I am a pro sports team agnostic. College sports? These veins pump the Black and Gold of the University of Iowa, and have since the days of Dr. Tom and Troy ‘Go Back to Palmer’ Skinner. But pro sports? I do not, and never really have, had a pro sports team to call my own.
When I was young, I was a Bulls fan, because who didn’t want to be like Mike? As I got a little older and I explored my first bout with Hipster-itis, I jumped off the Bulls bandwagon and became a Suns fan. Really, I was a Charles Barkley fan (with the Black replica Suns jersey to prove it). I have a hazy memory of Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals, my older brother (a hipster he is not) running from the other room to celebrate the Bulls’ victory and me, all of 7 years old, doing some combination of a clothes line/cross body suplex to shut him up (note: it didn’t work).
Reggie Miller and the Pacers followed (shout out to NBA Live 95 for helping me learn the starting lineup). I moved on quickly to Allen Iverson (although I once wore a Superman t-shirt during warm-ups of a Freshman basketball game as an homage to Reggie in his 2000 first round series against the Bucks). Gilbert Arenas stole my heart in the mid-2000s and kept it, even after he brought guns into the locker room and I used a first round fantasy draft pick on him the year he played 13 games. We’ll always have Hibachi, Agent 0.
My adult years, however, have shifted the focus from idolizing certain players and following all of their personal quirks, to choosing which game to watch on League Pass based on the announcing teams.
As an agnostic, the abject homerism of some of the League Pass Announcing Teams (LPATs from here on on out) renders some teams completely unwatchable. I don’t care if James Harden has scored 98 points with 4 minutes left. I am not watching a Houston Rockets broadcast. Tim Duncan could check into the lineup in his coaching attire and start hitting bank shots like it’s 2002 and I would prefer to keep watching the Nets vs. Hornets game on Yes Network.
Your typical League Pass rankings focus on things like watchability, how good the team is, star power, young players, etc. Occasionally, they give a hat tip to the announcing team. The implication here is that everyone who is a fan of the NBA has a favorite team, and the League Pass rankings are used to find said fan a ‘second team’ to follow on nights off. But what about us favorite team agnostics?
I present below a definitive ranking of League Pass teams to watch, based only on the LPATs. But what about quality of play? It’s the NBA, they’re all better than whatever college game might be on. You don’t care about star power? I would actually watch my 7 year old niece’s games if Ian Eagle, Sarah Kustok and Richard Jefferson were on the mics, instead of just pretending.
The Nets broadcast is so good that even if the A team isn’t on, they are still better than every other team on this list. Oh, Ian Eagle is off doing an NFL game? In steps Ryan Ruocco. Sarah Kustok needs a day off? We’ll just throw Richard Jefferson on. They had CC Sabathia join Ruocco and Kustok for a preseason game against the Celtics and the three of them made better chemistry than Walter White and Jesse Pinkman.
The Top Tier
New York Knicks
What makes this group so special is the varying styles. Whether you like your announcers to try and rhyme every word, use obscure Canadian towns to indicate the distance of a 3 point shot, or have intelligent discussions about analytics during a live broadcast, you can’t go wrong with any of these three. There’s a 66% chance the level of basketball will leave you wishin’ for an intermission, but at least you won’t be watching from Kitchener.
Good, Not Great
The Trailblazers are here based on Kevin Calabro, who is not doing games this year so they might very easily move down into the next tier. Grant Napear with the Kings had one of the more memorable LPAT catch phrases with his, ‘If you don’t like that, you don’t like Kings basketball!’ line. Then he turned out to be an All Lives Matter pud. His replacement, Mark Jones, keeps the Kings here because his 3-point call (‘Butter’) gives me Hoover Middle School playground nostalgia.
The Meaty Part of the Curve
New Orleans Pelicans
Golden State Warriors
These are in no particular order. Most LPATs have the same staffing pattern: Old white guy doing play-by-play, ex-player as the color commentator. These teams are the epitome of that boring choice. Some of them are slightly better than others. The Pelicans team talks so fast I had to check and make sure I wasn’t watching on 1.5X speed. That’s about the only interesting thing to say about any of these LPATs.
Not Great, Bob
Oklahoma City Thunder
San Antonio Spurs
The Wizards are here mostly just because they got rid of Steve Buckhantz last year. Justin Kutcher and Drew Gooden are penalized for decisions made before they arrived. The Celtics lose Tommy Heinsohn (RIP) and you just know Bill Simmons is lobbying every old white guy in charge to let him call games remotely. I’d rather let Tony Parker alone in a room with my wife for 30 minutes than listen to Sean Elliott.
An incomplete list of things I would rather do besides listen to the Rockets LPAT:
Make out with the guy from Philadelphia after he ate the horse shit
Pull a Jeffery Toobin, but on a Christmas Zoom with the in-laws
Marry Joe Exotic
Watch my parents have sex