Last year, I had the privilege of having a sit-down interview with Tony "The Coach" Fiorentino, who is one of the Miami Heat's color commentators. We discussed his past, his roots as a color commentator and basketball coach, and his time with the Miami Heat.
Here is our interview:
Allen: How did you get your start in journalism/color commentating?
Tony Fiorentino: “I was a high school teacher. I was also a basketball coach in New York. I began color commentating in high school in 1984. I knew since high school that I wanted to be a commentator.”
A: What college did you attend?
TF: “I graduated from Dowling College in New York where I got my BA. I then got my masters at the University of Bridgeport.”
A: How has it been to work with Eric Reid for so long?
TF: “We consider each other as best friends. We have worked together for 20 years, since the inception of the team.”
A: How much preparation goes into commentating before each game?
TF: “Four to five hours of preparation before each game. Eric and I consider ourselves the most prepared duo in the NBA.”
A: How do you feel about the Heat's horrific 15-67 season?
TF: “I’m not surprised by it. There were a lot of injuries. Wade got hurt then Shaq (Shaquille O’Neal) got traded, so I am not surprised."
A: When the Heat make a personnel decision that you don't agree with, how does that affect your commentating?
TF: "I agree with the Heat’s personnel decisions because its company policy and I trust the decisions they make."
A: What has it been like commentating for the Miami Heat for the last several years?
TF: "I always wanted to commentate. But its been special doing it with Eric because were the only duo that’s been with the team for all 20 years."
A: How has the Miami Heat organization changed since you've been in it?
TF: "It’s a lot bigger. In the beginning, there were only 30 employees and now there’s hundreds."
A: How has it stayed the same?
TF: "The Heat still helps out in the community. There has always been that commitment to the community."
A: How was it being the assistant coach of the Heat in their inaugural year?
TF: "I was two years removed from high school. I didn’t know what to expect. It was mindboggling."
A: How has being the assistant coach of the Heat influenced your color commentary?
TF: "Being a coach, I see things off the ball while the fans see on the ball. I don’t just see a play, I see how it materializes. I see the screen or the back door cut that leads to scoring."
A: How do you feel about Pat Riley stepping down as head coach?
TF: "I trust his judgment. He will do what is best for the team."
A: Who is your favorite Miami Heat player?
TF: "There are a lot: Keith Askins, Glen Rice, Dwyane Wade, Bimbo Coles, Grant Long, and Rony Seikely."
A: How did you feel about the Shaq trade?
TF: "It was in the best interest of the team."
A: What is your favorite and least favorite moment in Heat history?
TF: "My favorite moment was beating Detroit in 2006 East Finals and then beating Dallas in the championship. My least favorite moment was when Allan Houston hit a last second shot to beat us in the playoffs."
A: How do you feel about the direction of the NBA as a whole today?
TF: "It’s a solid, popular league. They have a multi-billion TV package."