Air Check: Houston Edition

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.

The Spurs-Rockets contest on Sunday was a great game, especially if you had your TV on mute. The game went down to the wire, with James Harden hitting the off-balance game-winner with five seconds left.

Unfortunately, the Rockets’ crew of Bill Worrell, Matt Bullard and Clyde Drexler made the broadcast a difficult listen, with several shake-your-head comments over the course of the night. So, we’re dedicating an entire edition of Air Check to this one game.

1. Off to a great start


Drexler sets the tone for the broadcast by complaining about the jump ball. The jump ball! And if you watch the jump ball, the only issue with it is that both Omer Asik and Tim Duncan jump too early.

Not to be outdone, Worrell joins Drexler in the jump ball critique (so does Bullard), and then calls for a travel 12 seconds into the Spurs’ first possession. Yep, this is how this broadcast is going to go.

2. Isn’t this Daryl Morey’s team?


Just a few minutes later, we get the dreaded team points-per-game graphic. The Rockets, of course, lead the league in that mostly meaningless stat.

Team points per game lacks a lot of context, specifically how the Rockets play at the league’s fastest pace. They do rank fifth in offensive efficiency, but they also rank 19th in defensive efficiency. So Drexler’s statement that “If you can score, you can do well in this league, especially in the playoffs” is also lacking some context.

Over the next few possessions, Worrell goes on to say that the Spurs used to rely on defense, and that Gregg Popovich decided a few years ago to “rely more on offense.”

Now, I didn’t expect Worrell to have read what I wrote just two days earlier. But it would be nice if broadcasters were aware of where the teams that are playing rank offensively and defensively. At the time of this game, the Spurs ranked third in defensive efficiency.

Led by general manager Daryl Morey, the Houston Rockets are the team most invested in analytics. And it would be great if that was apparent when you watched their games. But unfortunately, the broadcast is well behind the curve.

3. The push in the back that nobody saw


When you first see this play, it’s unclear where the foul is. But both replays clearly show Asik push Duncan in the back.

Worrell: “I didn’t think there was a Rocket near enough to him to foul him!”

Replay 1.

Worrell: “Who fouled him?”

Replay 2, where the push in the back is pretty obvious.

Bullard: “There was no contact AT ALL!”

Drexler: “Asik might have pushed him in the back a little bit.”

Worrell: “The baseline official made the call, so he couldn’t have seen anything.”

Drexler: “Exactly.”

Worrell: “He doesn’t have x-ray vision.”

It’s hard to fathom that you’d prefer listening to Sean Elliott call a game on any given night, but this became the case on Sunday.

4. It was clear to us … but we have a bad angle


In the final minute, a rebound goes off of either Asik or Duncan, and the referees initially call a jump ball, which is pretty rare.

Worrell: “They have to look at it, because that was tipped out by San Antonio. That’s all there was to it.”

Drexler: “Duncan knocked it right out.”

Worrell: “Duncan knocked that ball out of bounds, folks.”

Then we see the replay.

Bullard: “Ooh. I don’t know. Omer’s hand looked like it was on the inside.” And later, “Maybe that is a jump ball. Maybe both guys hit it at the same time.”

Worrell, of course, gets in one more shot at the referee’s ability to toss up a fair jump ball, but they all basically agree that it’s a tough call. And the refs confirm the original call and do continue play with a jump ball.

Bullard: “I think to call that a jump ball in real time is a pretty impressive call.”

Drexler: “They got it right.”

Well, that’s good. But hilariously, Drexler ends the discussion by saying, “Of course, we couldn’t see it, because it was away from us.”

OK… Then why, exactly, were you insisting that the ball was off of Duncan just a minute ago?

Good grief.

***

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. Send him an e-mail or follow him on twitter.

89 Comments

  1. Willis says:

    Absolutely TERRIBE article Schuhmann. Complete garbage – there is not anything here, you are just making stuff up as yo go – and like I said I cant believe I wasted a few minutes of my life trying to entertain you stupidity. The announcing was just fine and I certainly am not a Rockets fan (or Texas fan for that matter) go NUGGETS! Really, very poor job here.

