Watching Jon Barry closely over the past month, has taught me a couple things. It feels a little weird to actively campaign for someone to be fired, no matter how awful they are at their job. Also, Jon Barry is totally awful at his job. I have been watching and waiting to pounce when he screws up, like a grizzled 4Chan veteran. I have spent many a night staring into my little eye mirror, wondering what all of this means. Giving him the full Rust Cohle treatment has brought to light a series of patterns of things that Jon Barry does that make him the most annoying announcer in basketball.
Read on for those patterns.
In Jon Barry’s Rashomon’ed version of the NBA, he, as a member of The Alternatorz and other unnamed bench crews, was the glue that held a team together, and that glue/depth launched the team into successful postseason campaigns and championships. It matters not that JB never won a championship. If the playoffs come up, it’s a mortal lock that Jon Barry will start talking about the importance of depth.
Jon Barry is more Jamarcus Russell than Peyton Manning when it comes to pre-game prep. It’s pretty clear that he doesn’t do much more than glance at stat sheets that the ESPN producers give him on the day of the game. If he even did a little bit of preparation he would know how to pronounce Dragic. Instead, we get to watch him grip it and rip it and destroy the pronunciation of almost any player with a non-anglican last name.
Being a Dick
Jon Barry has the people skills of a young Kobe Bryant. He is The Bald Mamba. Unlike young Kobe, however, he also lacks the requisite talent to get away with being a dick. He constantly will take potshots at his play-by-play guy, hiding the weird dickishness underneath an even weirder forced chuckle. He is the guy who doesn’t know how to tease and be teased, so he lashes out with nuclear missile attacks on his coworkers.
Jon Barry brings an “NFL on CBS Pregame Show” level of fake forced enthusiasm to each broadcast. He will make a bad pun, force his voice up an octave or two, and start pretending like he cares about the game. This happens at the end of quarters, but can also happen in the flow of the game, or when headed to commercial break. The Authentic Enthusiasm scale runs from Jon Barry (0) to Bill Walton (Eleventy Seventy Million Billion). This is the cardinal announcing sin, the thing which undermines everything else. Listening to a guy who clearly doesn’t really care about the game truly sucks. (Side note: I am starting to believe that Jon Barry actually detests the game of basketball, or at least resents it. He must have been forced to play by his dad. He’s reminds me of Tyrion Lannister without the charm and charisma. He takes this out on us by not preparing, being a jerk, and generally creating a miserable atmosphere. Would explain a lot. Either that or he is just lazier than Ilana in Broad City).
Evading Direct Questions
From time to time Jon Barry’s play-by-play guy will lob a direct (but softball) question to him, in order to get him to “analyze” a situation. Some NBA analysts shine when this happens (Steve Kerr, JVG, etc) and take a moment to talk about a bigger picture than what’s happening on the floor. When this happens to JB, you can almost hear the gears grinding as he figures out what he can say that will be least likely to be outrageously false. He either fully evades the question or strings together a series of non-sequiturs until something happens in the game which allows him to shift the subject. He would make a solid Congressman.
Archaic Understanding of Analytics
Jon Barry is a direct philosophical descendent of the old-school scouts in Moneyball. He provides zero statistically analysis. To be fair, he is not at all alone in the NBA television analyst world here, there is still not a TV Kirk Goldsberry or even a Zach Lowe to help educate the masses. Where Jon Barry goes Next Level is how often what he says contradicts even rudimentary statistical analysis. It’s more or less mind-boggling. I have found there is a vocal cue that happens when JB makes a bold statement which is also clearly wrong – his voice goes up in the register a little and gets a tiny bit louder. I can have the game on DVR in the background when I am breaking down the tape, and know when that happens it’s time to pause, rewind, and listen to JB. Inevitably, he is making a claim that I can easily debunk with some digging. I can bank on it.