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Oct 12 2013

Collins-the-announcer will be like Collins-the-coach

Doug Collins

Collins is a brilliant basketball strategist, but unlike a lot of guys who know the game, the former Chicago and Detroit coach is able to convey that knowledge without being condescending. If he can learn to laugh a little, he’ll join John Madden, Dick Vitale and Joe Morgan at the top of the analyst list.” ~Baltimore Sun, 1999.

Doug Collins was, and still is, considered one of the best broadcasters in the business, which is why he was hired as an analyst for ESPN’s NBA Countdown. He’ll replace Michael Wilbon and work alongside Bill Simmons, Jalen Rose, and (sometimes) Doris Burke on a revamped crew.

It’s certainly not a downgrade. Hate him or love him, Collins is as charismatic as they come. He won over Philadelphia as a player, re-won the city as a head coach, and gained the respect of television viewers around the country in between. He understands the game in ways that few others do, and as noted above, he can eloquently convey that knowledge to the masses. He’s also been around the game for a half-century, as a player, coach, and Olympian. He has seen it all.

But that doesn’t cut it anymore. At least, not like it did a decade ago. Not for this blogger.

Television viewers and basketball fans – well, some of them – have evolved. They’re more informed, and less susceptible to the sports punditry’s clichés. The long-two-loving, science-hating Collins, however, has not. His adherence to tradition is part of the reason why he’s no longer in the NBA.

The analysts cited in the aforementioned Baltimore Sun article – John Madden, Dick Vitale, and Joe Morgan – were once, actually, viewed as the cream of the crop. But they stuck with what worked, and turned into symbols of bad sports announcing. Morgan, in fact, was the inspiration behind a popular website devoted to exposing terrible sports journalism.

Collins’ reputation as a broadcaster is still intact; perhaps, even to some of the Sixers fans fed up with his coaching antics. But he’s in danger of suffering the same fate (to a lesser extent) as Madden, Vitale, and Morgan. If the 62-year-old doesn’t adapt in the booth, those frustrated by Collins-the-coach will grow equally frustrated by Collins-the-announcer. Especially, if he ever starts ranting about hero ball or the hot hand the importance of preventing turnovers. This isn’t 1999 anymore.