Each and every year during the NBA Finals I find myself wondering how it’s possible that Marv Albert is not a contributing voice to the NBA’s No. 1 announcing team. To me, Marv is the voice of the NBA and has been for years. Remember the MJ call against the Lakers in the 1991 NBA Finals?
For anyone that even casually follows sports, his vocal guidance during that sequence is nearly impossible to forget. The flu game? Marv was there to provide the proper significance of the moment. But now he’s no longer in the pole position of sports announcing, which makes me sad and has me wondering aloud that if I could hand pick my ideal announcing teams, what sports broadcasting personalities would form the most dynamic duos?
After some intense thought and consideration that spanned the globe like Mighty Mouse, this is what I came up with. In no particular order:
Marv Albert & Gorilla Monsoon
Marv has obviously been discussed, but his unique ability to adapt, adjust and mock make him the true chameleon of sports broadcasting. I’m certain he could be assigned to an event with just minutes to prepare and he’d still manage to deliver in sensational fashion. His style never fails to come across as both authentic and informed, and the sound of his voice consistently makes the viewer feel as though they’re witnessing something of great significance. Which brings me to Gorilla Monsoon. The former WWF announcer was no stranger to the big spot, but like an internationally respected chef, he mostly let the food do the talking while sprinkling the broadcast with succinct insight and an occasional zing when necessary. Much like Marv, the sound of Monsoon’s voice always equated to a big event. This charismatic duo forms the Voltron of captivating sports commentary.
Ian Darke & Jesse Ventura
I was introduced into the graceful world of Ian Darke during last summer’s World Cup. His unforgettable work throughout the exhilarating tournament proved to be more eloquent than if all of Picasso’s paintings began conversing in a museum. Of course, as most of us are, I’m partial to the Landon Donovan call. That piece of history will never cease in giving me a surge of unrelenting goosebumps, and Darke is largely responsible for nearly all of it. Frankly, I wish we heard more from the English commentator. In a sports world of severe overexposure, Darke remains criminally underused. I have him partnered with Jesse Ventura because Darke’s classy, unbiased approach is a great match for the always blunt Ventura, who once grotesquely described Hillybilly Jim kissing his wife as, “two chickens going for the same piece of food.”
Hubie Brown & Gus Johnson
It would be difficult to say there’s an announcer who adores the sport of basketball more than Hubie Brown. His description of a simple routine pick set by someone as irrelevant as Stacey King is still delivered with as much passion, wisdom and gumption than anything Robert DeNiro has ever done on the big screen. Hubie is one of the few remaining broadcasters that houses the ability to aptly tell the story without dragging it into the next five plays. Why the pairing with Gus Johnson? I believe Gus would be able to provide us with the thrilling calls we’ve become so accustomed to, but with Hubie having the ability to police the young man into proper levels of enthusiasm throughout the course of the game in order to pull off the perfect broadcast. We’re all aware Gus needs a little wind beneath his wing, and Hubie makes for the perfect gust of knowledge.
Cris Collinsworth & Jay Bilas
This one is an alliance that was formed in the Shrewd Arrogance Hall of Fame. Both of these men are highly intelligent and brutally honest, which often makes for entertaining commentary. Think everything that Joe Theismann isn’t. If Bilas or Collinsworth find something to be foolish or stupid, they are going to tell us that they find it foolish or stupid. There’s no sugarcoating, which is a growing problem in sports broadcasting. So many recently retired athletes who jumped into announcing work are reluctant to offer original, unfiltered, non-cliche analysis. It’s become nearly extinct, making this condescending duo refreshingly awesome.
Bill Walton & Bobby “The Brain” Heenan
Some viewers find Bill Walton irritating, some find him hilarious. I’m firmly with the latter. Sure, he can be an absurd listen at times, for example: “Oh come on, pull up and take the three!” (Player pulls up, shoots three, misses). “What was he thinking there with that three? Terrrrrrrible.” But that’s exactly what makes one appreciate Bill Walton, if only because he’s the same guy who will tell you that a trip to Six Flags Magic Mountain will improve the quality of your life immeasurably. So the perfect pairing for such an affable man of the people and earth itself, would be the king of pure evil, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. The man has the innate ability to coast through a tense moment with complete and total disregard for anyone’s feelings. Think Steve “Snapper”Jones, but with bigger balls. If there were one man who could heal Heenan’s cold, black heart, it’s Walton.
Dream Sideline Reporter: Gene Okerlund
This has nothing to do with Mean Gene’s association with wrestling and everything to do with the fact that the man is impervious to being flustered and spent decades staring fear directly in the eye. Craig Sager should have been out of the job years ago.
[Photos via Getty]