With legendary call-man Marv Albert announcing his retirement at the end of the 2021 NBA Eastern Conference Finals, a gaping hole will be left in the world of sports announcing. While there are a handful of suitable replacements — ABC’s Mike Breen is the first that comes to mind — it got us thinking about the art of announcing, and those who never quite mastered it.
Sports announcing is subjective. There are some who loathe Joe Buck with a passion, while others love the way he calls a game. There really isn’t a right or wrong, only loud opinions.
Announcing is a difficult job and it’s impressive that anyone has the ability to entertain for an entire game… but some just get under our skin.
So, let’s take a look at a few announcers and color commentators we’ve dubbed “The Worst of All Time.”
There are a handful of ex-athletes who do a great job calling games — Grant Hill, Cris Collinsworth, Steve Kerr (back in the day) — but Jackson is not one of them.
From his catchphrases — “Hand Down, Man Down” to “Momma There Goes That Man” — to his insistence on talking about his playing days, Jackson has ruined many a basketball game for fans over the years.
His apparent lack of preparation is downright offensive, and it leads to the same talking points game in and game out. Watch a game in which Jackson is on the call and count how many times you hear the phrase “You gotta give him credit.” If it’s under 20, steak dinner on me.
Jeff Van Gundy
The reason for Mark Jackson’s awful commentating is in part his other sidekick — Jeff Van Gundy.
Van Gundy, former New York Knicks and Houston Rockets coach, fancies himself as the intellect on every call. For some reason, Van Gundy feels the need to insert his inane rule suggestions and complaints on the current state of the game at the worst possible times. Yes, he’s an ex-coach, but that doesn’t mean he should be giving pointers on the call.
The sign of a good announcer is knowing when to stay quiet, a skill Van Gundy has yet to acquire. Take a listen to the clip below from the final minutes of game seven of the 2016 NBA Finals.
With a minute and a half remaining in one of the greatest game seven’s in the history of sports, Van Gundy just can’t help himself from coaching. Thanks for ruining the moment, Jeff.
Stan Van Gundy
Jeff’s older brother, Stan, also makes our list of worst announcers. Thankfully, Stan has left the booth for New Orleans to coach Zion Williamson and the Pelicans, but that doesn’t mean we forget what he put us through.
As is the case with his brother, Stan never understood when it was time to let the game breathe. His knowledge of the game is unquestioned, but he never gave us a minute to appreciate his insight with his incessant talking. Still, I’ll take Stan over Jeff any day of the week.
Timing was never A-Rod’s thing during his playing days — his inability to clutch up at the plate when it was needed is well-known — and it sure isn’t in the booth.
Baseball is a difficult sport to call — there is a ton of time to fill and the sport can be quite dull — so we should give Rodriguez a bit of a break, but we won’t. His lying regarding his use of PEDs while playing professional baseball hurts his credibility, and his commentary is often flat and unexciting.
ESPN has made a habit of hiring big-name former ballplayers to its ranks in order to boost ratings, but A-Rod’s dull tone does nothing to get the fans to tune in.
Some former athletes turned announcers really know how to take their athletic expertise and explain it to the viewers — Chris Webber is not one of those athletes.
Webber loved to go on long-winded stories from his playing days right smack in the middle key moments.
It be a whole game going on and a key sequence and Chris Webber just randomly start telling a long ass story like
"Yeah James, it was 1996, I was still just a young buck in this league and Michael Jeffery Jordan grabbed me by the arm and said 'young fella…" like we GAF
— Eddie Gonzalez (@bansky) August 19, 2020
Chris Webber just talked for 75 straight seconds and I’m still not sure what he said.
— Zac Jackson (@AkronJackson) August 19, 2020
Thankfully, TNT won’t be renewing Webber’s contract at the end of the season and — in classic Webber fashion — he left the network before the start of the playoffs.
This one kills me to admit, but Kornheiser never should have been calling Monday Night Football. A wonderful columnist and the person we credit for the beginning of sports “debate shows,” Kornheiser and play-by-play announcer Mike Tirico never jelled.
Kornheiser was not a “football guy,” an often seemed more interested in inserting jokes and discussing the storylines than commenting on what was happening on the field. It just didn’t work.
“One, and this is not a problem in philosophy — it’s a problem in execution — as we’re doing the game, I could never ask Tony about anything that happened on the field,” Tirico told Sports Illustrated in 2017. “He was driven by story lines and personalities, which all were germane to the game itself, but when we got down to players 30 through 35 … he’d probably be the first person to tell you this, he didn’t have a ton of information on that. He always said, ‘It’s not my interest who the backup offensive guard is.’ But that’s the lifeblood to me of a quality football broadcast, and I could never do that with him. So that made it always challenging.”
MNF was never for Kornheiser. But we’ll still tune in for “Pardon the Interruption” with Mike Wilbon every day.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
The Daily Wire is one of America’s fastest-growing conservative media companies and counter-cultural outlets for news, opinion, and entertainment. Get inside access to The Daily Wire by becoming a member.