Ed Note: Earlier this week Wizards play by play man Steve Buckhantz and Pistons play by play man George Blaha mistakenly called a game ending airball by Washington's Trevor Ariza as a game winning three pointer. The blooper, especially Buckhantz's call, went viral and was even mocked on national television by Inside the NBA. However, from the announcer's perspective, it was a perfect storm of circumstances working against the men who called the game. And, it was symbolic of larger issues that have faced broadcasters around the NBA. An anonymous veteran NBA announcer writes about those issues and why they led to the retracted dagger Wednesday night.
Philadelphia was the first, Washington this year was the second to move TV off of its traditional courtside location. More will be coming in future years I have no doubt. Both have been used as radio locations for years. This dates back to 2006, on what we call “that black day” when teams (lobbied by owners) were allowed to convert their radio broadcast locations into premium seating for big money.
Some arenas were equipped with space at suite level, giving you a long view, but unobstructed. Others were not, so the broadcasts were moved either way up high, off to an angle, or both. It started with about ten teams doing it, now I think we’re at 22 or 23 who’ve done it. If your team is one of them, you’re basically going to get 10 games courtside out of 82 as opposed to 80 out of 82. (Cleveland always had their great Joe Tait perched in the first balcony… Boston had that for years at the old Garden for Johnny Most.)
As for the other night, Washington’s spot is parallel with one basket, so things that happen on the other end are a long way away. With the shot not getting any of the rim, it was the perfect storm.
It was nice to see other broadcasters in the league come to their (Buckhantz and Blaha's) defense on this one. We have the tendency to eat our young, as some guys have difficulty fighting that 'worse another guy looks, the better you look' mentality. But I think we all know it could happen to us tomorrow.
So for TV, yes, Washington is the absolute worst, Phily is high and pretty off center, but the angle isn’t as harsh. For radio, Dallas, Denver and New York are high, so is Washington. Places like Atlanta and Miami offer a decent view but you’re in fan aisles and there’s no security.
It is what it is, you won’t get guys to talk about it on the record because our bosses obviously would prefer that we just shut up and deal with it. Which I get. This is a big issue for the broadcasters in the league, and the NFL too where it's getting bad. Management can do whatever they want to make as much money as they can. I just don't like to see my colleagues take the fall for it.
If you're a professional announcer with something to share on the sports media or broadcasting industry, drop us an e-mail at the address listed to your left.
(Pic via cjzero)