Robert Frost once wrote “I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew. Writing a poem is discovering.”

Just like the movie, the Suns will trade places with the Kings in back-to-back games starting Tuesday night. 

(NBAE Photos)

While I certainly draw no comparisons between Frost’s great works (Google The Road Less Traveled if his name is new to you) and the television broadcasts I produce or direct, I feel the same way about each game. The first 10 minutes of each broadcast is pretty much scripted. When I meet with the announcers and other production team members each morning, we talk about what topics to cover at the top of the show. In tonight’s game against Sacramento (8:00 pm, FSN AZ), we will:

  • recap the Suns offensive explosion at Houston
  • look at Grant Hill and his assimilation into the Suns’ fast style of play
  • highlight Brian Skinnner’s defensive prowess of late
  • give you a look at young Sacramento shooting guard Kevin Martin who is 2nd in the NBA in scoring

Once the referee tosses the ball up at 8:10, not one person in the building or watching at home has any idea what will happen. What will the storylines be? Who will carry the scoring load? Will Steve Nash dish out another 15 assists for the 3rd straight game? As Frost said, it is truly discovering.

One thing we discovered last season is how much we enjoyed swapping analysts from other teams with Eddie Johnson and Dan Majerle. Our Saturday broadcast from Houston was our first opportunity this year to make our trade. As Tom Leander wrote on his blog last season, the idea to trade announcers is one that had been used in baseball from time to time over the years but was new to hoops. When I started asking other producers around the NBA if they would be interested in participating in a “trading places” scenario with us prior to last season, many were uncertain how it would work. By December, teams were contacting me to ask if we would like to make the announcer trades when we came to play them.

Houston’s Matt Bullard was this year’s first trade – Dan Majerle for Matt Bullard would never get the commissioner’s blessing when they were players – but Matt was fantastic in his 2 segments with Tom Leander. He gave us some great insight into the changes implemented by new coach Rick Adelman, the expectations mounting with year 4 of Yao and T-Mac together in Houston (and still no playoff series wins) and the return of Steve Francis to his all-star roots. He also had some great observations on the Suns – a fresh perspective on Nash, Stat, Trix and the fellas – not to mention his excitement in watching Eric Piatkowski drain a couple of threes.

It’s something we’ll continue to do this year. The first 2 segments of the 2nd quarter is our usual spot. We have already brokered deals for Jerry Reynolds (Eddie Johnson’s former coach) on Wednesday night when the Kings come to Phoenix and hall of famer Walt Frazier when we get to New York on December 2nd. Walt was the MVP of the first NBA All-Star game in Phoenix in 1975, so he should have some good memories to share of that game as we discuss the 2009 game that Phoenix will host.

And an update on LB and his 80s movies – he loved Trading Places (big thumbs up, man!), so now I have to rifle through my DVD collection to see what should come next. I think I might steer him through the John Hughes collection (Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Weird Science, Ferris Buhler’s Day Off) but I’m open to suggestions.

One final note – please leave your feedback below. Although all of us in the broadcast department work very diligently to put together entertaining broadcasts, we don’t do it in a vacuum. If you have ideas to share, please do so.

Let the discovering begin!

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