Thursday, June 05, 2008
I was trying to get this post up sooner this week, but tonight before the start of the NBA Finals is probably the perfect time. I'm going to take you through the highlights and lowlights of all eight announcing teams, but a note on the coverage as a whole first. Both ESPN/ABC and TNT did a tremendous job sharing with each other throughout the bulk of the Playoffs this year. The cross promotion even mentioned the other station's announcers and they updated you on the upcoming days games for their rivals as well. This along with a great set of games made for a cleaner viewing experience for fans and ultimately lead to amazing ratings compared to years past.
The announcing was actually really good across the board, and like I've said before, no one ever watches a game because of an announcer, but they'll certainly change the channel because of one. There was really only one team that I didn't enjoy but even they weren't that bad. Let's get into it from worst to first in grading terms.
Dick Stockton and Mike Fratello: D+/C-
I honestly once enjoyed both of this individuals, but for some reason I can't stand either of them anymore. Dick Stockton is just way too out of touch to cover the new NBA game and The Czar is just annoying at this point. Fratello's insistence to argue with Stockton over whether the TNT promos were indeed "very funny" just made for awkward television.
Matt Devlin and Mike Dunleavy: C-
I think I only saw one or two of the games they covered, but Dunleavy just wasn't prepared for the booth. I'm pretty sure he decided to rely on his coaching "expertise" to get by and it didn't work. I don't really have anything against Devlin but he was left out on a limb by his analyst.
Dave Pasch and Rick Carlisle: C+
I think Rick Carlisle is possibly one of the most boring individuals on the Planet, but he worked well with Pasch. Dave Pasch was a great hire for ESPN and while the two don't add much to the broadcast, they don't screw it up.
Mike Breen, Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy: B-
This grade would have been a solid "B" if Jeff Van Gundy would have toned it down even the slightest bit. The whole first two rounds was him and Mark Jackson making fun of each other, and while humorous at times, it gets old quick. The trio did much better in the Eastern Conference though and I think they'll do a fine job for the Finals.
Mike Tirico and Hubie Brown: B-
I started this site because of Hubie Brown, but I've grown to understand and enjoy his broadcasts. Mike Tirico also might be the most vanilla announcer on the Planet but the guy is as solid as they come. The two are also arguably the best teammates out of these eight groupings.
Kevin Harlan and Doug Collins: B-
I despise Doug Collins as an announcer absolutely and completely but for once he was tolerable. I don't know if people told him to stop stepping on his PbPer's feet, and to not mention Michael Jordan every five minutes, but he did an okay job. Kevin Harlan's "No Regard For Human Life!" call on Lebron's dunk was one of the best I've heard.
Dan Shulman and Doris Burke: B
I am absolutely enamored with Dan Shulman and I think he's the best thing that ESPN has in their stable of announcers. The guy is funny, knows the teams he's covering, and interacts with his partners well. That's really all you can ask for. I also think that Doris Burke's work during these Playoffs was actually pretty groundbreaking. I have nothing against women in the booth, but ESPN's attempts have been horrible until now. Her work as a sideline reporter obviously helped her prepare and more sideliners should get a shot.
Marv Albert and Reggie Miller: B+
It almost pains me to write this, but Reggie Miller is growing on me. He still stumbles over his words and is a bit of an over actor, but he works with Marv. Albert was at the top of his game this year and I don't ever see me not wanting to hear him call a game. I still miss Steve Kerr with Marvelous, but not as much.
So there you have them. It was a great Playoff Season for both TNT and ESPN/ABC and the teams they gave us all worked pretty well. Let me know what you think and you're welcome as always to disagree in the comments.