  2. tony says:

    The guy that created this page seems like a hater to me.

  3. CH says:

    This article is pointless… Why did this guy even wrote it?

  4. Chris says:

    I actually find these guys one of the funniest in the nba, this article sounded more bias than them…

  5. KP says:

    Air Check: John Schuhmann Edition

  6. KOBE says:

    John Schcumbag, THIS IS BY FAR one of the most horrible wasting POS article I have ever heard in ALL sports. I cannot believe you are getting paid for trash.

  7. Bill Stephens says:

    I watched this game…with sound, and I didn’t notice a thing wrong with the broadcast. Didn’t even disrupt my game-watching experience. People would maybe care most for commentary if it was a playoff or particularly key game. This to me was just a game.

    Slow day in the editorial room for sure. This seems further than far-fetched.

  8. Willy says:

    Mo, Ya ok then don’t hire ex jocks! They are former players who have complained to refs the last 30plus years of their lives, so what else would they do when they get a mic in front of their face?

    JS go back to your stats articles, much better.

  9. James says:

    Local broadcasters are part of the fan base. Their job is to entertain the local viewers.. The fans know these facts except this puritan.

  10. Habitusforknicks says:

    I watched the game, and I was a little irritated by some of the comments, for example two of them were convinced that there was a travel that Decolo committed, which looked perfectly clean in replays, although it was an awkward alley oop attempt, there was no violation. Overall it felt like Drexler was mostly participating unwillingly to off comments by the others, almost like he was giving in to the peer pressure. Overall, commentators were a little irritating at most but that’s about it, and I watch Rockets home games once in a while I would say they are entertaining commentators, and especially Drexler is very good. IMO this article with its disproportional reaction is more annoying than Houston commentators. Obviously my man Frazier is by far the best.

    • Habitusforknicks says:

      Also I forgot, Drexler’s comment about the offense is harmless. Yeah per possession is a better stat, but his comment is “if you can score, you can do well in this league”. That comment does not deserve this kind of reaction. If you score, the odds of you doing increases, it is a truism but it emphasizes half of the obvious rule of the game: if your point differential is better, you will do better in this league that is if you score more than you give up you win :) Also first jump ball was not only crooked but also both players jumped early, so it was a funny comment. Seriously dude, focus on something more useful.

  11. Wow says:

    With amazing articles like this one I can’t believe Clyde Worrell and Bull missed the article you had written 2 days earlier. Ofcourse mot people probably missed the article you wrote 2 days earlier due to the fact that the only reason this one has as many views as it does is because you annoyed a bunch of Rockets fans.

  12. Oakley34BLAM says:

    Wow…just read through the comments…surprised to see so many Rockets fans unable to deal with a little criticism of their gamecall team. They are as bad as any commentators out there. I watch games every night, different teams…and I cringe when the Rockets have a good matchup at home because I know I’ll be subjected to their commentary that is among the worst in the league. No, their job isn’t easy…but that really isn’t a great excuse. Watch some Raptors games, some Knicks games, some Warriors games, some Nets games…if you want to see great commentators that can speak intelligently about players on both teams and the game, night in night out, and not just be some partisan cheer squad describing every call as a grave injustice to stalwart heroes of the home team.

    • 34yr fan says:

      …..You actually watch Raptors games…….. just for the pure fun of it, or are you watching because YOUR team is playing them? OR maybe you don’t have a HOMETOWN team and are writing a paper on the NBA or something…..let us know !!…..Boy, what a an NBA watchin’ stalwart >>>>>> KUDOS !!

  13. Slow day? says:

    You start the article by acknowledging that local broadcasters may be a bit biased then show a series of clips complaining of how biased they are? No fan wants to tune into a local station and watch neutral commentary. They want the commentators to say what they’re thinking. At least these guys give credit and correct themselves when replay shows they might’ve been wrong.

