Thursday, June 21, 2007

Just Another Day at The NBA Office

Last week GoCM and I were rapping on instant messenger about just how terrible we found the booth that ESPN/ABC had selected for the NBA Finals. He remarked to me that he would rather have Stanley, the grumpy guy from The Office, in the booth than either Mark Jackson or Jeff Van Gundy. I added that I'd rather have Kelly and Andy from The Office. If you don't understand the references yet, go to another blog. Just do yourself a favor and hit the "back" button on your browser. If you don't watch The Office on NBC, I don't think we can be friends.

Anyhow, this conversation got me on the track of thinking about which NBA national broadcast personalities were like which characters on The Office, and I found some really striking similarities.

Michael Scott -- Charles Barkley

The Chuckster is the main character of this show. If there is a reason that non-hardcore hoops fans will watch a regular season (or Eastern Conference playoff) game, it's Sir Charles at intermission. He says and does profoundly absurd things that he should probably get in trouble for but in the end you are hard-pressed to find a more entertaining person on any broadcast than Barkley.
Jim Halpert -- Mike Tirico

Let's face it: Tirico rules. It'd be difficult to find anyone with anything bad to say about him because he does such a great job. He has some idiosyncrasies that drive you crazy on occasion (ie, over-hyping certain plays, alleged sexual harassment) but it's never really enough to take away from how much you generally enjoy him. Moved to another branch (radio) during a time important to the season's storyline (conference finals & NBA finals) but arguably provided more entertainment there than people at his original office (ESPN/ABC).
Ryan Howard -- Mike Breen

Always manages to be pretty underrated despite being a central character. Started out as a 'temp' when he was a mid-season replacement for Al Michaels, went full-time in Fall '06 and by summer 2007 was at the top of the ABC/ESPN play-by-play ladder. Despite his meteoric rise, he's still fairly unremarkable and sometimes gets dragged down by the other people on the screen with him (see: Jackson, Mark).
Pam Beesly -- Steve Kerr

Great in every respect, Kerr brings it to every single game. Universally loved by the audience, he consistently adds to the broadcast whenever he is featured. Just as if Pam left The Office, the analysis during games aired by TNT will be taking a step back in 07-08... but, just as Office fans generally root for Pam with Jim, TNT viewers will be rooting for Kerr in Phoenix.
Dwight Schrute -- Craig Sager

Completely freaking bizarre in a 100% endearing manner. An odd-looking guy with goofy hair and goofy clothes, he is often the butt of jokes made by the booth. When he gets down to business, however, there are few who can match him at his game. Even though it often seems counter-intuitive, he is one of your favorites and manages to be consistently entertaining and informative.
Angela Martin -- Hubie Brown

Hubie is a total plain Jane. His analysis can be so vanilla that sometimes it's hard to notice him when he's working with a high-energy guy like Tirico (as he was on ESPN Radio during the Finals). That said, he adds something to every broadcast without--and this is important--taking away from the overall on-air product. Just like it's hard to not be amused on a weekly basis by Angela, think about the last time you got frustrated with Hubie Brown during an ESPN/ABC telecast. (In a note unrelated to The Office: how incredible is it, in an era full of infuriating analysts, to have a color guy like Hubie break down a game without distracting you too much with BS [see: Jackson, Mark]? Hubie is my dude.)
Oscar Martinez -- Doug Collins

Rarely seen, has one good exchange per show, could be gay.
Kevin Malone -- Ernie Johnson

E.J. is by far the most underrated cog in the TNT broadcast machine. Ernie will make you laugh every single time out while wrangling a pretty hefty ego across the table. And, seriously, Kevin is one of the two best characters on The Office, I don't care what anyone says.
Stanley Hudson -- Michael Wilbon

Old, grumpy, hilarious. You can almost see Wilbon getting more and more disillusioned with ESPN every broadcast he does -- except he doesn't get a Pretzel Day. Maybe one day the WWL will offer him an attractive buyout and he will jump on it like a hobo on a ham sandwich; maybe he will try and beat Stu Scott in a sack race to take over for Norby Williamson because he wouldn't want to work for any of the other idiots at ESPN. It's all plausible, really.
Phylllis Lapin -- Cheryl Miller

Reggie's sister is not fat, but she is a solid regular contributor. Always good for at least one insightful nugget per game.
Andy Bernard -- Jeff Van Gundy

Constantly seeking approval, a miserable suck-up and generally more than a little annoying, JVG almost single-handedly ruined the Finals for me (almost). And that's not counting the awful basketball or my team getting broomed. Look, just because Jeff was an NBA coach this year doesn't necessarily make him an insightful analyst, just like Andy's degree from Cornell doesn't necessarily make him a good (or even tolerable) coworker. Why is he a suck-up, you may ask? Let's go ask Gregg Popovich, who all but received Van Gundy's coaching resume (applying for an assistant job with the Spurs) over the air during the Finals.
Karen Filippelli -- Reggie Miller

You really weren't sure if you liked him when he first appeared on the scene a year ago but most people have come around to him now that he has a full season under his belt. He still has a pocket of haters amongst the audience but has integrated nicely with Stockton and actually has raised the value of that particular booth over the course of the season. His father also could have been a G.I..
Creed Bratton -- Dick Stockton

Stockton is old-school and not highly internet-savvy. And by old school, I mean old... but still enjoyable. I don't think Creed would know how to pronounce "Anderson Varejao," either. Plus, try to imagine if Dick Stockton tried to write a blog. Ye gods.
Kelly Kapoor -- Mark Jackson

Mark Jackson's most obvious traits as a broadcaster are being highly annoying and largely incomprehensible. Every five weeks or so he hits a home run, but the bad largely outweighs the good. You kind of hope he won't be around next season. Additionally, he was markedly better in his other recent prominent role (Knicks/Pacers PG) -- just as Mindy Kaling's character in The 40 Year Old Virgin (Amy) was much more tolerable.
Meredith Palmer -- Len Elmore

Really, he's just there. If Len Elmore didn't appear on another broadcast, would you really notice?
Toby Flenderson -- Jim Gray

Sometimes you wonder there's so much hatred for this guy, then he goes and does something that makes you really wonder about him. Does Game 2 of the 1999 World Series ring a bell to anyone else?
David Wallace -- Marv Albert

Marv is, as he has always been, the undisputed HMFIC. Like Wallace, Marv is cool as hell with no discernible flaws as a broadcaster. Additionally, he'd probably shoot hoops in his backyard with you.
Jan Levinson -- Stephen A. Smith

When you first heard his name he was a highly respectable and powerful journalist but as he became more and more prominent he slowly revealed himself to be a total lunatic. I wonder if Jan enjoys cheez-doodles...
Darryl Philbin -- Stuart Scott

Stu tries all the time to bring African-American slang to white America, but usually ends up teaching us nonsense. Probably inexplicably makes more than Barkley (Michael).
Roy Anderson -- Jon Barry

Total meathead douchebag with no redeeming value. You wouldn't mind spraying him with a can of mace.

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