So while we're waiting for the next game to roll around, and the Rockets are enjoying a few days off, with seemingly no days off in the month of January, let's turn to a topic of no special relevance - home team announcers.
I enjoyed Ian Jacoby's poem about the Rockets crew. But I'd say this - It could honestly be so much worse.
I'll state for the record that I've always classified the Rockets crew as "Genial Homers". They generally don't have an axe to grind with the other team, and they'll give credit where it is due, but they're all Rockets, all the time. I am completely fine with that.
If you think corny dad jokes are bad, try announcers who are trying to be current in their jargon. They won't be, and it is truly painful. Or you could have the inexplicable, indefensible, inadequate and sometime incoherent, Matt Harpring. You'd long for Clyde Drexler to say nothing much in a very pleasant way pretty quick then, my friend.
While most local broadcast analysts are terrible basketball analysts, again be careful what you wish for - you might get it. Advanced stats make for good analysis, and long form articles, and generally awful television. Want your crew to talk about what real hoopheads think is truly, deeply, relevant? Quick! Make a spreadsheet exciting! Let's talk regression! Do it now! Make it compelling!
Never mind that amazing shot that guy just made, let's talk significant sample sizes and the probability he won't ever make that shot again. It takes a gifted writer to turn that stuff into readable articles, and I have a keen interest in the topic. Unlike, let's be generous, 95% of the fanbase. How much harder is it to integrate such things live, amidst game action, in spoken form? When you get bits and pieces about corner threes or whatever, consider how much more detail you honestly want, in-game. If we haven't reduced the most exciting and beautiful sport on the planet to statistics and accountancy, we've failed, right?
Now let's turn to "Homerism", Scourge of NBA Broadcasting. As I see it, impartiality is for national crews with national audiences. Honestly what do we owe the, say, Charlotte Hornet fans who might be listening to the Houston feed? Anything? The Houston announcers are Rockets employees, so there's no journalistic integrity to uphold here. Acting as though a basketball broadcast crew should be torch bearers for ideals (now largely vanished in the serious media) about journalism strikes me as misguided.
Do you really want to hear Bill Worrell say "Wow, what a great shot from Klay Thompson. Give him credit, he's really wearing out of the Rockets right now. James Harden is great, but you know, Klay Thompson looks like some sort statue made out of, you guessed it, Modeling Klay, and while he looks sort of unfinished compared to most other humans, it is a charming and precious effect, in its way." Well, I wouldn't mind that. Anyway.
So you bought League Pass, or you're watching on NBAtv. This makes you either a person living away from the team you love, in which case you probably don't care about a homer crew, or a sick sick basketball junkie. (Or both) Either way it is likely that you know the League Pass drill. Mostly you get your home team crew, sometimes other crews. National broadcast teams are for TNT, and ESPN which are big money productions. But consider TNT. Currently it is a platform for endless Charles Barkley axe grinding on the Rockets over what I take to be a 20 year old lawsuit he lost. Honestly, the Rockets get more respect from Mavericks announcers, than the "impartial" TNT broadcast, between Barkley whingeing and Shaq's weird obsession with Dwight Howard.
Back to League Pass Addicts - it seems as though the particular and tiresome "homer" beef originates with people on Twitter and other internet spots who watch a lot of games on League Pass with no rooting interest in the teams playing. I honestly enjoy making fun of the other team's homer broadcasters, and expect they do the same with ours. And what's the harm,just part of the fun, right? So Zach Lowe doesn't like it that Houston's crew loves Houston? Tough luck, Zach. Nobody is going to love Houston for us, believe me.
Q - Do you know which teams typically have really informed and non-homer announcers?
A - Terrible teams.
That's because the only real reason to watch them is to see a better team play basketball. It is imperative to find something mildly interesting about the game to fill a couple of hours, and odds are the Timberwolves aren't supplying it. There's only so much you can say about Zach Levine's shot selection improving slightly.
I also find that most "unbiased" crews are actually biased in a sort of passive-aggressive way. They're often relentlessly whiny when things go against their team. These crews are happy to be magnanimous (rather than unbiased) when their team is winning, not so much in a loss. A loss indicates some sort of tragic miscarriage of justice, if you read the subtext that slowly transforms itself into "the text" in these games. That's fine, but as a Texan, I hate passive aggressive whining a good deal more than outright saltiness. The Rockets crew, being two Texans and one guy who seems to have embraced the identity, are fairly direct. Their complaints are in boldface, not italics. But they're also genial about it. They don't hate your team. Much.
If I had one real complaint, it is that I would like the Rockets broadcast crew to be better informed, about opponents, about the NBA in general. That seems like it should come with the job. They are generally pretty well informed about the Rockets, but that's not enough. It wouldn't hurt to add some youthful elements to the broadcast team, but with the shakeups and bankruptcy, and so forth, I am simply glad the games are being presented to Houston in a professional manner.
In the end, I'm really happy to be living in a time where I can live tucked away in the upper left corner of the USA and still see the Rockets, and ads for HEB with JJ Watt.