This week, current players Langston Galloway, Danny Green, Gerald Henderson, Steve Novak and Willie Reed, and former players Earl Barron and Loren Woods went through the NBPA’s 10th annual Sportscaster U. broadcasting program. For some, like Galloway and Green, their on-air interests started in college when they majored in communications, or media and broadcast journalism, like Reed. Others, like Barron and Woods, became intrigued in the industry from interviews they’ve done with reporters in their playing careers. Collectively, they’re all seriously considering a sportscasting career one day.
While at Syracuse University’s Newhouse Studio and Innovation Center, each player spoke with the NBPA about his first professional training in front of the camera, how their NBA Finals viewing has changed from the program, summer on- and off-the-court plans and life-after-basketball ambitions. Their insights below have been edited for clarity and length.
Biggest takeaways: Adjusting to the cameras, adjusting to the way we’re speaking to the cameras, having our volume go up and down. There’s definitely a lot of different techniques that you have to learn, and it’s pretty cool to definitely take it with strides and continue to get better with it. Also, you wouldn’t realize how much research broadcasters do. They give you a lot of different statistics and things that you really wouldn’t know about a player. So that makes it real interesting to see that they really do their research on every person.
Biggest feedback: Being able to look into the camera and really learn how to go from one camera to the next. And it was to really show that I can adjust from looking at the analyst to looking at the camera.
Finals viewing: I could see the difference as soon as Game 2 started, as soon as the announcers really started going—just how they take each play. It’s literally just like playing the game. You have to be able to change up how you’re approaching each play and how you’re speaking about each play.
Broadcasting pursuits: I like color analysts like Mark Jackson and anchors like Stan Verrett. Those guys definitely have different styles. Now, it’s just staying in touch with a lot of different people from the program. Also, I want to go around the league this upcoming year and introduce myself to different broadcasters, and get a chance to meet everybody. I love playing basketball and I just love the competition, so being a broadcaster I feel like is the next stage of my life.
Summer plans: I’m now in LA back working out with my trainer, Drew Hanlen. The biggest thing for me this summer is being a point guard and a go-to guy when you’re trying to be a leader on the court. I think this is definitely going to be a huge summer for me. I also have two camps coming up: a weeklong one in Rochester, N.Y., from July 12-17, and a free one-day camp for a lot of kids in my hometown of Baton Rouge. I just want to be that vocal leader that Baton Rouge really needs.
Life post-hoops: I really want to get a foundation started for me and my family. I’ve been really talking with the NBPA Foundation about that. There’s a lot of student-athletes that I really want to touch. That’s my passion, that’s what I was. I went to school, I got two degrees: sports marketing and communications. It’s just being able to help kids in Louisiana first and then start helping people around the world—helping students get their grades and prepare for standardized tests to get to college.
Biggest takeaways: The proper way to be on camera, to talk to the camera, certain positions, certain movements that are dos and don’ts, posture, enthusiasm. And it’s how to break certain things down at a pace and at a level of energy that everybody can understand.
Biggest feedback: I always talk fast and I mumble a little bit. And with my posture, I didn’t make myself big on the panel sometimes. Also, it was the energy and the enthusiasm for everybody in the program. We think we’re talking loud, but we’re really not. So we had to take up our energy level, our enthusiasm like a whole other five notches.
Finals viewing: I watched everything differently, I heard the game differently. I see how difficult it is to talk or call the game, play by play. After the game when Shaquille O’Neal and Paul Pierce were on their panels, I was watching those guys because they are newer on set. So I’m trying to see what they’ve picked up with a short time span to make themselves better.
Broadcasting pursuits: Play by play and TV, I think those would be pretty solid options for me, and the debating, like with Shaq and Charles Barkley and those guys. It’s really just talking basketball, and showing certain points and debating your points. And that’s fun for us. That’s what we live for, that’s what we do. This is something I definitely want to do in the future. I would take advantage of more opportunities in the summertime—even during the year with the Spurs—to actually practice my reps.
Summer plans: All of July, I have my camps in Texas, my hometown of New York, Huntsville in Ontario, where I first did a camp in college, and in Chapel Hill. And August is back-to-work time, working out two-a-days. I’ll be in Santa Barbara at P3. I’m known as a shooter, so I always work on ball-handing, floaters, pull-up jumpers and different finishes around the rim. Those are the counters from shooting threes.
Life post-hoops: This is one—broadcasting—and staying around the game, coaching younger kids, doing camps. That’s a lot of fun for me; you’re teaching and helping them learn the game. I have to find something that keeps me around the game, keeps me still a little competitive. I also want to do stuff in the community. At some point, I would like to learn how to play an instrument or learn how to cook certain things. And there’s movies, TV. Those are some of the things I looked into.
Biggest takeaways: I came in here thinking that I probably knew a little bit more than I did, but I learned so much here. I learned how to work with cameras, on set, off set, radio, television—all these things that you don’t really think about as a viewer, but are different aspects of sportscasting.
Biggest feedback: The one thing I learned for sure is how to deliver a message to the viewers. I can shape whatever it is that they’re about to hear, but it’s got to be correct. You can make your own statement, but if you say it, you’ve got to stick behind it. You don’t want to say half-statements. That limits your credibility.
