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A Word To Everyone: We Know Tommy Heinsohn is a Homer

 

The League Pass package has been on a free trial the past few days, meaning we’re getting more than the usual amount of visitors chiming in with comments such as: “OMG, Tommy Heinsohn is such a homer! You Boston fans drink that green Kool-Aid worse than anyone else!!!!”

Every week an opposing fan who watches their team play Boston on League Pass will submit a comment about the fact that Heinsohn is a homer and follow that ground-breaking analysis with a general complaint about Celtics fans. This will then spawn a few more comments about Heinsohn, some defending him as an Oracle of Truth, others ripping him and (the smart ones, in my opinion) arguing that Hiensohn is aware of his own schtick and plays it up for entertainment value.

This sort of discussion drives me crazy. Memo to all non-Celtics fans: Any C’s fan with a functioning brain understands that Tommy Heinsohn is (at times) a homer. We are not all sitting there in front of the TV, drool running down our chins, nodding as Tommy accuses LaMarcus Aldridge of not even trying on defense (as he did Friday) or laments a call against Boston as “bogus!”

Boston fans are just as capable as anyone else of discerning objective commentary from rooting.

More to the point: A local announce team without some home-town bent might be in the minority among team-based TV crews. Is this appropriate in the age of League Pass? And should we really care so much about this?

Tommy Heinsohn can’t be objective because he played nine seasons with Boston (winning eight titles) before winning two more titles as a head coach. Here’s the thing, though: Have you listened to Austin Carr on Cavs broadcasts? Or Dominique Wilkins analyzing Atlanta cames? Matt Bullard (a former Rocket) took off his headphones to yell at officials in a game earlier this season because he was unhappy with some calls that went against Houston. A lot of analysts refer to their team as “we” and “us.” Scott Hastings (broadcasting Denver games) is as biased as Heinsohn—maybe moreso. The Raptors crew may actually believe Andrea Bargnani is better than Dwight Howard.

I long ago decided I wouldn’t get riled up about biased announcing crews. There are too many of them, and the game is too beautiful and too complicated to get agitated over Tommy Heinsohn’s complaints about the officials. Spend that energy watching one player on a few defensive possessions or trying to figure out how your team defends the screen/roll. I barely even hear announcers anymore, unless they point out something I hadn’t noticed, do a nice slow-mo breakdown of a particular play or are just so damned nice to listen to that you can’t help but enjoy their work (Marv Albert, Mike Gorman, the Clips Ralph Lawler, questionable comments about Hamed Haddadi aside).

You can tune out the bias. Trust me, I have. Announce crews who insist on talking during every second of the game or discussing unrelated stuff they think is “funny” annoy me far more than Hastings, Bullard and their ilk.

I understand why the hometown bias irritates people, though. You pony up the cash for League Pass, turn on your team’s game against Toronto and curse the fact that you’re getting the Raps broadcast. I get it. It’s a problem the NFL doesn’t really have, since the league negotiates its broadcasting deals with the mega-networks as a single league and not as 32 teams negotiating independent deals. (The NFL also has only 16 weeks of action, whereas NBA and MLB announcers have to find a way to entertain fans night after night after night).

And the hometown crews seem like something of an anachronism as more consumers watch games on League Pass and as professional standards for journalists have gotten higher and higher. There’s a reason (many, many reasons, actually) TNT and ESPN don’t just take the local feeds when they broadcast games; it would appear unprofessional for a major journalism outlet to do so.

Unfortunately, I don’t think League Pass will ever become popular enough to force a change in the make-up of local announce crews. A huge majority of people watching the local Boston feed of a Tuesday night Celtics game are still Celtics fans, and that’s not changing anytime soon.

So we all have to just deal with the biased announce crews. So accept it, and stop telling me that Tommy Heinsohn is a homer. I know he is. So is your guy.

  • Spiraea

    All I have to say is… Amen!

  • Mel

    Yeah, he’s a homer, like the majority of announcers, but he’s so boring to listen to. Whenever I watch a Celtics game on LP, I always mute it.

    As for more even handed announcers, how about Mike Fratello and Marv Albert for the Nets? The Warriors announcers are pretty good, too.

  • Spiraea

    Well Fratello and Marv do nationally televised games as well and well.. look at the Nets. They’ve got little reason to act the same way as Tommy does

  • http://www.celticshub.com Zach Lowe

    I enjoy the Thunder crew, too. Even with Frazier, I think the Knicks crew is basically balanced.

  • Mel

    Ha, so you can only be a homer if your team is doing well?

    Again, I try not to listen to the Celtics announcers because *snore*. Their homerism can’t compare to that of the Blazers’, though.

    I can accept homerism if it’s at least entertaining. Clyde Drexler’s inanity, for example, makes me laugh or stick a fork in my eye. Sometimes at the same time.

  • PJ

    Completely agree. Tommy’s homerism bothered me, at first, then I came to appreciate his personality — and his over the top homerism only adds to my enjoyment, at this point.

