Now that the Blazers have hired the voice of the NBA Finals from ESPN (a huge get no matter what one’s thoughts on the outgoing broadcasters) the next move is to hire a Color Commentator to round out the team. It sounds like Calabro will have some say in who will be chosen although he said he didn’t have a specific person in mind right away, just an idea of what he thought would work from an energy standpoint.. So who are the names being thrown about?
Steve Smith: He worked as an announcer for the Atlanta Hawks and has also was a broadcaster on NBA-TV. He is very civically minded and received the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award in for the 1997-1998 NBA season and in 2001-2002 was awarded the Joe Dumars NBA Sportsmanship Award. He is very smooth, knowledgeable and has former Blazer ties.
Brent Barry: He has been a studio analyst for NBA-TV and also done color commentary for TNT where he has worked with Calabro and called some of the Blazers/Grizzlies playoff series from 2015. He also was on the call for the game in which Wesley Matthews tore his Achilles and was spot on with his initial reaction to how serious the injury might be. A former Oregon State Beaver and then Seattle Supersonic for 4 seasons, he also has ties to the Northwest. Another seamless fit with Calabro.
PJ Carlisimo: Currently living in Seattle, PJ has gone from coaching to broadcasting doing work for TNT, Westwood One, FoxSports, ESPN and a few Spurs games. He brings a wealth of insight from being a head coach and also on the bench as an assistant for the Spurs during three championship seasons. A ton of experience but would Blazer fans take to that raspy voice game after game?
Michael Holton: Having served as a pre and post-game host along with being a sideline reporter for Blazer broadcasts, this would fill the ‘local ties’ box that many seem to want. No real experience doing color commentary but as a former player and coach, certainly has the insight. Comes across to some as trying to be ‘too cute’ with the one-liners and witticisms in describing replays.
Abbey Chin: Former host of Talkin’ Ball and now sideline reporter for the Boston Celtics, Chin would bring a very fresh face and a tone of energy back to Portland. This wouldn’t be an obvious candidate but from connecting with women and younger fans as well as the social media side of the business, might be a very forward thinking hire.
Bill Walton: The over hyperbole filled musings of the former Trail Blazer player and NBA broadcaster can certainly be as ‘colorful’ as anyone spouting into a microphone. Listening to Walton call a game reminds me of deciphering Dennis Miller doing the SNL news. The analogies are of epic proportion and a player can go from the greatest in the world to making one of the three all-time dumbest plays in the history of basketball in the blink of an eye. Love him or hat him, no one could say he wasn’t entertaining.
There are certainly other that can be added to any list and it will be interesting to see what stamp of approval Calabro is looking for. Given his repartee’ with his sidekicks in the passed, I don’t see any reason to feel that whomever the choice is will be a tandem Blazer fans enjoy for years to come.