Nearly every basketball fan can remember shooting hoops at home and pretending they were their favorite NBA player, however, not very many of us simultaneously rehearsed a play-by-play call while knocking down our hypothetical game-winning shot. Kevin Danna, who spent last season as the Santa Cruz Warriors play-by-play announcer remembers doing so, and knew that announcing games was his calling in life.
In the 12th season of the NBA D-League, the overall popularity and importance of the league grew once again. The league set records for both player assignments, and NBA D-League alumni competing in the NBA. The level of talent from players to coaches, front office staff to basketball operations personnel, all continues to improve as well. Some of the best basketball play-by-play announcers can now be found in the league too, and many have used the NBADL to help develop their talents.
For Danna, the opportunity to call games in the D-League has been a positive experience, and something he wishes to continue. In a conversation with RidiculousUpside.com, Danna explained his sentiment, "I don't like taking jobs as stepping stones, so I don't view my time in the D-League as that. This job (play-by-play) is an awesome gig, and I want to work on getting the D-League down pat. In the offseason, it can be a stepping stone for additional work."
The importance of quality broadcasting is crucial for organizations, it can raise the level of an entire staff and help bolster it's relationship with fans. Play-by-play announcers spend an enormous amount of time with their respective team, but also on the sideline or in the booth, watching the rest of the league's teams. What makes the NBADL unique, also forces it's broadcasters to remain astute in their observation of the league's happenings . It can be a daunting task.
"The roster turnover was a challenge for me, especially since I was used to calling college games. I create a chart with both rosters and key notes for every game, and I remember one instance where Kent Bazemore was assigned and I had to learn about him on the fly. Sometimes I would learn about assignments 10 minutes before the game." Danna explained.
Adjusting to the ebbs and flows of the D-League quickly, is a skill that NBADL play-by-play announcers must possess. No better example of this can be found than at the NBA D-League Showcase, which takes place over 4 days and this year was held in Reno, Nevada. For Danna, the Showcase was the highlight of his first season in the NBADL. "The chance to be apart of 10 games in 4 days was amazing, I absolutely loved it. To see a bunch of up-and-coming guys play while looking to develop myself was incredible. The Showcase really summed up my experience in the D-League this year." Danna added.
As Danna continues to extend his broadcasting journey which began at Stanford University's college radio station, young and aspiring individuals such as himself, are leading the way for others to create a niche for themselves in the D-League, while obtaining important reps as a broadcaster.
The D-League can also be an avenue for experienced broadcasters to put their talents on display. Pete Sousa worked in the NBA for seven years in various fashions, and most recently was the voice of the Brooklyn Nets' NBADL affiliate, the Springfield Armor. Sousa was a studio host and radio announcer for the Charlotte Bobcats in the 2009-2010 season, and has taken his mix-bag of skills with him to the NBADL.
Sousa also caught up with RidiculousUpside.com recently, and shared his thoughts about working in the NBADL. "If you can call a game in the D-League, you can call a game in the NBA. The action in the D-League happens at an extremely high pace." Sousa further added, "when people say that it's the second best league in the world they are right, the guys in this league can really play."
As a broadcasting veteran and also former NBA team employee, Sousa understands what it takes to perform at the top-level. For Sousa, his time in the D-League will hopefully help him land back in the NBA. "The NBA is the ultimate goal for me, having experienced it before, I want to do some TV. Those are coveted jobs. You have to shoot for the stars if you want to be the next Matt Devlin (play-by-play TV announcer for the Toronto Raptors)." Sousa said.
With Sousa's background working in the NBA, he has been able to watch the impact of the NBADL grow over time. In fact, while Sousa was working in Charlotte he started to pay more attention to the minor league system. "When Matt Carrol was called up to the Charlotte Bobcats and received an opportunity to play, my antenna went up regarding the D-League." Sousa explained. Watching the league blossom into what it has become today, has allowed Sousa to understand the importance and the intricacies regarding assignments and Call Ups.
Now, Sousa believes that the NBADL has developed into something special. "It's a great league, and the direction in which the league is heading in is tremendous, it's going to become a key cog for the NBA." Sousa concluded. If the NBADL is the best way for players to get to the NBA, perhaps Sousa's effort to utilize his time in the league can ultimately land him back in the Association too?
Both Danna and Sousa exemplify the overall direction of the NBA D-League, and with gifted and motivated professionals such as themselves helping the league continue along it's path of success, the NBADL looks to increase it's impact on the NBA in every aspect.