The Poscast with Kevin Harlan.
Have a few thoughts about the Lakers disgraceful finish -- will post those later today -- but first I want to say something about my Poscast guest this week, TNT's Kevin Harlan. We talk a whole lot of NBA, the fall of the Lakers, the excitement of this Hawks-Bulls Series, the magic of Boston-Miami ... Kevin will be broadcasting tonight's Celtics-Heat game.
I love enthusiasm for life and I despise fake enthusiasm, and I'm dumb enough to believe I can tell the difference. I can't tell the difference, of course. As Sollozzo says in The Godfather: I'm not that clever. There are good actors and bad ones, people who feel enthusiasm but don't publicly express it and the other way around.
But that doesn't really matter. What I love about being around enthusiasm is not how real it is but what that enthusiasm does for me. How can you not love being around someone who loves what they are doing? How can you not feel good being around someone who is happy, unabashedly happy? I feel sure that this, as much as anything, gets at what I love about Bruce Springsteen. Sure, the music's great. Sure, the performances are great. Sure the lyrics are interesting, and the band is awesome, and the sound is energy. But as much as than anything, what I hear when I listen to Springsteen is the sound of a man who is doing EXACTLY what he wants to be doing, what he has dreamed about doing. To be around that makes me love life just a bit more.
Kevin Harlan loves what he is doing. I know this on a personal level because I have known Kevin for a good while now. But, I know it anyway, just from listening to him broadcast games. He loves the stories. He is thrilled by the action. He is in awe of the players. And all of that ... well, you can hear these things in every game he calls.
Sports announcers bring out powerful emotions in people. We like 'em. We can't stand 'em. We are thrilled by 'em. We are annoyed by 'em. There are announcers out there who make me want to throw things at the television. And there are others who make the games twice as enjoyable as they would be with another voice. Some of these things are logical -- most aren't. Most of these things are deep-seated, involuntary, I couldn't explain it, and I couldn't convince you I'm right. I tell a friend that I love the Al Michaels-Cris Collinsworth team, I think it's by far the best in football, and he says: "I can't stand Collinsworth's voice" ... well, the conversation doesn't really have any place to go. There are objective points to be made about announcers and how informed they are, how hard they work, how open they are to the game and how married they are to their own biases.
But I think much of our connection to announcers is gray area. Kevin Harlan, objectively, is an excellent announcer, I think. But more, much more for me, he sounds like he is the happiest guy in the room. He sounds like, if they turned off all his equipment and told him that nobody was listening, he would keep on announcing the game because he cannot imagine anything else would be more fun. I love that in people. When I listen to Kevin Harlan call games, I feel happier.