    P.S. Clip #3 was not a foul. There’s a difference between laying your hand on someone and pushing them

    • 34yr fan says:

      @Slow Day? on the PS: part…..Not if you are bronbron!!! Or some of the other darlings(you know, like Kobster and KD) of the league/networks(hard to tell the difference) that are GIVEN call after call after call after call after call after…etc !!….. and BTW …. as many times that I have seen that NOT called…. it is nice to see it called Sometimes for the Spurs(and Rockets as well) ……PuLeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze !!

  14. Oakley34BLAM says:

    I continue to love this feature. What would be hilarious, in my opinion, would be to have Sean Elliot and Clyde Drexler forced to call a Rockets-Spurs game (or series!) TOGETHER. Loved them both as players, but man…they are the WORST.

    • 34yr fan says:

      ….The ONLY way you can truthfully say “They are the worst” is if you listened to all of the other announcers for a few months or at least weeks……and WHO could possibly do that, I ask?????

  15. Douglas says:

    This should be your last article, sir.. quit hating
    I see no problems with their commentating..CLYDE THE GLIDE

  16. Charles Barkley says:

    First of all let me tell you something… This is a turrrrible article. And first of all Clyde the glide drexler is a legend he can say whatever he wants. First of all anyone on my dream team can say what they like. Let me tell you something. Any former NBA baller can say what they want. Just a turrrrible article. come on Schumann you can do better than this. Turrrrible.

    • 34yr fan says:

      ….1st of all…..you are correct, any great former player can SAY whatever they want of course….but that doesn’t make it correct…. all of the time!!….. and CB Thanks…..for telling me something…. I needed that ……LOL great post !!

  17. Sheldon says:

    Horrible article. I agree that the jump ball wasn’t as bad as it appeared, but that was definitely traveling in the first 12 sec of the game- it’s still traveling. And Worell’s point that the Spurs are more offensive minded than they used to be, obviously went right over your head.

  18. chubbena says:

    as long as they keep talking they are doing just fine

  19. Kal says:

    For NBA fans like us, there’s nothing better than NBA.com. Having the ability to read articles about the league every night (then again the next day) is heaven.

    Of course, with a 24/7 news cycle, you get a wide variety of articles, which can be good and bad. It can be good, because sometimes the writer will reveal something very few are aware of. It can be bad, because these guys are so pressed to come up with posts that sometimes their post is just plain nonsense making something out of nothing. And they’re usually completely shameless about it because they’re conceited enough to believe anything they write.

    Nobody is perfect. But if they’re not careful, readers will call them out here in the comments section, where we highlight the best and worst of NBA.com commentary.

    Here are my responses to John Schuhmann’s 4 interpretations of the commentary up above, calls that made me cringe, made me more honest, or made me (and many other readers here it seems) shake our heads.

    1) That was a horrible jump ball. Parker did travel. Good commentary from the get go.

    2) Hey, they’re trying to give their fans some hope. Give em a break. (And they did in the end win the game and hang with the big boys…)

    3) That was a pathetic call. The Big Fundamental treated like a baby. Asik barely touched him. The only worse call in the last week was the Griffin “push off” on Nowitzki that gave Dallas the game when it should have been the best highlight of the year.

    4) Yeah, this one was whack home court bias. Asik clearly hit it out. They clearly wanted the home team to get the ball.

    So, in my check of John Schuhmann’s “Aircheck”, I’ll give him a solid 1/4… or, if I wanna be generous, 1.5/4 (I’ll call a jump ball on #2 and split the score in half) but that’s still shooting a dismal 37% from his armchair.

    Ps. I’m not a Rockets fan… just an NBA fan calling it like I see it.

    • 34yr fan says:

      ……once again….it the the phantom travel the was called on De Colo….NOT Tony

    • 34yr fan says:

      So Kal….You can make a layup if someone pushes you in the back ??….doesn’t Have to hard and ‘obvioius’….just a small push…… I personally think it is just human nature to use your hands in that manner(push) if you are playing basketball…..real hard to keep your hands at your sides!?!?…. hard to control in the brain!!

