The 5 Most Insufferable Announcers and Analysts in the NBA
If you watch a lot of NBA on television like we do, you know the announcers, national and local. Whether it's the studio guys or the ones who sit, observe and describe from courtside, there are plenty who are good and plenty who aren't.
And boy is it difficult to miss the ones who aren't. Hearing them talk can be anywhere from a basic exercise in patience to akin to fingernails on a blackboard. It can be anything too—over exuberance, simple ignorance, the inability to speak in complete sentences, what have you.
Whatever the reason, there are plenty of NBA broadcasters who just don't fit the bill, and some of them are a lot worse than the rest. Let's check em out.
1, Shaquille O'Neal
If anyone would care to explain exactly what it is Shaq brings to the TNT table, please feel free to go right ahead.
This network, winner of multiple Emmy awards for its NBA studio coverage, was just fine with Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley holding down the fort. The occasional guest spot from Chris Webber or Kevin McHale was fine.
But Shaq all the time? A mess.
He's inarticulate. He sounds as though he doesn't follow the NBA or care to (kind of like the last several years of his playing career). And he always looks like there's somewhere else he'd rather be (kind of like last season with the Celtics). Other than that, he's great.
Hopefully, the producers at TNT will realize that they were doing great without bringing in a big name just for the sake of, well, bringing in a big name, and move on next season without Shaq.
Or at least with someone else who has the slightest idea what he's doing.
2. Magic Johnson
Everybody loves Magic, but man, does he suck on TV.
It goes all the way back to his days with NBC during the Michael Jordan era. He knows the game and understands its intricacies—that's not remotely in question. He just can't articulate his thoughts. At all.
Listening to Magic try to explain something hurts one's head. The viewer isn't just trying to understand the particular sequence, play or player Magic is describing, he/she is trying to understand the actual words and in what order they are being used. Calculus was often not as difficult.
Maybe ESPN's producers never bothered to watch any of Magic's previous endeavors as an analyst. Maybe they forgot that his attempt at a late night talk show, "The Magic Hour," made the Jerry Springer Show look like credible, professional journalism.
Or, maybe they have him on set with three more than capable, knowledgeable, well-spoken NBA-heads like Jon Barry, Chris Broussard and Michael Wilbon because, a) he's a huge star and b) those guys know what they're doing and can cover for him.
Whatever the reason, halftime, pre-game and post-game on ESPN are all great times for a bathroom break.
3. Kevin Harlan
Harlan isn't really that bad. But his trademark—absolutely freaking out at anything even closely resembling a nice play regardless of time, score, situation or the weather—can grate a bit.
A couple of weeks ago during what may have been a Utah Jazz/Portland Trail Blazers snoozefest, Harlan woke me up with a scream and multiple exclamations when some bench guy for Portland dunked on another bench guy for Utah despite his team being down 20 with roughly three minutes left on the clock.
"With no regard for human life!!!" Harlan exploded, and I wondered whether he was referring to the dunk, the dunker or himself.
4. Reggie Miller
Miller, who followed in his sister Cheryl's footsteps by getting into broadcasting, should talk to her a bit about how to do it right.
There's not a lot to like about his approach, which is loaded with non-sequiturs, mumbling and the sinking feeling that he didn't do half as much prep work for the night's telecast as he could have.
Worse, Miller broadcasts kind of the same way he played, which is to say with a smug entitlement. You always get the feeling from him that he knows more than you even when he clearly doesn't, which is embarrassing more often than not.
Maybe his broadcast partner, the serene, measured Harlan, can reel him in.
5. Tom Heinsohn
This feels a little blasphemous as a lifelong Bostonian and Celtics fan. But for more than a few years now, Tommy has been losing his fastball.
The Celtics are never playing poorly, it's always the referees' fault. No one on the Celtics has ever committed a foul in his entire career. Every player for the opposing team is a thug, villain, bad guy or bum. And if the Celts don't run or go to the basket on every possession, there'll be hell to pay.
Heinsohn is a legend, as a player, as a coach and as a broadcaster, He was the No. 1 analyst for CBS in the 80's, and although he's always been a major Celtics homer, he not only kept that mostly under wraps when working for the network, he didn't even get too carried away on the local broadcasts, which he's been doing for 30 years, until about the past decade.
He doesn't do all the games in Boston anymore, only traveling to road contests in reasonable proximity to Boston (his replacement when he stays home, Donny Marshall, earns honorable mention for this list). But when he does, boy, do you know he's there.
If you're an official, watch out.