "a journalist" after previously viewing him as "a banger," when there are people all over our fine nation attending school and slaving away at copy desk jobs in central Iowa in pursuit of the former.
(And the example most use of the "good player-good announcer" combo is Aikman, but let's be honest: when Aikman voiced over the opening sequence for the NFC Championship Game this year, which involved him walking out of the shadows on a high school football field while casually tossing a pigskin in the air and saying things like, "For some, the dream continues," I lost almost every iota of respect for him).
Someone who was a good player, then became a terrible - if "comical" can be used as a synonym for "terrible," which I think, in this case, it can - announcer is Marques Johnson. Johnson was a Bruin when it was great to be a Bruin: when John Wooden still had control of his faculties (I'm just saying...), when Walton and Alcindor were fresh in people's minds (and not, per se, Harrick), when Pauley Pavilion hadn't been tainted by the likes of Dan Gadzuric, etc. (Ed. Note: I love UCLA this year. I think they might win it all, honestly. But let's not beat around the bush - the program fell into disarray for a brief period, no?).
Johnson was the 1977 Player of the Year, after Scott May and the '76 Indiana run. He was even a good pro - he helped the Bucks win five division titles, even if they could never really get into the Eastern elite. He made the Clippers relevant for a few nanoseconds, which is something far superior men couldn't do. His Wikipedia page even lists him as "one of the best small forwards in the NBA in the 1970s," a comment that probably should be flagged like a book Costanza took into the bathroom, but for some reason isn't. Regardless, I suppose a case can be made.
That was Johnson as a player... and then, there's Johnson as an announcer. A few weeks ago, on the opening of the UCLA vs. Stanford game on Fox Sports West, he stood to the right of a cheerful play-by-play guy (his name escapes me, but it was odd). When voicing over some video of Afflalo from previous games, he screamed (it was more a combination of a "screech" and a "yelp," to be fair), "Afflalo is da man!" He also referred to Lorenzo Mata as "da man!" in a slightly more masculine tone of voice. Before they took the first commercial break, he started elbowing his jovial broadcast partner in the back. I think it was the extension of some inside joke, but the play by play guy seemed confused, disoriented, even potentially terrified. I think most of the audience was.
Johnson yells "YAKKA!" on big plays, which in the cultural pantheon of announcing, is probably somewhere north of Dick Engberg's vaunted "Oh My!" (something that has tired with age, but always must be respected) and south of "ONIONS!" (something that has no link to concepts of respect, but deserves a high ranking on absurdity alone). I'm not sure I could directly compare Verne Lundquist with Marques Johnson, but I'm fairly certain Lundquist probably called half of Johnson's college games.
When Johnson is deployed as a sideline reporter for Fox Sports West, he seems clueless oftentimes, as if he is unfamiliar with what his role should be in that capacity. I can almost envision conversations between him and the truck: "Marques, we're coming to you out of this break. Do you have any news from the Washington State bench?" "Oh yea, baby. I got some good shite from them. Yea, put that red light on me." And then, returning from break, he stands there smiling like a cross between Penny Hardaway and Goofy, says nothing you couldn't know by watching the game in your living room, and tosses it back to the announcers, perhaps punctuating his "report" with an inside joke no one really understands.
I love the Pac-10 just like anyone; when I was younger, I used to stay up and watch the football contests (I remember an Arizona State vs. Washington game that, I swear, was 45-42 at the half) and savor the chance to see the basketball on national TV (that's why I first fell in love with CBS).So, I'll watch their Tournament - I'd like to see Washington bounce back, and Oregon find life, and UCLA dominate, and those two really tall guys on Stanford do something insane, like knee someone in the crotch - but I'll cringe when I see Marques. I'll laugh, awkwardly, at his references, jokes, and broad, goofy smile, but I'll cringe for him: how can you go from being so great to so weird, so fast?
(Ed. Note: Johnson went to Crenshaw High in LA, and Washington coach Lorenzo Romar grew up in Compton. If Washington advances far, and Johnson has to do a sideline interview with Romar post-game, how funny would it be if Johnson opened by saying something like, "Yo dogg, we've seen some fucked-up shit where we from, right?")
Price Above Bip Roberts
Life After Halftime (Esquire: Chuck Klosterman)