There are going to be a lot of weird things about the upcoming 2023-24 NBA season. Seeing Chris Paul in a Warriors jersey, wherever Dame goes, the new look Suns superteam, Porzingis in Celtics green and Marcus Smart in Grizzlies Blue, Fred VanVleet as a Rocket, the list goes on and on.
Near the top of that list though is going to be ESPN/ABCs primetime broadcasts. The trio of Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, and Mark Jackson got the official nod for the NBA Primetime gig back in 2016, but they called games together well before then. Over the last 7 seasons though, when you thought of a big game in the NBA, that was the trio that came with it. Once JVG got let go from ESPN last month it didn't just suck for him, it meant one of the best NBA broadcasting trios was over as well.
The question then became if Jackson and Van Gundy are out, who's taking their place? I feel like Doris Burke was a given, and for that final chair there were rumors of JJ Redick, Kendrick Perkins, Richard Jefferson etc. A name I didn't consider was someone like Doc.
People may only think of Doc the coach, but after he got fired from the Magic back in 2004 he came over and joined Al Michaels for the rest of the year calling games on ABC. While he may have some issues as a head coach, I've always enjoyed Doc either calling games or just talking basketball in general. He turns into a way more charismatic person when he's not in charge of running a team, and given his playing experience and coaching experience, he isn't the worst option. Who knows if he'd be as good 19 years later, but I imagine the suits at ESPN would want a big name to bring in eyeballs, and I think Doc would do that initially. Whether or not the broadcast works is an entirely different story.
I think that's going to be the weirdest part of next season. No matter how good whatever new trio they throw out there is, they aren't Breen/JVG/Jackson. It's hard to follow legends, and in the same way no other combination can replicate what the original guys do on Inside The NBA, I imagine the same is going to be true with the primetime broadcasts. Change isn't always bad, but it isn't always good either. Even if Mark Jackson might not know what the hell he's talking about half the time, that trio worked. JVG was the grouchy old guy, Mark Jackson was the guy saying outrageous shit, and Mike Breen was the true pro holding it all together. It's going to suck not getting those three every Sunday/for the NBA Finals.
Thankfully though, we're still going to be getting Mike Breen "BANG!" calls which at the end of the day are truly what matters in these games. Fun banter is cool and all, but Mike Breen is why I watch. There's no better feeling when one of those "BANGS!" falls for your favorite team and when it goes against you? That's a shot right to the heart. Nothing worse.