If something happens in the world of sports media that you absolutely have to know about—ESPN anchors swilling vodka straight from the bottle, play-by-play announcers making incendiary comments on the air, Joe Buck being Joe Buck—you can bet that Awful Announcing will be all over it before most anyone else.
We’re pleased to give you 10 questions with Awful Announcing’s Brian Powell.
Empty the Bench: What initially led you to launch Awful Announcing and what were your main goals of the site? Has that changed over the years?
Brian Powell: Well, the original goal was to just create something that I could use as an outlet to vent some of my frustration regarding the Sports World and various announcers. I never had aspirations of doing it full time or even having readers outside my friends and family.
After gaining a handful of loyal readers early on, the goal changed to just giving people things they hadn’t seen anywhere else. I also wanted the site to be a place where people could go and comment about whatever they wanted to. I know there are some people who like Joe Buck, and while I think they’re all insane, they still had/have a place to express their opinions on the matter.
Even after I started writing it as my full-time job I don’t think that line of thinking has changed. I think most readers respect the honesty and transparency of the site. If someone disputes something that I’ve said they know exactly how to get in touch with me. More often than not I’ll give them a chance to explain themselves.
ETB: You worked for the Washington Wizards in early 2003. Any memorable stories to share?
Powell: I’ve got a few of them, but my favorite was sneaking into the press conference that announced the signing of Gilbert Arenas. The crazy thing about the situation was that I was chided just before it for arguing with a season-ticket holder. A guy was thinking about canceling his package because of the way the team handled the Jordan situation, and I jumped on him for being a fair-weather fan.
I was just fed up with the state of DC fans, and told the guy he was an idiot for wanting a 40-year-old waste of space over someone who “will get us to the playoffs.” My supervisor told me to walk it off and I found myself following a group of people into the media room where Gilbert was speaking.
I walked up to Arenas and quickly gave him a rundown of the story and he smiled and responded, “He’ll be back on board soon. Don’t worry.” I guarantee that someone else got my commission when that guy signed back up a year later.
Other fun times included but we’re not limited to: watching practice in the (then) MCI Center at lunch, riding in an elevator with Ernie Grunfeld and Eddie Jordan, and getting Juan Dixon to sign the MD jersey I wore when they won the [NCAA] championship.
Much more from Awful Announcing’s Brian Powell after the break…
ETB: Who’s your favorite local crew for calling NBA games?
Powell: My all-time favorite crew was Kevin Calabro and Craig Ehlo on Sonics games. The two just loved their jobs, knew their basketball, and had a great rapport with each other. The team was also horrible then and you could tell that they still just loved the game of basketball. It’s really a shame that Calabro is staying in Seattle and not following the team to Oklahoma City.
Other faves out there include: Marv Albert (Nets), Mike Breen/Gus Johnson and Walt Frazier (Knicks), Tommy Heinsohn (Celtics), Chris Marlowe and Scott Hastings (Denver), and of course Steve Buckhantz and Phil Chenier of the Wizards (homer pick).
ETB: Which on-air announcing blunder from the past NBA season sticks out in your mind as one of the absolute worst (or best, depending on your point of view)?
Powell: Best: I absolutely loved–loved–Kevin Harlan’s “Lebron James! With NO REGARD for human life!!!” One of the best calls on a dunk, ever. I also really enjoyed Marv Albert and Reggie Miller together for the first time. The best exchanges between those two had to be Miller’s use of the word “titty” and Albert trying to explain who “Soulja Boy” was.
Worst: Some of Jeff Van Gundy’s ideas to better the game were just unbearable to hear and ESPN’s coverage of the NBA Draft. That was the worst live telecast I’ve ever witnessed. Other than those it was a pretty great season.
ETB: Name your three-man dream team crew for the NBA Finals. Why those picks?
Powell: Tough question, and I don’t know if I could come up with a third who is currently announcing. I’d probably try to coax Steve Kerr out of retirement and put him with Marv Albert and Bill Walton. I’ve learned to love Walton over the years and love when he calls people out. If you add a legend and a stats guy, I think you have the perfect trio.
ETB: Awful Announcing’s “Create a Caption” posts are some of the site’s most popular content. Which is one of your all-time favorites and why?
Powell: Oh man, another tough question. I started them when I didn’t have anything to write about and people started asking for more of them. The best ones are the quotes that come out of nowhere and the photos that I think nobody will care about. The one that got the most out of hand was by far the West Virginia one, but my favorite was the Tim Tebow pearls edition.
I know it’s not an original concept but the AA commenters hit it out of the park every single day and I continue to be amazed.
ETB: The best all-time play-by-play announcer in any professional sport is…
Powell: Man, I’m such a nerd with this stuff that I break it up into categories, but I would have to put Harry Caray, Keith Jackson, Mel Allen, Marv Albert, Curt Gowdy, and Vin Scully on the short list (all for different reasons of course).
Oh, and I almost forgot… WWF’s Jim Ross.
ETB: Bigger trainwreck on camera: Scottie Pippen or Emmitt Smith?
Powell: I really loved both of them as players, but neither should ever go near a microphone again. If I had to pick though I would say Pippen. Emmitt looks like he wants to be there and is actually trying, but Pippen was downright surly and disinterested. It’s a photo finish though.
ETB: You are kidnapped and forced to share a 20×20 room with either Mike Breen or Joe Buck calling four successive games. Who would you choose and why?
Powell: I’d have to pick Mike Breen. The funny thing is that I’ve liked them both at one point or another. I hated Breen at first, but I enjoy him now and the exact opposite is the case for Buck. I don’t know what happened to him, but somewhere along the way the “humble train” derailed for Joseph.
ETB: “Erin Andrews” (from ESPN) is the most popular tag on Awful Announcing. What’s with the undying fascination with her, and will it ever end?
Powell: Well, first of all she’s pretty darn attractive. She’s not “the end all to be all,” but when you also add that she’s good at what she does and she knows sports, it’s really a no-brainer that so many people are attracted to her. With that said, I think her fifteen minutes are close to running out. It naturally happens on the Internet because people get bored, but more because she’s pretty boring on her own. I’ve read about fifty interviews with her and her answers never change.
She really should focus on getting more in-depth interviews, like the Jon Lester one following his no-hitter.
Recommended Reading at Awful Announcing:
– Boy This Sure Is Heavy (SNAP!)
– Chris Mortensen Knows Nothing About Football And Other Highlights From Your 2008 ESPN “Celebrity” Draft!
– Sean Salisbury Vents On ESPN, The Cell Phone Incident And Being A “Ladies Man”
– Scott Van Pelt’s Message Board Conundrum
– Erin Andrews Was A Clubhouse Distraction For The Cubs Last Night
More ETB’s Scribes of the NBA Interview Series:
– J.E. Skeets of Yahoo!’s Ball Don’t Lie
– David Friedman of 20 Second Timeout
– Ron Hitley of Hornets 24/7
– Ryne “Odenized” Nelson of SLAMonline
– Tom Ziller of Sactown Royalty and FanHouse
– Brett Hainline of Queen City Hoops
– Dave Deckard of Blazer’s Edge
– Kurt of Forum Blue and Gold
– Brian Powell of Awful Announcing
– Lee Grammier of The Dream Shake
– Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead
– Scott Carefoot of Raptor Blog
– Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Part 1
– Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Part 2
– Matt Watson of AOL FanHouse and Detroit Bad Boys
– Natalie Sitto of Need4Sheed.com