    You know who’s surprisingly objective though? The Lakers guys. Seriously. They criticize Kobe more than the national TV guys.

  • Jason

    @PJ That’s not even close to true. I’m a C’s fan in Lala Land. They’re plenty homerific.

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    I’m love/hate on Tommi….and yes, I think that’s purposely his schtick.

    But like you say…..why can’t we have announcers add knowledge to the details that we miss – due to the speed of the game and our general ignorance. I don’t need someone to rant about bad calls – its pretty easy to make up your own mind on those. The fact is I gotta come to this blog to get the real breakdown cause I don’t get it from CSN.

    Any chance celticshub does its own real-time play-by-play and broadcast it online?? …..I’d go mute and listen online instead for sure.

    Dreaming of a future of league pass decoupled from official broadcasters…..zzzzzzz

  • Cptn Bubbles

    PJ is right. Those Lakers guys are usually objective & will QUICKLY point out stupid things any Laker player does, even Kobe.

    The Warriors guys are always talking about what the Warriors are doing right & wrong–even isolating players on replay & showing why there were not successful. I think they know the players will watch the game & hear their comments later & maybe learn something.

    Clyde is worse than Tommy about reaction to fouls. I like Tommy because he truly loves the Cs, he gives some good advice at times, & he has passion for what he does. He has been a player, coach, started the players union, is in the hall of fame. He has some unique insight based on years & years & years of experience.

  • Idaho

    Lets just all agree that the NBA is better off now that Bill Walton is not commentating!!!

  • KY Celts fan

    Tommy is a stand-up guy, albeit a homer.

    Personally, I hate, HATE, listening to Jeff Van Gundy! Annoys the crap out of me. He’s the Dicky V of the NBA.

  • DeVelaine

    JVG is a bit annoying, but I can take 3+ hours of listening to him as long as he’s sitting with Mike Breen and Mark Jackson. Then he’s entertaining. He’s also the brunt of most of the jokes, which is also good.

    As a LP subscriber, I often find myself a bit surprised when my only choice is to watch the away broadcast (as it is with Knicks and Nets games, with WNY being forced to be blacked out as if they were part of NYC). And yes, there’s a ton of homerism in some of these. The Raps crew is pretty bad, despite one of their guys talking as if he is from Boston. On the flip side of that, the Suns and Thunder crews have been actually very good to listen to. This, however, could just be the fact that those are both West teams and only have to face us twice a year.

    That having been said, my favorite quote so far this year is about Sheed looking a “couple trays of biscuits” over his listed weight, as stated by one of the guys from the Thunder broadcast when we were in OKC.

  • df

    so true. two things:
    1. as for homers, thats why i have league pass and why 9 times out of 10, the league pass games are available for both teams’ broadcasts (in my area here in alabama). Thats what i WANT is to hear Tommy and Mike and see the ads. Everyone else hates the celts anyway. Try listening to Dominique and the other guy who sounds like an infomercial- the hawks never make any mistakes- far worse than tommy

    2. As for broadcasters, why on earth Doug Collins feels he needs to fill every second of air time with his pointless analysis. He can have good points, but am i the only one who feels like he needs to ramble on for every second? give me hubie any day.

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  • Wootay

    As A Celtics fan in Maryland I get the NBA package every year. Tommy is a Homer but so are many of the other announcers on many of the other stations. But I will do say Tommy does get annoying at times and he breathes really hard into the mic which just gets real annoying.. LOL!!

  • Ryan S.

    Quinn Buckner on the pacer broadcasts is intolerable..i’d rather listen to Dikembe

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  • jonathan

    @idaho – No, you are so completely one-hundred percent wrong if you think the league is better off without Bill Walton. I can only guess that you didn’t understand Walton sense of humor. He is positivity the greatest man to ever announce a game in the entire history of the National Basketball League!

  • jonathan

    @Zach – good post, and I enjoy the idea that there is no way to defend Tommy. I think the problem some fans of other teams have, (full disclosure – I’m a Laker fan) is that many Celtic fans like to paint themselves as “better” than other fans; that they’re more passionate and more knowledgeable. It’s a very holier than thou attitude and with that comes the criticism when others realize it’s a bunch of insecure bull. As a Laker fan, I find it hilarious when Celtic fans refer to the “Fakers” as it simply shows that they are care much more and are much more concerned with my team than I could ever be about theirs.

    On a general level though, I find listing to local broadcast, even my own teams (which I think is still pretty good compared to most, even if the immortal Chick Hearn has passed), to decrease my sheer enjoyment of the game. I know personally I’ll always watch a national broadcast before the local one when they show simultaneously. What about you? Do you listen to Tommy whenever he’s on or do you flip to the national crew? And do you wish the Celtics employed a more neutral crew?

  • KY Celts fan

    @Jonathan – I used to live in LA and watched quite a few Lakers games with my friends on KCAL. I don’t remember much about the announcers, but I do remember that whoever does the little score box in the corner is the best there ever was. The second the ball went through the net, the score was changed. I hate watching a game and waiting sometimes 30 sec. for the correct score to come up.

