Atlanta. 4th of July weekend, 2010. I’ve spent the last few days scouring over NBA stat sheets, standings, player bios & salary figures. From across his apartment, my friend CJ yells out “Shaquille O’Neal.” We’ve been playing out this routine on and off since I arrived so I quickly respond, “12 points, 6 rebounds.” The reason for such shenanigans? I’m preparing for a meeting with TNT’s Vice President of Production. My brain is filled with info like Jamario Moon attended Meridian Community College, Ben Gordon’s scoring average dropped from 20 ppg last year with the Bulls to 14 ppg this year with the Pistons, and Brook Lopez (the one without the afro) averaged just under 19 points and 9 rebounds for the league’s worst team, New Jersey.
Before I know it, Monday is here and I’m passing through the security gate at the Turner Broadcasting campus. Gorgeous. Massive. I could get used to this. A quick dap to CJ as I step out of his car and onto Turner territory. Before I can put my tie on, up walks Howard Zalkowitz. He’s a big deal, google him. As distinguished as his career is, Howard’s welcoming nature is even more noteworthy (which is saying a lot). After touring TNT’s studios and checking out the viewing room where Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and Ernie Johnson Jr. watch countless NBA games, we take the elevator up to Howard’s office. As we defy gravity, I can’t help but hear the words to Drake’s “Unforgettable” in my head (I’m looking forward to the memories of right now, never forgetting from where I came and no matter where I’m headed, I promise to stay the same). Soon, I’m sitting across from a man who I’m hoping is my future boss. One question in particular is the reason why, a week later, I’m sitting in front of my computer writing this. Howard asked, “So, when did you catch the broadcasting bug?” Immediately, flashes of my childhood sped through my mind. Playing basketball against my older brother Scott in the driveway, giving play by play broadcasts of my video games on Super Nintendo, and watching Bob Costas and Ahmad Rashad host triple-header, telethon-long NBA on NBC broadcasts are all contained in my flashbacks. The answer is D, none of the above.
It all starts with a black and white TV. The picture? Fuzzy at best. Rabbit ears so delicate one wrong move could ruin your night. However, I certainly wasn’t going to complain. I was a 1st grader who just happened to love watching the San Diego Padres play. Or maybe I loved hearing their announcer Jerry Coleman describe action which my eyes couldn’t always make out. To this day, Coleman’s trademark ‘Oh doctor, you can hang a star on that one’ line brings back memories of Tony Gwynn and Roberto Alomar. For me, it marks the beginning of my love for sports broadcasting. Back then, I had no idea of the significance Coleman’s calls would have on my future. Heck, I was still wearing 1-piece, zip-up pajamas with the feet sown in.
Yet, I’m still grateful for his work and that funky, little, moody TV. I’m 32 years old now and currently work for the FOX affiliate in San Antonio. No matter what my next career move is, I’ll continue to cover sports with a youthful exuberance while respecting the subjects I’m speaking for and about. One day, young boys and girls will escape to their rooms and turn on their flat screen TV’s to watch me put in work. Inspired by my broadcasts, they’ll imagine themselves sitting in my place at the anchor-desk. Then, and only then, my work will be done. Well, unless I still got it. In which case, they’ll have to come take my spot.