Who Is That Smooth Dude? Reggie Theus is turning heads with his commentary during the NBA playoffs

May 03, 1998

As usual, the crowd for tonight's Los Angeles Lakers game at the
Great Western Forum resembles a cattle call for Hollywood Hunks
du jour. Seated a few rows beyond one baseline is Scott Wolf
(Party of Five), and somewhere in the stands, hiding under a
baseball cap, is King of the World Leonardo DiCaprio. At
midcourt, occupying the best seat in the house and drawing
flirtatious glances from the Laker Girls, is a tall leading-man
type in a handmade, meticulously tailored suit. He not only
looks like a star, he's got all the accessories--a thick
modeling portfolio, an acting coach, a personal trainer, three
agents and a starring role in a popular Saturday-morning sitcom.

He also stands 6'7" and could still break off a move on Young
Master Kobe. But Reggie Theus isn't here to network, he's here
to work. He's doing color commentary for TNT, and a quick peek
at the NBA record book shows that Theus isn't just another
pretty voice. He was a two-time All-Star and scored 19,015
points and had 6,453 assists. Among retired players, only
first-ballot Hall of Famers John Havlicek, Oscar Robertson and
Jerry West reached the 19,000-6,000 double. After 13 seasons
playing on teams so bad they made The Postman look good, Theus
is now a triple threat on television. In the NBC
Saturday-morning comedy-with-a-message Hang Time, Theus plays
Bill Fuller, a retired NBA star who coaches a high school team
in the mythical town of Deering, Ind. He also appears several
nights a week on TNT's and TBS's NBA broadcasts, working either
as a cohost from Turner Broadcasting's Techwood studio in
Atlanta or as a courtside color commentator. During the
playoffs, which began April 23, he will be on the air almost
every night. Among court commentators, only Gerry Spence gets
more airtime.

Now in his fourth season with Turner, Theus, 40, relies on the
same trait that distinguished him as a player: He's always
willing to take shots. "The Lakers are totally falling apart,"
he says tonight after Los Angeles's front line allows an
uncontested Phoenix tip-in to ice the game. "That's just
terrible basketball." During a Jazz-Sonics game in Seattle,
Theus's partner, Bob Neal, noted that Seattle coach George Karl
considered Utah's mercurial forward Chris Morris "the unknown
factor in tonight's game." Theus pounced on that: "He's an
unknown factor, period," he added, chuckling. "Who can figure
that guy out?"

The same might be asked of Theus--does he want to be a
broadcaster or a matinee idol? His TV teammates are more than
happy to help him decide. "I think Reggie's a much better
broadcaster than he is an actor," says Ernie Johnson, Theus's
sidekick on the TNT and TBS studio shows. "I mean, I haven't
seen him getting any daytime Emmy nominations. Have you?"

Theus, who wants to break into films, has elected not to return
to Hang Time. "I want to evolve as an actor," says Theus,
sounding more Hollywood than Techwood. "But I always want to be
involved with basketball. Ultimately I see myself as a
play-by-play guy."

So is he the next Al Pacino or the next Al Michaels? Either way,
Reggie Theus, standing on the corner of Hollywood and twine, is
ready for his close-up.

He stands 6'7" and could still break off a move on Young Master
Kobe.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)