  • http://thinkshesmorelike.wordpress.com/ jylze

    Tommy would be unlistenable without Mike Gorman by his side. With Mike doing the everyman thing, Tommy is free to be the crotchety but exciteable old ex-player/coach who is right about 20% of the time. Best broadcast duo of any of the local teams.

    BTW, Grande and Max on the radio are almost as good.

  • jonathan

    @KY Celts fan – I have no idea who does that, but I know exactly what you’re talking about. There have been numerous times when I’ve been watching a game but not fully paying attention to the exact score, see a basket made and then immediately look to see the score update only to realize after a second or two that it had already changed and I’d been outfoxed again.

  • ed judson

    One great improvement for nbalp this season is making both feeds available whenever possible. If Tommy is ranting just toggle for the other perspective.

    All time worst NBA announcer: “Watch the game, Dick” Stockton. Stockton’s signature line: “And now they’ve (the referees) changed the call.” No Dick, the refs didn’t change the call. you weren’t paying attention. Again. just admit it. One time.

  • Jeff

    I am soo glad that I found this blog. I specifically came on the internet to look for opinions on the “homernism” of the Celtics commentators. I’ve rememebered from even like seven years ago that there guys, especially Tom, were incredibly biased. Don’t get me wrong, the Celtics are my favorite team, behind the Raptors. In terms of commentating preference, I would go with the Raptors crew because although they speak about a lot of random stuff, they aren’t as bad as Tom and Mike when it comes to fouls. Like for god sakes, Tom wouldn’t shut up during tonights playoff game against the Heat. He was up and arms over EVERY call against the celtics, especially offensive fouls. Even when they would show a replay, showing that it was infact a foul, he wouldn’t acknowledge it. i get that it’s all apart of the “appeal” but c’mon, it was annoying me soo much that i started rooting for the Heat lol (not actually though, Beasley is TERRIBLE), oh well…

    At least Mike is better then Matt Devlin (the raptors color commentator) in one sense. Devlin has alot of trouble choosing when to emphasize his voice. For instance, he always seems to get excited when Bargnani shoots a three and eventually turns out to be a brick. If anyone else notices this reply, cuz I’m dying to see if anyone else notices this. P.S. Jeff Van Gundy is the funniest commentator in the NBA. “Rebounds off of free throws should not count on the STAT SHEET!” cLASSIC

  • don gotshalk

    I am on the tv Northwest in state of Washington. To0 bad we can not hear a comment from some of the Celtic people.
    Gorman, Heinsohn, Cousy, Russell, Havilcheck, Ainge. The flavor of the national telecasts and their gabbers realy misses the fun and facts of the past. The national guys are like hearing from guys from another planet.

  • Moe

    As a subscriber to NBA League Pass for the past five years, hands down Tommy is the most biased sports announcer in the business. No one comes close. To rationalize that fact by pointing out other homers still doesn't change the fact. The guy literally disputes almost every foul called against the C's, even when replay clearly shows justification. Tommy Heinsohn = Biggest homer in the history of sports commentary.

  • nwbl

    I'm a Celts' fan & I agree with Moe. I find Heinsohn to be an embarrassment. He's a loud, boorish, immature homer. I often mute just I don't have to listen to his nonsense.

    • Ragman

      I'm a Celts' fan. But I lived in LA for several years. Tom's counterpart, Chick Hearn, was a class act all the way. Fair and informative.

  • AMP

    Clearly, since NBA teams negotiate separately with local cable outlets, they are not trying to cater to the league pass crowd. Simple truth. The Cavs cable channel caters to… Cavs fans! Not that guy who is watching his Spurs on league pass. So Tommy fits right in, just as much as the rest of the Celtics oriented broadcast. Yes, I agree that at times he is annoying, but remember that he is a Celtics player and coach legend, so I think he has a right to be biased. I also think that as a member of the Celtics family he can, and does offer insight that other commentators cannot.
    If you don't like Tommy, mute the game, but remember that he is part of the crew to cater to Celtics fans, who at least respect his Celtics contributions enough to take him with a grain of salt.

  • Basketball Fan

    Heinsohn is certainly one of the most obvious examples of homeritis. But:

    1. When he did national broadcasts of NBA playoff games, he was about as objective as anyone could expect. Yea, you knew where his allegiances were, and his comments betrayed some more subtle bias, but I don't begrudge him that … you had to expect at least that much.

    2. Yes, all team broadcasters are "homers" to some extent. But it's one thing to announce a game from your team's perspective and quite another to broadcast it as if the home team never gets a fair shake from the NBA referees. Rampant homerism has more to do with the lack of respect NBA referees are given nowadays than their actual game performance.

    3. There are (or at least, were) a lot of broadcasters who do a pretty good job of announcing the game from their team's perspective without diving into homerism. If you heard a broadcast by Chick Hearn, you'd know what I'm talking about. He looked at the world through purple and gold glasses, but would still call a spade a spade.

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