  20. Bearcat says:

    I have been a Houston Rocket’s fan for many years, Bill and Bull are the worse in the business. They are so far from original, they want to nickname the Houston player’s so bad they take the nicknames of other player’s in the league. If I hear Bull say the the word Embelish” one more time I will throw up.. It’s time for Bill to retire, he makes so many wrong calls durung the game. For the most part Clyde is on point. I am glad I am not the only one that recognizes the bad game announceing of this duo.

  21. hawks fan says:

    yea i hate watching houston games because of that reason…. but then again its not like the national broadcasters are any better… whenever miami plays they continously blow lebron and before that it was kobe

    • 34yr fan says:

      ….National broadcasters are ALWAYS muted during the game in my living room !! (Have been for several decades now)…. I really Love listening to the RADIO broadcast ……where the announcer doesn’t have the time (because he is describing the game to people who in most/many cases can’t SEE the game) to talk about ALL of the calls and smaller points of Any game in the NBA ……PS: Plus, with DVRs now it is fun to get the radio broadcast synchronized with the Live TV broadcast video !! Something I could not do in years/decades past .

  22. Black and Silver says:

    Sean Elliot is the Michael Jordan of color commentators.

    Get so fired, hack.

  23. mrdeomed says:

    Even looking at him ,makes me a phobe.

  24. mrdeomed says:

    What this guy wants is censorship of the truth.That is apparent.Not unlike our government.

  25. Kyle says:

    Ok really? THIS is what you come up with? This is the NBA. We want to see blogs about players and coaches and stats. Nobody wants to see criticism about team commentators. I find it pretty pathetic that you took time out of your day to talk about something so petty and litle. I’m a houston native and rockets fan and I watch every game and I love the commentators. Find something better to write about next time.

  26. jackebit says:

    “But both replays clearly show Asik push Duncan in the back.”

    Are we watching the same thing here? How is that even a push? What is clear here is that you are pushing hard to find bad examples of commentaries but you are failing miserably, sir!

  27. kingocta says:

    So what, are you a San Antonio fan?

    I just watched # 4, and the announcers were spot on. From there angle, it looked like Duncan knocked it out. As soon as they saw the replay they said ‘a jump ball would be good’. And at the end, the announcer says they couldn’t see it – he meant Asik touching the ball, as from there angle all they can see is Duncan’s arm.

    You want to see bias? Watch a Nuggets game. Hastings makes me laugh sometimes, and then I hit the mute button to shut him up.

  28. DON says:

    I LIVE IN HOUSTON BUT I FROM SAN ANTONIO AND THE SPURS ARE MY TEAM. I WAS WATCHING THE GAME I THINK THAT THOSE THREE ARE HORRIBLE. I WOULD RATHER WATCH THE GAME WHEN IT IS A NEUTRAL GAME COMMENTATORS. I LIKE BASKETBALL AND FACTS NOT THESE PEOPLE OPINIONS. BY THE WAY I ALSO A GRADUTE OF U OF H BUT I CANT STAND CLYDE

  29. Alan says:

    wow… worst article i have read on NBA.com this year … could be all-time..

  30. PB says:

    Come on John… you’re not a Bleacher Report writer; you’re an NBA Hangtime blogger. Normally you’re good; this wasn’t your best.

  31. JJorge says:

    yes. When i watch the Rockets at court home…its always on mute… too!

  32. ericB says:

    These dudes are dumb

  33. Mikey B says:

    Not everyone is a Diehard fan of the NBA, or a team in the NBA. Some people are just casual fans, so commentators tend to “dumb it down” sometimes. The point about being able to score a lot of points, is a consistant point about the Rockets this Season, they can score, and they can pile on those points in a hurry. Houston has erased many 10+ point leads by their opposition in the blink of an eye. Yes, I agree, that sometimes Bull, Glyde and Bill can be a bit on the homer side, but I have watched many other broadcasts from other commentators that aren’t much better. Plus, Rockets games aren’t televised a hell of a lot nationally, (That honor seems to be reserved for Miami, OKC, NY, BKN, Chicago Lakers and Boston!) so deal with having homer like commentators. Or watch the game on mute if you don’t like it!!!

