Air Check: Is This Basketball Or Hockey?

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.

Of 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.

1. A perfectly unintentional body check

Game: Toronto at Washington, March 31
Broadcast: Toronto

As the weak-side guy on pick-and-roll coverage, you’re supposed to “chuck” the roll man, meaning that you should get into the paint and keep him from having a clear path to the basket. Rudy Gay goes a little too far here, body checking Jan Vesely like it was a Leafs-Caps game.

Gay is called for a Flagrant 1 foul on the play, a reasonable ruling which stands after review. And somehow, Matt Devlin and Leo Rautins feel like this was normal pick-and-roll defense.

Devlin: “There was no intent behind that.”

Rautins: “I think at times now things get a little carried away with whole idea of flagrant and intent and all that. That was just a hard foul.”

2. A run-of-the-mill assist of the year candidate

Game: Cleveland at New Orleans, April 7
Broadcast: New Orleans

If you’ve listened to Lakers games on League Pass the last two seasons, you know that new play-by-play man Bill Macdonald can get a little too excited when his team scores a basket (or just when Metta World Peace attempts a 3-pointer).

It’s a contrast to former Lakers play-by-play man Joel Meyers, who is now calling games for the Hornets. Here, Meyers calls this ridiculous, no-look, through-the-legs Kyrie Irving dime to Tristan Thompson like it was any old assist.

Personally, I’ll take the subdued Meyers over the hyper Macdonald. That pass probably called for a little more inflection, though.

3. All-Star sandwich

Game: Dallas at Denver, April 4
Broadcast: Denver

Scott Hastings is the King of Air Check.

Evan Fournier pushes Dirk Nowitzki in the back here, sending Nowitzki into a flying Kenneth Faried. Hastings, of course, immediately takes offense.

“I guarantee it’ll be here,” he says. “Dirk Nowitzki. Gotta protect him.”

The push is clear as day on the replay, but Hastings isn’t changing his tune.

“That’s a little bit of a Dirk flop and he gets rewarded, because he’s an All-Star.”

4. I can block shots like that

Game: Denver at Dallas, April 12
Broadcast: Dallas

When JaVale McGee blocks a shot a couple of feet above the basket, Mavs broadcaster Jeff Wade goes into some pretty funny schtick about playing against 10 year olds on an 8-foot rim.


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


  1. Floppers says:

    #1 is an obvious flagrant??? Cmon mannnnn give me a break.

  2. Shaun is a moron says:

    Fournier CLEARLY pushed Dirk. Shaun is definitely a MORON. I’d make a better broadcaster than him and I’m not even old enough to drive.

  3. JoeSchmoe says:

    This is the worst column ever. Nothing wrong with number 1 and 4 at all.
    Way to marginalize the entirety of Canadian basketball fans with your title. I know you’re trying to sensationalize, but at what cost?
    And with number four, good job taking out of context what the commentators were saying.
    This is just terrible and lazy. Readers are smarter than you think, we see through the BS.

  4. Bryan says:

    I love basketball, but if you think #1 is a body check go watch some real hockey. A player flops like that in the NHL they get smeared on the boards next shift.

    I thought the NBA had a “No flopping” rule that was in effect? Sure didn’t last too long or make any difference…

  5. Tiny says:

    I am so curious reading this article especially the title itself says ‘is this basketball or hockey?’ Does not matter which sport is this, NBA, NHL, NFL or even FIFA, come on man, these big guys are the best sportmen in their league on planet mother Earth and I am disappointed that you agree that little body check is a fragrant foul. Rudy obviously did not want to hurt him, he did not raise his elbow and he was holding steady. Most importantly, the broadcasters were on Washington’s side. They simply raised out the doubt where many of us have the same. I don’t see how that could be considered as one of the ‘worst’ broadcasting.

  6. Yo says:

    Vesely flopped and although it may be difficult for you to understand, there was no intent behind it as Gay had nothing to say to Vesely afterwards. Also, you call that a hockey check? LOLOL the NBA nowadays and this blog topic is soft.

  7. Shawn Kemp No. 1 says:

    Jesus, before i saw the video i thought Rudy killed him. Get your head out of your behind, that was barely a flagrant.

  8. Ted says:

    While you are talking about flops, number 3 is certainly not a flop. They should fire that broadcaster immediately.

  9. Andre says:

    The article is well written and the videos are nice, but don’t you think it’s a little much to make we watch a gangstar squad trailer before every single one? The same trailer every time???? I stopped reading halfway through because i couldn’t bear it anymore.

  10. 6'2 Center says:

    Brandon Knight is offended if #1 was a flagrant.
    He’s wondering what happened to the call on the play that got him on Shaqtin’ a Fool.

  11. JewBoy says:

    what the nba needs to focus on is flopping

  12. Knickstoraps says:

    Well said J, I agree with your comment 100%. No.1 was clearly just a foul, no harm done just a basic foul.

    • Arky says:

      Yep, I don’t think #1 is a flagrant either. At the very least it’s arguable, and you’d expect the home announcers to argue it.

  13. Mark says:

    Vesely flopped plain and simple.

  14. Nash fan says:

    wow javale! so impressive block!

  15. J says:

    You’re joking on the first one, right? “a reasonable ruling which stands after review” you say? That was the softest flagrant maybe ever, and I saw JJ Barea’s flagrant against Ray Allen. Basketball used to be played with a bit of aggression, yet you think this is too far? C’mon man give your head a shake. You cant say that was a flagrant, this is basketball not ballet. I know they’re spelled similar, but you can’t officiate them the same.

    • coach casey says:

      agree 100%. Leo even says its definitely a foul but that it wasn’t flagrant. Vesely is flopping like theres no tomorrow and I think that that wasn’t any sort of flagrant foul by Rudy.

  16. jOLAN says:

    Number 4 was just awesome! Playing against kids on a 8′ net lol.

    I can def. see the argument Rudy gay has, There was a good acting job on that. Its easy to see when he turns and flails his hands in the air. obviously a foul, but a flagrant foul might be a little over done. Not going to say it was the wrong call, but if i was rudy i would be talking a lot of smack after that about his acting job. hockey has dives too, but there is a lot more self dignity per player in the nhl then there is in the nba. There are a lot of weak big men in basketball, it bugs me so much when u see a guy that big take a little shove and cant hold himself up better then that. yeah he was was hit enough to make him stagger a little, but to flail your arms and twist. come on! have some pride!

    • Yo momma's flagrant says:

      Flagrant foul? Really? A point of credibility lost for John Softman. Sound judgment mustn’t be a prerequisite for being a sports journalist anymore. Obviously John does not watch hockey… or done things like chop wood or move a boulder.