Monday, August 30, 2010

That British Announcer for the FIBA W.Championships

Who is this man? (Quotes from USA v.s. Brazil)

"Whoa! The American's didn't score even though it seemed IMPOSSIBLE for them NOT to!"

"Whatever happens between these two teams...we've been royally treated here today in Istanbul."

[Shot clock starting at 9:59 instead of 10:00] "I hope it doesn't come down to the last second...wait what am I talking about? I hope it does."

"He looked [Splitter] like he'd run out of oxygen...but he found one more."

"Rose lost it!....but he only lost it because Barbosa got a little piece of it..." (Listening to him say "Barbosa", I feel like this is "Pirates of the Caribbean.")

Is it the accent I like then?

"He must have had just a little fear when he heard the whistle 'Hey that better not be on me!'....and it WASN'T."

Final sequence of the game:


Tremendous stuff here. When I first heard this particular announcer I remember thinking how relatively childish he seemed compared to the likes of NBA play by play and color commentators. You know, guys with the slang, the cadence, the Stu Scott, especially the former coaches and players who offer unmatched, elite expertise. THOSE guys know what they're talking about. But within one half of the USA v. Brazil game early this week, those (haughty) thoughts were abandoned and I found myself riveted as much by the announcer's style as the game itself.

He brought passion, knowledge of the game's international players (most of whom I'm sure the domestic guys wouldn't have a clue about in addition to not being able to pronounce names), and some truly admirable lines delivered to enhance the moment in the action. That last bit is reflected in the quotes above, and magnified by the fact that this unnamed Brit (still can't find the chap online) is working the booth alone.

Sometimes he sounded like he was having a conversation with himself, which was quite funny, if unintentional. The man's enthusiasm was absolutely contagious and I quickly found the vocabulary he used to describe the game endearing and nicely contrary to the lines we hear during NBA games. His descriptions of the action were refreshing, colorful, and without a hint of pomposity. Perhaps best of all, there was no lame ribbing of other booth members (also, there were no other booth members), insulting of players, or disdain of the level of play. There's something very pure at work here.

During the very good Lithuania v. Spain contest...I mean game, the American announcer (another mystery man) displayed his kindred spirit. He spoke of Lithunian players Robertas Javtokas, Jonas Maciulius, and Martynas Pocius as if he coached them or knew them through the years. After a rebound and trip to the line for Maciulius, the announcer said "He is a good, good player, he does all the little things." Oh truly? My skepticism wouldn't allow me to believe this without seeing it with my own eyes. As Lithuania was struggling to cut into the Spanish lead( Spain being the most recognizable team in the tournament besides the USA with names like Gasol, Rubio, Fernandez, Garbajosa, and Navarro) the player who "did all the little things" got to the line with gritty drives. OK, so he can do gritty drives.

And then, Maciulius took a hammer, a heavy one, probably steel, and drove the announcer's point home by stripping Rudy Fernandez (he who dunked on Dwight Howard in the Olympics) TWICE IN A ROW and taking it in for TWO TWO-HANDED SLAMS! He pretty much single-handedly made Lithuania's comeback. Naturally, our announcer was going wild.


And again, when Lithuania took the lead.

I love this game.

I love this game. That was THE company line, the slogan, of the NBA a few years back. Let me tell you, it didn't sound one bit contrived coming from the announcer.

Here are true fan of the game, and of the moment, sharing with us their joy. Bonus points for the American announcer's classy ways when, during the nail biting moments at the end of Lithuania v. Spain, the cameras were inexplicably focused on fan reactions when the game was going on. He said something to the effect of: "The camera crew has been great all game long, but let's keep it on the action, please!" Not mean at all.

Maybe it's easy to subconsciously root for the little guys and the underdogs. I'm likely way off base in describing these two announcers with a "blue collar" version of a sports announcer. But the smaller FIBA stage (funny calling the world stage smaller than the national one, but it's absolutely true) has me not only interested, but pretty damn riveted. And while the players and the play are the primary reasons, they are getting an enthusiastic lift from some pretty cool commentary guys.

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