Air Check: Get Smart

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — For NBA fans like us, there’s nothing better than League Pass. Having the ability to watch every game every night (and then again the next day) is heaven.

aircheck-250Of course, with local broadcasts, you get local broadcasters, which can be good and bad. It can be good, because these guys know their teams better than most national broadcasters. It can be bad, because these guys love their teams more than most national broadcasters. And they’re usually not afraid to show that love.

The national guys aren’t perfect either. And if they’re not careful, they may be featured here, where we highlight the best and worst of NBA broadcasts.

Here are a few more moments that made us laugh, made us smarter, or made us shake our heads.


1. A ticky-tack mugging

Game: Philadelphia @ Orlando, March 10
Broadcast: Orlando

The Magic have one of the best (and smartest) broadcasting crews in the league, and it’s tough to pick on Richie Adubato here, because he’s just filling in for the excellent Matt Guokas. But calling this foul, where Thaddeus Young gets shoved out of bounds by Al Harrington, a “ticky-tack” call is kind of hilarious. In fact, Adubato actually suggests that the call “should have been our way.”

2. Timing is everything

Game: Memphis @ L.A. Clippers, March 13
Broadcast: Clippers

Sometimes, it all falls into place.

First referencing the Grizzlies’ lack of shooting, Michael Smith explains how Quincy Pondexter gives them one guy who can knock down threes, and how Pondexter likes to spot up in the corner. Pondexter immediately proceeds to spot up in the corner and knock down a three.

As Ralph Lawler said, “Good call, Michael.”

3. But he didn’t MEAN to do it!

Game: Minnesota @ Memphis, March 18
Broadcast: Memphis

Brevin Knight is a Jersey guy and I’ve been a fan since I saw him put the clamps on a scorer named Mark Bass (who went on to star at St. Joseph’s) as a sophomore in the 1991 state tournament. So it’s hard for me to call him out. But there’s no analyst around the league that uses the word “we” when talking about his team more than Knight, unless it’s back-up, Sean Tuohy.

Here, Knight somehow feels that Tayshaun Prince shouldn’t be called for a foul because he didn’t intend to make contact with Andrei Kirilenko. Play-by-play guy Pete Pranica says he didn’t see the contact at all.

A foul is a foul, intentional or not. It’s clear that both Prince and Kirilenko felt the contact, and Prince didn’t have any beef with the call.

4. Professor Petersen strikes again

Game: New Orleans @ Minnesota, March 17
Broadcast: Minnesota

Three weeks ago, we praised Wolves broadcasters Dave Benz and Jim Petersen for their acknowledgement of advanced statistics. But the best part of a Minnesota broadcast is when Petersen has the time to delve into the Xs and Os behind a particular play.

Here, he explains how the Wolves’ initial actions on the preceding play were designed to get the defense moving and set up a Ricky Rubio – Nikola Pekovic pick-and-roll.

That’s great use of a timeout. Petersen may be the best teacher among NBA analysts, unafraid to bring coaching jargon to the broadcast in an effort to make his audience a little smarter.



    Nice Article Mr. John…
    in my opinion if there is any Foreign Players,
    hope their words will be recorded and translated (the meaning)
    its hard to identify what there saying about inside the Court,
    Europe players and others around the world…

    We Love NBA in the Philippines,

  2. Bruce says:

    ‘ticky-tack’ call talk is really hilarious!

  3. dattebayo says:

    Last Friday, the Timberwolves played the Rockets in Houston and Matt Bullard and Bill Worrell were just the worst commentators ever. Here are a few lines from the 1st quarter:

    Motiejunas airballs a three and is late getting back on D, he slides in front of Williams and the refs call a charge (horrible call). Worrell goes: ‘He threw up an airball and now he is late getting back… [whistle] …Oh, and he drew a charge’, obviously surprised about that horrible call. Drexler just laughs and says: ‘Adelman can’t believe it’.

    Asik sets a screen, feels Ridnour on his back and just backs up a step and sticks his butt out, the referees call a moving screen (good call). Bullard says during a slow motion replay, that clearly shows Asik moving: ‘How is that an offensive foul, he is just standing there?’.

    James Harden pushes the ball in transition and runs into Rubio, the refs call a block. After the inbound, Lin comes around a pick, lowers his shoulder and runs straight into Rubio (much more contact than on the play before), who loses his balance and falls down. Instantly the entire broadcast calls out Rubio for a flop, congratulates the referees for the nocall and agrees with each other that the referees should always call it that way. The perfect irony was the conversation between Bullard and Worrell seconds later. ‘It’s a no flop league, right?’, ‘Yeah, that’s what they say, but I always see some now and then’. No wonder with Harden and Asik on your team…

    The cherry on top was Hardens step back three at the end of the first. He kicked his leg out and tripped Shved, which the refs didn’t notice. In previous games, Shved had several threes taken away from him, because he kicked his legs out and tripped a defender…

  4. El Bee says:

    This is one of my new favorite things, I’ve always wished someone would could knock these guys off their soapboxes. pleeeease keep them coming Schu!!!