A Daily Babble Production
This piece has been a long time coming. But over several months of contemplation, I've had more difficulty than I could have imagined finding the right right words for it. It isn't easy to describe my enjoyment of the man whose delivery of his own words add so much to each Celtics game. But given that Celts fans make up the audience most qualified to help fill in the blanks I leave about the wonder of listening to Mike Gorman, it's worth a shot.
There is something about listening to Mike Gorman broadcast a basketball game that qualifies as intangible. I can tell you that I love Mike Breen's patented "Bang!" call and his rapport with Walt Frazier during Knicks broadcasts as well as the pro-referee stance that gets him into fun arguments with Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson on ESPN. Or that the Clippers' Ralph Lawler earns points with me because he keeps his energy level so high despite watching such a constantly disappointing team, and his "Bingo!" call on its own is enough to keep anyone interested.
It is difficult to offer as much of a definitive assessment with Gorman. What I do know is that there's something reassuring about turning on the television on a blustery night in the dead of winter and hearing that thick Northeastern accent fill up my house with a warmth all its own.
Maybe it is because everything about his calling a game just seems to flow so naturally. He keeps his tone calm and even in describing the action on the floor and knows just when to up the energy level for a big play or a crucial part of the game. Unlike so many announcers (and no doubt yours truly as well in my writing), Gorman never seems guilty of trying to say too much. He doesn't have a problem pausing and using silence to his advantage, letting viewers at home get an unadulterated feel of the crowd from time to time.
The whole production is so smooth from start to finish. As someone who finds himself annoyed as the next guy with the barrage of advertising heaped upon consumers, it isn't lost on me that Gorman reads the mandated promos so fluidly over the course of the game that it almost isn't a bother. On more than one occasion as I've talked to The Guru after games, I've internally caught myself beginning sentences that feature the phrase "Amica shot clock" somewhere along the line. Somehow, Gorman manages to make even the corporate nonsense that normally gets automatically filtered out of my head an acceptable part of the broadcast.
His relationship with Tommy Heinsohn is a boon for Celtics fans as well. As we learn on the rare occasions when Gorman misses a game, working with Tommy can be a challenge for announcers that aren't as experienced with him. That isn't a knock on Tommy at all but simply a note that his status as a Celtics legend and buoyant personality often leads to other broadcast partners trying too hard to be deferential to Tommy or appealing for his approval a bit too eagerly. It's also understandable for those broadcasters, as working alongside someone held in such high regard in the organization has to be intimidating to some extent.
Gorman has no such issues. There is no doubt from his confident tone and the ease with which he jokes with Heinsohn that he and the legendary player-coach-broadcaster are equals in the booth. After years of working together, Gorman has the perfect feel for knowing just when and how to give the big fella a subtle verbal jab to set him off. Particularly there is a feeling that the Celtics are getting jobbed by the referees or that the fans may just need some fun on an otherwise rough night for the C's, Gorman gets that poke in that will unleash the beast within Tommy in the form of a hailstorm of abuse on the officials or any other guilty parties.
When all is said and done, one always feels in good hands when listening to Mike Gorman. No matter the situation on the floor, there is always something in his voice giving me one more additional reminder that, short of being in the arena itself, when I'm sitting on my couch watching Celtics hoops, I'm exactly where I want to be. There's a lot to be said for that.
Regardless of how the team is playing on the court, the Celtics' rock of consistency off it remains their play-by-play man. There's no particular reason that this comes today other than the fact that I simply don't say the following often enough: Thanks, Mike.