Friday, April 17, 2009

NBA Broadcasting Greats

Over the next eight weeks, NBA fans are going to get bombarded with endless of hours triple headers and doubleheaders on ABC, ESPN and TNT. Back in the 1970's, the NBA Finals were broadcast on tape delay before the presence of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird changed that in the 1980's.
But I have a question for all of you long time NBA fans? During CBS first year of broadcasting pro hoops in 1974, do you remember the announcers?
The answer to this question is Pat Summerall, Rick Barry and current Utah Jazz Announcer Hot Rod Hundley. The Boston Celtics defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 4-3 as this series featured Hall of Famers John Havlicek, Dave Cowens, Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
While there have been many great match-ups over the years in the finals, it might be hard to find a foursome of players better than this. In 1996, Barry was named to the NBA 50Th Anniversary All-Time Team.
How many fans remember Barry as a player? For that matter, how many remember him as an announcer? In 2004, Hundley was inducted into the Utah Broadcast Hall of Fame and the performances of John Stockton and Karl Malone made his job easier with the Jazz success on the basketball court. The wild card here is Summerall, whom all fans know as the voice behind the microphone covering the NFL, Tennis and Golf.
Here is a list of whom I consider the best announcers in the NBA through the years.
The best Play-By-Play include:
1. Dick Stockton (CBS)
2. Brent Musberger (CBS)
3. Johnny Most (Boston Celtics)
4. Marv Albert (NBC & TNT Sports)
5. Gary Bender (CBS)
6. Jim Durham (ESPN, TNT & TBS)
7. Mike Breen (NBC, ABC & ESPN)
8. Chick Hearn (LA Lakers)
9. Bob Costas (NBC)
10. Al Michaels (ABC)
The best Color Commentators through the years include:
1. Hubie Brown (CBS, ABC and ESPN)
2. Doug Collins (NBC, TNT)
3. Mike Fratello (NBC, TNT)
4. Hot Rod Hundley (CBS)
5. Rick Barry (CBS)
6. Keith Erickson (CBS)
7. Billy Cunningham (CBS)
8. Dr. Jack Ramsey (ESPN)
9. Johnny "Red" Kerr (Chicago Bulls)
10. Matt Guokas Jr. (NBC)
As the NBA continues to grow over the years, it will be interesting to see how many people I'll add to this list in the future.
My early reviews on Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy are good. Jackson's knowledge of the game tends to make me think that he'll be a good coaching prospect in the future. Meanwhile, Van Gundy, who has been known to take criticism from NBA Commissioner David Stern about his comments from time to time about the officiating, should stay in the media. He is colorful and is really entertaining.
Watching tape of his on the court incidents with players being in the middle of fights are worth laughing at. He's a little man with little hair and a lot of spunk. The best body guard from Stern is Breen, who is a seasoned pro and when I met him in Miami covering the Detroit Pistons versus Heat in the playoffs, he's a class individual.
One other old school worth color analyst worth mentioning was Kevin Loughery, who made CBS telecasts educational.
Scott Morganroth can be reached at

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