ESPN has been known to pull announcer stunts before (see Dick Vitale on NBA games) and they followed the same model on Friday night. The Sports Guy, Bill Simmons, was added as a color commentator to the Heat-Warriors telecast along with Dan Shulman and Mark Jackson. Though the haters brought their criticism, I thought Simmons did fine.
At first he brought a really genuine feeling to the telecast joking he was excited the Bulls-Lakers game didn’t go into overtime because he was excited to do his “stand-up” introduction to the game. Simmons got in a few Steve Kerr references, one of which was regarding Carlos Arroyo’s role on the team. He brought his typical humor when talking about Reggie Williams saying he made the list of Top 75 D-League stories and that Dorell Wright was “playing like a spurned girlfriend.”
Simmons seemed to be most comfortable picking on the little guys. In addition to Dorell Wright and Reggie Williams, Dan Gadzuric was one of his targets. He pointed out something most announcers wouldn’t touch, that Gadzuric is playing harder now that he’s going to be a free agent than he was in Milwaukee where he had a nice contract. Also, he mentioned that the story about players lacking confidence in Erik Spoelstra likely came from LeBron’s camp, something else most announcers wouldn’t be bold enough to say.
Aside from the jokes here and there, Simmons wasn’t overwhelming. He didn’t overtake the telecast and drown out Mark Jackson or Dan Shulman by talking constantly. Additionally, he knew when to get out of the way of the play-by-play man when action was going on and continue his stories later.
Most of the criticism of Simmons centered around one issue: his voice. Folks on twitter complained that Simmons’ voice is too high pitched and too feminine sounding. Maybe it’s because I’m a radio host who wasn’t blessed with golden pipes, but that didn’t bother me at all. Content-wise he was good, and he was technically sound. Now the only question is why ESPN put him on a Heat game; Miami draws eyeballs regardless of the announcers — they would have been better served using him on a game with less interest because he is a draw himself.Google+