Yesterday, former NBA All-Star and longtime broadcaster Steve “Snapper” Jones passed away at the age of 75.
Jones was known for many things, perhaps most for his years working alongside Bill Walton.
While Jones had a terrific basketball career, he’s probably better-known for his outstanding work as a longtime television analyst, particularly as a color commentator for NBA on NBC for 13 years. Jones was frequently paired with his former Blazers teammate Bill Walton in three-man booths on NBC, and their (good-hearted) arguments made for very entertaining television.
Jones started his career as a broadcaster with CBS in 1976, and was also an analyst for TBS, TNT, NBATV. Additionally, he served as analyst for the Trail Blazers and Seattle Sonics, and covered the 1992 Barcelona Olympics for NBC.
On Sunday, while calling the PK80 tournament in Portland, Walton spent some time talking about what Jones meant to him as a colleague and a friend, sounding close to tears in a few spots, and understandably so:
bill walton talks snapper jones pic.twitter.com/hTBEKw7b3c
— ALSO, KEITHFUJIMOTO (@vineydelnegro) November 26, 2017
A touching tribute, indeed.
Later in the day, while calling Michigan State’s 63-45 rout of fellow top-10 team North Carolina, Walton went on a typical Bill Walton tangent, spinning a note about star Spartan sophomore Miles Bridges into an ode to the fascinating functionality of bridges themselves, before diving into Portland’s bridge network:
Bill Walton is a treasure for moments like these; note how he snaps back to the game and praises the transition feed before it’s even out of the passer’s hand. Walton is more famous for his long-winded digressions at this point, and that can bother some viewers, especially when the games are close or entertaining.
But he’s invaluable in a blowout, effortlessly weaving in and out, his presence serving as anathema to any sort of dead air or broadcast boredom.
On top of that, Walton still offers plenty of actual analysis as well. But it’s his willingness to be himself, mostly unfiltered, that leads to moments like those above, in turn heartfelt and hilarious