25 Years: Some Things Change, Passion Remains
Another season begins Wednesday night, as the Pacers open preseason play with a game against Minnesota in Fargo. And while I’m disappointed that the NBA still hasn’t seen fit to slot the Pacers in for 82 home games, I feel fortunate that my ever-loyal doppleganger zealously guards The Fortress of Solitude while I’m away.
This is the beginning of my 25th season with the team, and it’s sometimes hard for me to grasp that I’ve spent almost half my life broadcasting games here. When I arrived in 1988, some of the players on the team were younger than I was and some were older. After a few seasons, I was older than everyone on the team, a few years after that I was older than any player in the league, and a few years after that I was old enough to be almost every player’s dad.
Now, I’m old enough that there are three players on the current roster that weren’t even born when I started with the team.
Things have changed a lot over the years. In my time, we’ve gone through ten head coaches, dozens of assistants, and countless players. The team has changed logos, uniform designs (three times), and arenas. Of the buildings that housed teams back then, only four are still in use, and one of those—Oracle Arena in Oakland—has been renovated. Ronald Reagan was president, the Internet hadn’t been conceived, almost every team flew commercial (I do miss those frequent flyer miles), and the Kardashians and Snooky had yet to take annoyance to an unprecedented level.
But a few things haven’t changed. My passion for this job is just as fervent as it was back then, and I’ve been fortunate that it’s never wavered, regardless of whether or not the team was any good. The Simons still own the team, and it’s been my good fortune to work for people that not only care about what we do, they give us the resources and commitment to do it properly.
There are some things that wear on me, but that’s true of every job. In recent seasons, the trend has been to move the broadcasts upstairs, and while most teams try to accommodate us there are some that put us in locations that make the broadcasts difficult to do well. And I’ve been around long enough to see the NBA transition into a corporate behemoth, which admittedly benefits us in a variety of ways, though I still cringe at the many unfortunate developments that corporatization inevitably brings.
There will no doubt come a day where my passion for this work wanes, or, if it doesn’t, a day will come when I lack the physical stamina or mental acuity to perform at an acceptable standard. If it’s the former, I can only hope to find something that captivates and satisfies me the way broadcasting games does. If it’s the latter, I hope I’m able to leave gracefully rather than hang on like grim death, but if I can’t I hope one of you will track me down and shoot me. Please.
Until then, it remains my privilege to broadcast games for a franchise that is stellar in every regard and for a fan base that has been far kinder to me that I had any right to expect or even hope for.
I wouldn’t mind shooting for another 25.