Perhaps more than any announcer today, Dick Vitale is synonymous with his one sport—college basketball. But tonight, the bald, one-eyed basketball wacko who beat the ziggy and became a PTP’er will take part in an ESPN gimmick that features a switcheroo of announcing crews.
Vitale will team with play-by-play man Dan Shulman to call the NBA game between the Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat. Meanwhile the crew of Mike Tirico, Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy will call the college contest between Duke and Davidson.
Is it a ploy by ESPN to drum up ratings? Of course. Will it work? Maybe. Will I be watching? You better believe it.
I love both of these announcing booths to begin with. Vitale is a polarizing figure. Either you love his passion for the game or you’re annoyed by his over-the-top enthusiastic delivery. Personally, I love it, and can’t wait to hear his take on the NBA action. And Jackson and Van Gundy are the best analyst duo in the NBA as far as I’m concerned, so it’ll be interesting to hear their views on the college game and the pro prospects in the game, especially Davidson star Stephen Curry.
Dick Vitale’s one-game announcing stint has me thinking about other one-time switches I’d like to see in the NBA this season.
- Referees and Coaches
Imagine Phil Jackson, Gregg Popovich and Stan Van Gundy working a heated contest between the Boston and Cleveland as Celtics Coach Dick Bavetta and Cavs Coach Joey Crawford had to be restrained on the sidelines. Jackson wouldn’t even need to carry a whistle.
- Fans and Announcers
Who wouldn’t want to win the contest that meant you and your best friend could call a game on the air? And wouldn’t It be great to see the regular commentators stuck in the nosebleed seats behind a family with crying children and beside that drunk obnoxious guy you always seem to end up seated near?
- College Team and Pro Team
The NHL has tweaked the sport and made January 1 a showcase date with an outdoor game the past two years. Why can’t basketball follow suit? Take college basketball’s top-ranked team as of December 25 and pit them against the team with the worst record in the NBA in a New Year’s Day showdown. Play the first half with NBA rules (for two 12-minute quarters) and the second half with NCAA rules (for one 20-minute half). Imagine seeing early-entry players Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook and the (at the time) 4-win Oklahoma City Thunder suit up against senior Tyler Hansbrough and the (at the time) undefeated University of North Carolina Tar Heels.
- 3-Point Shot and Dunk
Fans love dunks. But what if, for one game, a dunk was worth 3 points and everything else—including shots from beyond the arc—was worth only 2? Sure, it penalizes the short players and lousy leapers, but it would give players who can dunk—and in the NBA, that’s almost everyone— extra incentive to take it to the hoop and finish strong.
- NBA Rules and Playground Rules
The notion of defining “playground rules” sort of violates the whole spirit of playground basketball to begin with, but there are a few staples that I think are musts. Winner’s ball/make it take it…whatever you call it…would be in effect. There is no time set, but rather a score total. First team to 100 wins. Players call their own fouls. Tie-ups go to the defense. And perhaps most importantly, trash-talking is allowed and encouraged. Mic’ing the court might be a good idea. They have to play the game on HBO for mature language, but it’d be worth it.
For more information, visit MattHubert.com.