Spurs fans who don’t live in San Antonio don’t always get to watch the Spurs broadcast. That’s especially true when you live in the market of their opponent on the night, or any other strange reason the NBA may black out either the Spurs feed or both on League Pass.
Sometimes watching the game from another team’s perspective can be an interesting and enlightening experience. Other times not so much, with a constant example being when they play the Rockets, whose broadcast crew is notorious for its extreme homerism (even without Clyde Drexler) and are consistently considered one of the worst in the league.
Here is a sampling of what that experience was like during their most recent win in Houston from two Pounders who didn’t have the pleasure of watching the Spurs feed.
Lee: I understand the difficulty of announcing basketball games. Announcing basketball is more difficult than writing about basketball because the announcers can’t go back and fix mistakes like I can before this goes live on Pounding the Rock. All that being said, some mistakes need to be called out.
One of these mistakes happened Saturday night in the Rockets’ game, by long-time Rockets announcer Bill Worrell. (I was stuck with the Rockets feed because the Spurs feed was not available here in Los Angeles.) As Patty Mills came into the game for the Spurs in the first quarter, Worrell decided it was a good time to become a game show host.
Worrell announced that Patty recently became the Spurs all-time leader in three-pointers made coming off the bench. Worrell then turned to Rockets color guy Matt Bullard and asked if Bullard knew who was second. Surprisingly, Bullard did not know — and this is when things went off the rails.
Worrell: ”How about if I give you a clue about the player in second place on the list?”
Worrell: ”He is from Venezuela.”
I decided to watch the rest of the game with the sound off.
Marilyn: You made the right decision, Lee. Unfortunately, I did not, so here is what you and anyone else fortunate enough to have Bill Land and Sean Elliott available missed out on. Living in Houston, I have no choice but to listen to the Rockets announcers when the Spurs play them, and for the fifth time this season (including two preseason games), I suffered through it. I thought it couldn’t get much worse than not knowing where Manu Ginobili is from after all these years (and that he would lead the Spurs in nearly all bench stats), but it did, to the point that I had to vent it all out to J.R. Wilco after the game.
First, there’s the general blunders that happened more than they should have, like confusing players, misstating which team had the lead and by how much — including in crunch time — and stuff like that, but that’s somewhat forgivable. What really got on my last nerve was the sheer mouthiness of Worrell and Bullard, saying stuff that you just don’t expect from professionals.
First, there was Jakob Poeltl. While the announcers had nice things to say about his defense early on, they naturally grew more frustrated as the night wore on and he continued to cause trouble for the Rockets at the rim. However, the moment that left me shaking my head came with about 3 minutes left, when he tripped over Victor Oladipo, earning two free throws. (That he actually made!) Worrell’s response — or at least I believe it was Worrell:
“You can’t give Poeltl that call! He’s weak!”
Wow. Real professional. You can debate if it was a legit call or not (a good enough replay to say one way or the other was never shown), but calling the opposing team’s players “weak” because you don’t like a call? Not cool.
Then there was Drew Eubanks. The Rockets announcers can be forgiven for not knowing too much about the third string center, but the disrespect was beyond the pale. Every call that went his way (or at least not the Rockets way), they complained about his status in the league as a “rookie”, saying stuff like, “He doesn’t deserve that call. Maybe if he was a second-year veteran.”
News flash: he’s actually a third-year veteran. Yes, he is on his first guaranteed contract after appearing in just 45 games with the Spurs over the last two seasons as a two-way player. That’s not a lot, but by all definitions he is not a rookie, and had Warrell and Bullard done their due diligence prior to the game, they would know that. And did I mention this was their response to seeing what video replay showed was clean block by Eubanks, not defensive goaltending as they previously thought? It’s not too hard to just admit when you’re wrong.
This leads me to final complaint: the amount of whining about the Spurs getting more free throws on the night, anything they perceived as a flop or exaggeration of contact, or actually making plays meant to draw fouls, like pump fakes. Do these guys even remember who they spent the last seven-plus seasons covering? That’s right: James Harden — the king of flops, drawing free throws, and a style of play that everyone else in the league finds unpleasing to watch, defend against, and not in the spirit of the game. Did they complain about his style and the amount of free throws he drew for the Rockets that whole time? Highly unlikely.
The point is, I know not everyone is a huge fan of Bill and Sean, and you won’t typically find them at the top of NBA announcer rankings because they are considered homers by many (which I don’t have a problem with when it comes to local announcers, who are there for the fanbase), but they do their homework and respect the game and opponent, and that’s something to be appreciated. So if you ever find yourself getting tired of listening to them, just go watch a Rockets games. You just might find a new appreciation for the Spurs broadcast team.