Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It's Late February - Must Be Time For Basketball

I'm on vacation this week, which means that once the wife goes to bed around eleven, I have at least three or four hours of quality TV time remaining. Tonight, a slow night on the movie channels and an unwillingness to tolerate ESPN programming led me to take drastic measures: for the first time all season, I turned on a Celtics game.

NBA basketball is probably my fourth favorite sport to watch, so this isn't entirely unusual for me. The pattern was probably similar last year - college football ended, then the NFL ended, then I decompressed for awhile, then I checked out the C's once in a while.

And this will sound weird and a bit ungrateful, but I sort of miss that team. Yeah, they were so terrible that Paul Pierce was practically fine-tuning his resume on the bench during games, and pretty much the entire world accused them of tanking down the stretch to have a better chance at a high draft pick, and the average age at the end of the season was about 21, but there was something likeable about the team, a sense that while these kids may not know exactly what they're doing right now, watch out when they put it all together, 'cause they'll be tough to handle.

Of course, Danny Ainge traded every youngster except Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins in the offseason, and two of those guys - Delonte West and Gerald Green - have been dealt again, so maybe I'm just a huge, unknowledgeable homer. Entirely possible, if not probable.

Anyway, it's easy to see that the 2007-08 Celtics are a pretty good team, even without looking at the won-lost record (a league-best 42-12 heading into tonight's game). It's obvious just from watching them play - when I turned the game on, the lead over the Clippers was single digits; by the end of the third quarter, they were up twenty.

None of this is the reason I originally decided to post about the Celtics tonight, however. The real reason I opened up Blogger and began furiously typing was that I realized something in the third quarter: when the time comes for Tommy Heinsohn to hang up his microphone for good, I am going to miss him A LOT.

Heinsohn isn't working this game, which I think I mentioned at Awful Announcing before the season started. If memory serves (and it'll have to, because I'm not looking stuff up right now; how irresponsible of me), he has back trouble that tends to bother him more on cross-country trips (so he usually skips the West Coast swings) and his wife had some health problems that require him to stay close to home. Anyway, whatever the reason, he's not calling the game.

His replacement, Donny Marshall, is good at what he does. He played in the NBA, knows what he's talking about, and doesn't talk just to hear his own voice (yes, I got all of this from watching about fifteen minutes of game time). But there was a play in the third quarter, where Kevin Garnett missed a shot, got his own rebound, and fed Ray Allen for an easy two, where I wanted me some Tommy.

Mike Gorman and Marshall low-keyed the call - if one was listening instead of watching, it wouldn't have seemed like anything special (and it really wasn't - a nice play, but not highlight reel quality), just a bucket that extended the lead by two more points. Thing is, though, that as it unfolded, I found myself getting more and more hyped - my brain knew that Heinsohn wasn't there to go nuts over the play, but my body was still expecting Allen to lay it in and Tommy to lose his mind - only to ultimately be let down when the shot fell and the players trotted back to the other end of the floor.

This is why Tommy Heinsohn is my favorite announcer: like Gus Johnson, he has the ability to make any play in any game feel like Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Is he a blatant homer? Absolutely - it's one of the things I love about him. Is he loud? Without question. Do I care? Hell no. Guys like Donny Marshall are good, but I'm going to miss Tommy Heinsohn when he's gone.

1 Comment:

Eric (Extra P.) said...

The very thought of getting on an airplane with back trouble makes me wince. I don't blame him.