Every Tuesday, Turner Sports allows NBA fans worldwide to decide which game will be broadcast — in glorious high definition — nation-wide on their basketball-only network, NBA TV. “Fan Night” is the channel’s most overt catering to the game’s faithful, and a nice treat for basketball fans that, for whatever reason, opt not to invest in the full NBA League Pass package.
Only this past Tuesday, a technical difficulty gave NBA fans a nice — if brief — gift of a different kind. When Ernie Johnson, back in the NBA TV studio, attempted to throw the call of the Fan Night game to Neil Funk and Stacey King in Chicago, we were left only with the beautiful, organic sounds of the game itself:
The NBA’s play-by-play men and color commentators do a good job of keeping casual viewers informed as to what’s going on in the game and analyzing performances in progress, but for NBA TV’s Fan Night — which makes its target audience clear up front — I wonder if this isn’t something we should see (well, hear) for a full game every week. NBA fans generally don’t need to be told that Josh Smith is the player who just clanged a long jumper, or that Derrick Rose is that blurred speedster running down the lane. They know the names and faces of the game, but because of the format of the standard NBA broadcast, basketball’s organic rhythms are reserved solely for those lucky enough to sit in the lower bowl of the arena and limited to whatever sounds permeate the blaring arena music and P.A. prompts for “DE-FENSE.”
All of these presentational elements have their place and purpose, and I’m not suggesting that they be taken away from the regular game experience. Simply that on this one night a week, in which NBA TV surrenders its programming power to fans, that those same fans are allowed to experience the game on a more intimate, natural level.
Let’s hear the sneaker squeaks. Let’s hear that chatty Bulls defense communicating after every action. Let’s hear Carlos Boozer’s expletive after giving up an easy bucket to Josh Smith. Hell, let’s even hear the metronomic sound of a bouncing ball. This is what basketball sounds like, and it would do fans of the game — on their night, no less — good to hear that hardwood symphony a bit more regularly.