The whole point of this site is to get people on board with the fire Jon Barry because he sucks movement. I think it’s clear why Jon Barry sucks as an announcer, but wanted to delve deeper into what makes an announcer great, and why Jon Barry fails so completely. I think it’s possible to do an objective analysis of something that, at first glance, might be subjective, such as “what makes an NBA announcer great” (or, in the case of Jon Barry, “what makes an NBA announcer suck”).
I have developed criteria to evaluate announcers using six different categories. It is my belief that Jon Barry is at the bottom of the list in all six categories, which is impressive/amazing. We’ll call it NBA Announcing Six Sigma. I didn’t start this process by asking “what does Jon Barry suck at,” I started it by asking “What makes an announcer great?” I ended up at the same place though.
It’s actually kind of amazing that Jon Barry sucks in every one of these categories. I continue to be astonished that he has a job announcing NBA games. Plus, he is paid a shit-ton of money to do it.
The six criteria that we can use to evaluate an announcer are: Accuracy, Insight, Communication, Joy, and Sense of Humor.
Most announcers would score highly on a few of these. The best announcers score well on all of them. I submit to you, fellow Jon Barry haters, that Jon Barry brings up the bottom of every single one of these categories, or at least ties Reggie Miller for the worst in each of them. Again, astonishing.
The Six Sigma of NBA Announcing
Accuracy – Does the announcer pronounce names correctly? Have they done their homework on the team? Do they talk about the things that have changed recently for the team, or do they simply parrot the outdated national narrative for the team? Usually play-by-play guys, like Mike Breen, nail this category, as that is what they are really supposed to do, but color guys should also be able to pronounce names and know the ends of the benches for every team they cover. This seems like a basic, fundamental part of being an announcer, and it helps separate those that do their homework from those that don’t.
Insight – Is the announcer able to see things before they happen? Do they talk about the gameplan? Do they talk about what is working or not working from a basketball coaching perspective? Do they explain why something is or isn’t working? Do they understand the philosophy of the team? Do they only explain their personal experience, over and over, without learning or growing to explain more? Part of what I am looking for when i watch an NBA broadcast is to learn more than I knew before the broadcast started about the strategy of playing basketball. Hubie Brown and JVG are both at the top of the heap in this category.
Communication – Is the announcer able to explain things in a way that is clear and concise? Extra points here for being entertaining while communicating the information. Is the announcer able to explain things in a way which are basic, for viewers who are perhaps not as sophisticated, while keeping more involved/educated listeners’ attention? It seems intuitive that an “announcer” would need to be good at communication, but this assumption tends to go out the window when networks hire past players to become announcers. Playing and communicating are two different skills. Coaching and communicating usually go hand-in-hand. The guys who are ex-players or coaches that can also communicate make the best announcers. I think of all the guys working right now, Steve Kerr is the best communicator.
Storytelling – Does the announcer share interesting stories, either from their personal experience or being around the NBA over the course of their career? Is the announcer engaging? Do you want the announcer to share more? Or do you just want them to shut up? Storytelling is another unique quality. It’s also one of the toughest to find, in any profession. The people that can spin a yarn are valuable. For the gold standard of storytelling, again, we have Hubie. ”He can really score the basketball,” “They need to continue to get the ball into the Painted Area”, etc. Dude paints a picture using colorful unique language which is straight up entertaining. Bonus points in the storytelling category for using funny basketball lingo.
Joy – Obviously, this is the “Austin Carr” category. Does the announcer exude joy while talking about the game? Do you get the feeling they can’t even believe they are an announcer, that they get to talk about basketball, that they get paid to do this every day? Sports are supposed to be fun and entertaining. Guys who are joyless suck all of that out of the game, and make it boring. It should be noted, that, like Austin Carr, even if a guy scores low in literally every other category of announcing, if they score high in the “joy” category it’s still enjoyable and entertaining to listen to them call a game. Gus Johnson also brings the joy to every broadcast. Every game that dude calls is fun, and sounds like it’s a big deal. It’s not just color guys that can bring the joy. The dudes that lack Joy, such as Jon Barry and Reggie Miller, do this thing where they raise their voices to try and sound excited, but, since it’s clear they don’t really care, it just sounds weird and annoying.
Sense of Humor – Can the announcer take a joke? Are they funny? Do they make you laugh out loud? Do they get that it’s absolutely awesome that they get to be NBA Announcers, and not take themselves too damn seriously? Do you immediately open your twitter client to post their quote or see what everyone else has to say about it? While not an in-game announcer, usually, I always think of Chuck when I think sense of humor. The dude makes me laugh consistently, takes a joke, and generally seems like he is making everyone around him have a good time. A sense of humor makes every situation better, and announcing an NBA game is absolutely no different.
It’s clear to me that Jon Barry literally fails in every single one of these categories.
I believe that is why it’s such a joyless experience to listen to him cover a game. He brings absolutely nothing of value, fails in literally every single one of these categories, which, if you think about it, is actually impressive, as it’s hard to be bad at literally every single thing that makes an announcer good.