    • 34yr fan says:

      …..national TV has always been for the LaBostons for YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEars…… Really tired of it….. Why don’t the just name the “Network” broadcast channels appropriately…….Like the ‘Lakers’ channel and the ‘Celtics’ channel and the ‘Heat’ channel and the ……sorry , got carried away ….LOL ….ANd since DRose got to ChiTown….. they are Back in the mix…..

  34. LeFeo says:

    Commentators comment. If you don’t like it, hit the mute button and have at it. Some reporters…?

  35. mart says:

    so what, get a life dude

  36. Ali says:

    This article is garbage. Sure, Houston’s commentators (Clyde, Bill and Bullard) are biased towards their team, but which local broadcast team isn’t? You were getting pretty nitpicky there, bro. Try to find a topic that’s worth writing about such as the Miami Heat win streak or possible playoff matchups/upsets. Loser.

  37. Jack says:

    Have to disagree with number 1. Both broadcaster are simply right. It was an awful jump ball (get IN BETWEEN the players and actually throw the ball to do decent height, please!). Also, Parker did shuffle his feet. In the theorw books, it’s a travel.

  38. Luis says:

    Writer, please get a job where you actually do something, lets say effective. The guys are fun to listen to, not everything should be taken so serious, its obvious that a lot of the stuff is ironic.

  39. Rick says:

    Considering anyone else in the league gets fined and reprimanded for questioning calls, or even stating a contrary opinion, I’m glad most commentators are opinionated, and at times, even “homers”. It is just entertainment after all, and they get paid to entertain. Silly rabbit.

  40. TDEV says:

    This is the whiniest article I’ve ever wasted time reading. I can’t believe you got paid to produce this nonsense. I’m literally angered by you.

  41. Jerry says:

    Lot of Houston fans crying in this comment section. It was clearly a foul by Asik, you can’t push a guy in the back while he’s in the air. How man times have you seen Duncan miss a wide-open layup?

  42. Denzo says:

    Just a terrible article. Really.

  43. Brad says:

    Wow! This guy writes an article trashing people … And then he gets trashed.

    I love it! … Karma is a B%#*h

  44. Winston says:

    The commentary from those clips were in better quality than this so called rant.

  45. DWarner says:

    Homers are hilarious!

    Drexler and Elliott are well on their way to joining Tommy Heinsohn for the Celts as the biggest homers ever!

    Get ‘em off the mic already!

  46. Jesus says:

    This post is simply, I envy your job post. Better start writing of something more important than this commentator hate.

  47. Mo says:

    No Willy, I think what he wants is for commentators to not comment on the game as though they were wearing dunce caps on their heads.

  48. rock says:

    I agree the Houston aren’t very good, but you’re writing is even worse. You can find these same examples in every game with every team.

  49. Pooyy Mang says:

    I hope you get fired

  50. Basketballfan409 says:

    wow… you seriously irratated me when i read this article.. obviously you must be a spurs fan.. why dont you take the time to watch and listen to every teams broadcast.. these guys def arent bad. you need to just go ahead and quit your job

    • 34yr fan says:

      ….no he is not a spurs fan, but he is just grasping……Not much more to say about the ‘Rose” comeback, the Lakers or the “streak”……So just waste some time/space on something as unimportant as what the home team’s announcers say about the (usually poor officiating…………. boy how hard can it be JS???? Besides, how long do you think a local announcer would keep his job if he sides all of the time with the opposition on close/bad calls? Hey its not near as bad as in some fan’s living room—-me included. LOL

  51. Lmao says:

    They were bias the entire game i don’t mind it a small doses they are Houston commentators but they were terrible in that game

  52. AgentZero says:

    I’m guessing John Schuhmann can’t think of a good article to post these days so he has to come up with those half-baked ones.

    Nitpicking at its best.

