SI.com’s NBA writers debate the biggest question of the day. Today, we examine …
What is your dream NBA Finals broadcast team?
Richard Deitsch: Mike Breen, Hubie Brown and Charles Barkley. I honestly have no idea if this group would jell, but I love the idea of the basketball wonk Brown bantering with the unfiltered Barkley. As I've written often, I always learn something when Brown works a broadcast; he sees the game as well as any analyst who has ever worked in the sport. Barkley is funny, fearless and probably the only sports broadcaster working today who is appointment viewing. Breen is a superb game-caller who also benefits viewers by having a command of the NBA rule book. When the Deitsch Network is formed, this is my NBA Finals team.
Lee Jenkins: Ian Eagle, Charles Barkley and Kobe Bryant. I don't usually dream about such things, but if I did, I'd try to bring back Chick Hearn. In lieu of that, let's go with a three-man booth of Eagle, Barkley and Bryant. I realize Kobe still has another job, but he is the rare professional athlete who is as outspoken as Barkley, and as insightful. Besides, he was around Hearn enough to pick up a few things. No one knows yet what Kobe will do after basketball -- maybe he'll start a business, maybe he'll run a team, maybe he'll coach the Lakers and bench every one of them -- but if he chooses TV, he can be the next-best option to Barkley. They wouldn't need a sideline reporter, but if one is necessary, I'd like to see Stephen Colbert interview Pop.
Ben Golliver: Marv Albert, Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan. For someone weaned on 1990s-era basketball, I don't think it can get any better than this. Albert is a peerless play-by-play guy with a voice capable of making the absolute most out of an iconic moment. Would Jordan's "spectacular move" righty-to-lefty, pumping layup have been as spectacular without Albert's excited call? Nope. He's a no-brainer; the only other names in contention are Bob Costas and Mike Breen. My thinking with Barkley, usually a studio analyst, and Jordan, not a broadcaster or a man of many words publicly, would be to capture their golf course/drinking buddy/casino gambling rapport that the public has rarely seen. I'm a big fan of the dual color commentator approach, especially when the two men have some shared history. No one else in the NBA community is as affable as Barkley, and he would be uniquely equipped at conjuring personality and basketball insights out of Jordan, who might initially be a bit reluctant in front of the microphone. Who wouldn't want to be the proverbial fly on the wall when these two guys go back and forth? Who wouldn't want to hear Barkley zing Jordan, and who wouldn't want to hear the Greatest Of All Time's on-the-spot reply? Now, imagine these two friends and rivals breaking down LeBron James' shot selection or Tim Duncan's place in history, as Albert steps in to referee and call the gritty details of the action. I'm salivating just thinking about this trio's potential.
Phil Taylor: Marv Albert, Jeff Van Gundy, Craig Sager/Doris Burke: I'll take Albert on play-by-play. Probably because of where I grew up (in New York) and when I grew up (a long, long time ago), his voice just says "NBA" to me. Van Gundy is my pick for analyst. He can break down a game, isn't afraid to criticize players (although he's too soft on coaches) and does it all with a sense of humor that makes him a more entertaining listen than most other analysts. Sideline reporters: Give me Sager interviewing Gregg Popovich, and Burke talking to everyone else. She puts on a clinic in how to frame questions in a way that elicits thoughtful answers. My studio show would have Charles Barkley and Bill Simmons together. Barkley isn't afraid to say anything, no matter how controversial. Simmons is almost there, but you get the feeling he still edits himself (or ESPN does) a little. Chuck would help him get past that. Together, they would either make magic or Barkley would throttle Simmons on live TV -- either way, worth watching. Then I'd add a real reporter to the mix. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, who seems to break almost every NBA story there is, just joined Fox Sports 1, so he now qualifies as a broadcaster. Put him on the studio show as well. The host of the whole thing would be Bob Costas, who in my mind is the best sportscaster of our generation. He has enough wit to set up Barkley and Simmons, and the gravitas to handle the more serious stories. That's a must-see broadcast.
Matt Dollinger: Marv Albert, Reggie Miller, Spike Lee. Hey, we said "dream," right? This trio might not be able to break down the intricacies of a pick-and-roll defense, but it'll make up for it in other areas. Low on actual basketball analysis, heavy on entertainment -- who wouldn't want to listen in on Marv, Reggie and Spike having a three-hour conversation? No, Reggie Miller isn't exactly Howard Cosell, but he would be at his TV best flanked by Albert and Lee. The trash-talking and ball-busting would be of epic proportions. Spike is definitely the biggest wild card in this group, but he would make for a fascinating broadcaster. Outside of Jimmy Goldstein, Lee might be the NBA's biggest -- and most interesting -- fan. His knowledge of the game, his celebrity, his history with Marv and Reggie and his unique perspective make him an attractive candidate. I don't need to explain why Albert is a part of this booth, nor do I need to explain my dream sideline reporter selection. It's Gregg Popovich.
Chris Johnson: Marv Albert, Jeff Van Gundy, Doris Burke. Including Albert on my broadcasting dream team was a no-brainer. He’s been calling games seemingly forever, and his catchphrases, delivered with a seemingly endless supply of enthusiasm, don’t get old. I sense there’s a group of college hoops fans that would appreciate Albert also calling that sport’s main event. Van Gundy’s blunt honesty is always appreciated, with his candor on blown calls really shining through. As for Burke, her reputation as one of sports’ rising broadcast stars is well earned. Her knowledge of the game and ability to articulate easy-to-digest analysis enhances any broadcast. As for whether this trio would mesh well together … who knows? That’s a bonus of creating any kind of dream team: You don’t need to worry about the finer details.
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