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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Man Behind The Mic

Joe Tait. I don't think there's anybody who can truly appreciate this post but myself, my brother, and perhaps other Cleveland Cavaliers fans around the globe... but Joe Tait is and always has been one of the best radio announcers in the NBA, behind perhaps Marv Albert and a couple of others. (Jim Donovan of the Browns is one of the best in the NFL as well, if not the best. Cleveland may be cursed when it comes to sports, but at least we can hear it all too well when it happens.)

For years, the Cavs had an owner named Gordon Gund, who would not watch the games, but only listen to them through Tait. Gund was blind - yet Tait's announcing was so incredible, he was able to perfectly imagine everything that was happening in his head. Tait has never been the type to just say, "And Pippen dribbles... Jordan shoots... good!" With Tait, you always know what's happening on the floor:
"Price dribbles it up with his right hand into the frontcourt against Armstrong between the circles into the right-wing. Daugherty posting up against Perdue. Price passes it over Armstrong into Hot Rod on the right side near the baseline, working against Pippen. Hot Rod stops, backs in a couple of steps, and passes cross-court over Daugherty to Ehlo just inside the three-point line on the left side. Shot clock at 11. Ehlo works on Jordan, dribbling facing the basket, now dumps it into Nance at the edge of the paint who spins past Grant to the baseline, Perdue comes over to help, shot clock at 4, Nance throws it out of the double-team to Price at the top of the arc, shot clock at 2, Mark Price for threeeeeeee.... GOT IT! Mark. Price. for THREE! And the Cavs lead...!"
Ah... the memories. Have a good night, evvverybody!

UPDATE: My brother also notes... For true fans, the most important aspect of Tait is that he is the most accurate announcer of the game, even in terms of excitement. He doesn't embellish games to make them sound exciting when they're not, he doesn't make up anything or make something sound more amazing than it was. He announces the game. Period. He's insightful, he knows the game, and he brings out aspects of the game you might not notice, even as he's announcing (or more often, during timeouts or right before or after a break). Plus, he's an incredibly nice guy, is a regular guy who can and does make mistakes, is pleasant to listen to (even SIL who hates basketball by now likes listening to him!), and is willing to send regards from a young kid at a game in Milwaukee back to his folks in Cleveland. :)

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