  53. David says:

    Well… local broadcasters love their teams, but national broadcasterslove also shows their preferences in the games, they aren’t good hidding that so… pretty much the same.

  54. Tom says:

    Wow, what a whiny article this is. If this is bad broadcasting, I wouldn’t know what isn’t.

  55. darko says:

    Those guys are partisan but mostly fair and usually entertaining- they don’t take themselves too seriously.

  56. JP says:

    This was one of the worst troll jobs by a writer that I have ever seen by calling out another member/staff of the media. Being a Rockets fan, there are obvious times when we know that Bill, Bull and Clyde overexaggerate, and act as homers. But they are the Houston Rockets broadcasting team Not Golden State. Not NBA.com, Not ESPN. But why dont you tell us, what they are supposed to do instead??? Objectively call the game while being paid by Houston Rockets broadcasting? I have watched these broadcaster do their jobs for a long time. Especially Bill. They are some of the Best in the business…And every one of the plays you decided to highlight are plays in which the hometown announcers are going to side with the team they work for. I would love to rip each one of your so called points you have written, but its hard to trash trash.

  57. sargeh says:

    I had never read your blog before and I lost five minutes of my life by stopping by! You did precisely what you rant about in the article.

  58. W/E says:

    The Houston commentators are GREAT.

  59. Labrador Retriever says:

    Are you serious? There are worse announcers out there. Everyone gets offended by homers way to easily. What do you expect?

    You seriously spent all that time writing an article on this? Wow.

  60. sglcarlos says:

    I can’t believe this guy is getting paid to comment/write on such minuscule mistakes by irrelevant people. IMO this kind of posts should come from fans.

  61. Joey Joe Joe says:

    Completely disagree with you on the Asik push in the back call. That was definitely not a foul. touching someone’s back does not equate to pushing.

    Also, you sound pretty complainy on number 4. If that’s one of the more egregious comments of the night then I would say they did a good job.

    • 34yr fan says:

      ….that depends on who is doing the pushing AND who is getting pushed…..don’t ya think??

    • 34yr fan says:

      …Hey, Joe….PS: A player can’t push another player in the back when he is in the air for a shot…….no matter how “hard” it is perceived to be……BBALL ‘ 101……bad for the sport and could cause the player to hit the floor off balance and create a possible injury situation ……besides if you are 7 foot tall shouldn’t you be trying to BLOCK the shot? ……maybe against the board? just a thought?!?!?! PPS: IF said player pushes the other player in the back , wouldn’t that indicate that the ‘pushing’ player got Beat to the basket??? ….AND btw…the tipoff Was kinda goofy looking ….LOL All in all it was a typical close game at the end….Spurs missed the last shot after the Rockets hit theirs and the Rockets win…. Good for them and their playoff seeding !! And Good Luck in the playoffs !!!

  62. fan28 says:

    I’ve heard far worse broadcast. Must be a slow day in the league.

  63. Zigaziga says:

    How bout De Colo’s imaginary travel? :D That was the best one from this game!

  64. Adrian says:

    Already stretching big time by the third comment here. Need to stop criticizing the broadcast team at this point and direct your irritation at controversial calls. This is clearly not a foul on Asik. Just one of those stupid veteran bailout calls for Duncan, who missed a wide open layup.

  65. Kazeem says:

    Bill Worrell/Clyde Drexler/Matt Bullard are some of the best commentators in the NBA. They get a little wacky sometimes, but they are great. Calvin Murphy was also good for some decades alongside Worrell. The Lakers have a good tandem going, aswell as the Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. Oh wait, Clippers too.

  66. John says:

    your article is even worst. I don’t see how these guys are any worst or better than the tnt guys or the espn guys…they are commentator, it’s not like they have to be 100% all the time.

  67. Willy says:

    Ya so what do you want, the play by play guys not to have any comments at all and just be neutral through the entire game. Or maybe invite Sean Elliot to join in on the the Houston commentators, then Sean and Clyde could argue about who had the best first step or fade away jumper. It is what it is, kinda fun to listen to them anyway. I am a Spurs fan!