The cries have been loud and clear from fans of the NBA and committed viewers to the NBA Playoffs – get the local announcers off NBATV! Throughout the First Round of the NBA Playoffs, you’re guaranteed that usually the lowest games on the marquee are destined for NBATV land. It’s like the kiddie table of your NBA Playoffs viewing experience. This year we’re talking Hawks/Magic, Spurs/Grizzlies, and Bulls/Pacers. Those are the three games that have been on NBATV so far through the first week of the playoffs, but they’ve all had one thing in common.
The practice of using local announcers for playoff games isn’t unique to the NBA – Versus has done it with NHL games when they broadcast multiple games in an evening. However, the fan outcry has been present during these playoffs that NBA fans don’t want their playoff games infested with homerism. The most visible (or egregious) case came during the Spurs/Grizzlies game on Wednesday. NBATV picked up on the local feed with San Antonio announcers Bill Land and Sean Elliott. Let’s just say that many fans were not impressed with the homerism of the announcers.
And then, there was perhaps the most famous and influential of all NBA fans chiming in, Bill Simmons…
Ouch. For the record, I agree with the sentiments here. Land and Elliott’s announcing was at best annoying and at worst insufferable. I’m sure thousands of NBA fans around the country reached for the remote to change the channel, or at least hit the mute button. However, as I tweeted Wednesday night. Don’t blame Elliott and Land… blame NBATV.
The Spurs announcers are supposed to be biased towards the Spurs. They aren’t paid to give a rational, objective viewpoint. They are paid to be Spurs announcers. Same thing goes for the Pacers announcers that were on NBATV the next night. They are broadcasting those games to a local audience and NBATV is merely picking up the feed. So, fans disgusted and irritated by homerism should not get angry with the local announcers themselves, but with the national network that provides the one-sided broadcasts.
I can understand fan ire with this one – imagine if the top ESPN crew announced every Lakers game from the perspective of the Los Angeles fan and were openly biased towards the Lakers… oh, wait, they already do that? Bad example…
It’s not like Turner is short of on-air talent or people capable of working a broadcast. Marv Albert, Kevin Harlan, Dick Stockton, Ian Eagle, and Matt Devlin have all done pbp this postseason. Steve Kerr, Mike Fratello, Chris Webber, Reggie Miller, and Kevin McHale have all been game analysts. Perhaps even more puzzling was seeing the NBATV studio crew talk over the local Pacers crew during the last two minutes of the game. WHY NOT JUST HAVE THEM BROADCAST THE ENTIRE GAME!?! It doesn’t quite make sense.
Local broadcasts during the NBA season are no issue, but clearly the Playoffs are a different matter. NBATV must put a national crew on the air to work these games. A network that reached 45 million homes as of 2009 can’t think that fans will be satisfied watching playoff broadcasts designed for only a small subset of that number. NBATV is depriving fans of a proper national broadcast, devoid of a partisan point of view, at a time when the most eyeballs are on the Association. Announcing bias is maybe the one topic that draws the most heat and controversy from viewers. Fans around the country don’t want to hear an openly biased perspective for nationally televised playoff games. With the ratings doing fantastic numbers on ESPN and TNT, NBATV needs to do a better job for NBA fans.