On the call for ESPN Radio’s coverage of the NBA Finals are Jack Ramsay, 87, Hubie Brown, 78, and play-by-play voice Jim Durham, who is a mere kid at 65.
What, Mel Brooks’ 2,000-year old man wasn’t available?
The trio have about 2,000 years of experience in basketball. Their combined ages are 230. Think about that.
Yet people don’t think about their ages when you listen to their broadcasts. I’ll bet you’re stunned to learn Ramsay is creeping up on 90. I know I was.
What matters is that they remain vibrant, enthusiastic, and the former two former coaches can break down and explain the game better than anyone in the business.
ESPN Radio executive producer John Martin has the pleasure of working with them again. This is Brown and Ramsay’s fourth year being paired together for the Final. Here is my Q/A with Martin.
What is it like working with them?
I’m working with two geniuses of the game. They’re able to see and comprehend the big picture of what’s going on better than anyone. You’re talking about two Hall of Fame coaches. Their enthusiasm for the game hasn’t diminished one bit.
How is it that they’re still successful at their age when all the talk is about connecting with the young demographic these days?
In every venue we’re in, people are coming up to Jack and Hubie all the time. It ranges from people close to their age to young people. A lot of times, you could see the father nudging his young boy. ‘Do you know who that is?’ People really react to seeing them.
What about the players?
Jack and Hubie are held in a very high regard. I’ve seen it in veteran players like Shaq and Charles. They go to the younger players, ‘If they ever ask you a question, you better not blow them off.’
I’m constantly fascinated in how the young players pick up how astute they are in talking about the game. Hubie coached at Memphis. (Before Game 1), his former players, Shane Battier, Michael Miller, came up and gave him big hugs. It shows you how they feel about them.
Do you ever stop yourself and say, ‘Jack is 87-years old?’ The NBA life is a hard grind. How does he do it?
I’ve been around Jack for 17 years. From the outside looking in, you marvel at it. But it doesn’t surprise me. He’s always been a physical speciman. The other day, Hubie asked if he still could do the same amount of push-ups as his age? Jack said, ‘No, I only can do 60.’
I had an ESPN executive in for a game and he shook hands with Jack. I asked if he was missing his ring finger. He said, ‘Yeah, he almost broke my hand.’