It looks like the Portland Trail Blazers will have not just a new broadcast network, but also a new play-by-play announcer this fall. The team is moving to Root Sports ahead of the 2021-22 season, and as per John Canzano of The Oregonian, that’s also going to lead to them bringing back former play-by-play announcer Kevin Calabro:
Broadcast news… Trail Blazers have plans to bring Kevin Calabro back as their lead TV broadcaster, per source.
Organization has informed Jordan Kent.
— John Canzano (@johncanzanobft) June 16, 2021
Calabro, 64, was once known as the voice of the Seattle SuperSonics, calling games for that team from 1987-2008 (and stopping with their relocation to Oklahoma City ahead of the 2008-09 NBA season). He then jumped to the new Seattle Sounders of MLS, and also worked in college football, but went back to the NBA from 2016-20 with the Blazers, opting to “step down” to focus on his family ahead of that season’s restart in Orlando. (Local broadcasters were not allowed into the Orlando bubble and had to call games from their studios, which is what Kent, the former host of Blazers’ TV broadcasts, did for the 2020 season.)
On some levels, there’s some logic to this change. Calabro’s calls from 2016-20 did receive a fair bit of praise, and he’s certainly an established NBA broadcaster (even if relatively new to calling the Blazers). If he’s decided that he wants to spend less time with his family and return to NBA broadcasting, there’s some logic around the Blazers welcoming him back. And the Blazers’ broadcasting situation is certainly going to be better in 2021-22 than it was when he stepped down, both in terms of being able to call games on site and in terms of the amount of carriage those games will get (NBC Sports Northwest had major carriage struggles in its final years, and Root Sports is in around double the number of homes NBC Sports Northwest was in.)
On another level, though, this is certainly unfortunate for Kent. The 36-year-old Kent got a prime broadcasting job last summer when he was tabbed to replace Calabro (seen above in 2016), and it’s definitely not great to see him have to work through two pandemic-altered seasons only for Calabro to suddenly change his mind and ride back in when NBA broadcasts are returning to something closer to normal. At the same time, though, Kent has plenty of years ahead if he decides to stay in sports broadcasting, and this setback isn’t necessarily permanent. We’ll see where things go from here.
[John Canzano on Twitter]