Finals viewing: This program has changed the way that I look at all games. I was also watching the golf Memorial Tournament. And I was just listening to the announcers, looking at when he was going to let the analyst talk, seeing what the analyst came in with, when it was his turn to speak—all those things that you don’t really think about as a viewer, but now you do going through the program.
Broadcasting pursuits: I’ll look to do some playoff games in the future. I’ve done that before; it’s a lot of fun. I wouldn’t be opposed to interning or popping in on NBA playoff shows. I think color analyst was the strong point for me. There’s an element that’s just natural wanting to be at the game. Marc Zumoff, who is our play-by-play guy with the 76ers, was here practicing with us. I’ve seen him do games since I was seven years old, so that was a lot of fun working with him. I saw myself right in Alaa Abdelnaby’s seat working with Marc, and it felt natural.
Summer plans: I have my fourth annual golf invitational on July 31 in my hometown of Philadelphia for the first time. This year, it’s going to be benefiting Community Partnership School in inner-city Philadelphia, which puts kids through a private school curriculum to get them ready for college. Also as July comes around, that’s when I start to really get back training everyday and working on my skills. I’ll make my way down to Charlotte, where me and my family live.
Life post-hoops: I’ll definitely look into broadcasting. I also have ambitions to be a GM. We have a great GM in Bryan Colangelo and he’s been around the league for a while now. He’s changing things up with the 76ers. I’m going to call him and ask him, “Hey, can I hang out with you for a week or two?” We’ve built a good relationship. I also know they have a program with the Players Association, where they have GMs talk about upper management type stuff. And that’s a possibility for me.
Biggest takeaways: I realized that there are a lot of different ways you can go. You can do radio, TV, games, in studio. I enjoyed commentating the games, I enjoyed the studio work. I think I would enjoy doing those on a daily or weekly basis.
Biggest feedback: I was at my worst when I was just rambling on and on. Now I realize the most important thing is to get to the point, say what you need to say. The viewers want to hear your expertise and point out exactly the things that you’re trying to say.
Finals viewing: I watched the game with some of the guys and we were, like, “We’re ruined.” We can never watch a game the same again because you do realize the way they look at the camera. You’re, like, “I see the tone of his voice—how he raises that at certain times and lowers to just match the intensity of what’s going on.” It’s just very neat to now realize what goes into that production.
Broadcasting pursuits: I think it’s watching guys in my local markets where I am and listening how they go about it. And then it’s really finding out what opportunities would be out there and putting myself in that situation, thinking, like, Would I really enjoy doing it? Would I want to be the team’s studio guy? Would I want to do play by play? I think this course has allowed me to realize, “I can answer the question.”
Summer plans: I have two camps going on back in Milwaukee, in July and August, and I’m doing some work with the Education Foundation of Brown Deer, which the NBPA Foundation has been amazing at. I’ve been able to donate some money for scholarships back to the high school that I went to. The first scholarship that we gave was on June 2 to a high school senior, and he’s going to a university in Wisconsin. And with basketball, I work out at Marquette University a lot and I play with a lot of the university guys. We have a big Marquette basketball 100-year reunion on June 23.
Life post-hoops: Broadcast is a big part of it, but if I do it, what kind of time commitment? What kind of energy commitment? There’s options, like front office, coaching and broadcast. As a player, I think coaching is the closest thing that we’re around, and I grew up in a family where my dad was a coach. With the front office, I’m actually within the next two weeks going to spend a week in one of the NBA front offices and just shadow. Like this program, I want to understand what energy it takes and what skills I would need to be good at it.
Biggest takeaways: The hands-on experience—being able to learn on the fly while also being able to actually do the things that you always wanted to do. I see Shaq, I see Kenny Smith, Reggie Miller, all those guys on TV doing it. It felt good to be able to learn while actually being able to do it like them.
Biggest feedback: Just be direct, be confident what you want to say, bring energy to it. So if you’re doing a game and the game is really exciting, you have to bring that energy to an eight, nine, 10 level. If the game is a blowout, you have to make the fans want to be able to stay and listen to what you’re saying.
Finals viewing: I always love, even when I go back and watch the game, listening to the announcers and the analysts. I don’t think I watched the Finals differently. But I watched to the first timeout differently—just listening to how the analysts prepared for that.
Broadcasting pursuits: I think that I was best at being an in-studio analyst. The great thing about the program is that I made a lot of connections here. Antonio Daniels was great. I’ll try to shadow him a little bit this summer. But the biggest thing is to pick the brains of the media guys from my team, and see if I can work with Heat TV to be able to get more hands-on experience.
Summer plans: I just want to be able to give my family an opportunity to see the world a little bit, do some yoga to take some stress off of us, go view other parts of Miami. I’m doing yoga myself and I’ve started working out with David Alexander in Miami. We’re trying to build the strength back in my thumb and get grip strength so that I can palm the basketball, because I do a lot of two-hand dunks. Also, it’s being able to jump off either leg instead of just being a two-leg jumper like I have been most of my career.
Life post-hoops: I’m actually starting the Willie Reed Jr. No Excuses Foundation for underprivileged children in my hometown of Kansas City, Mo. I’m doing a free camp for the kids at the end of June. I also work with Brookside Charter School, where I provide school supplies. I want to have a golf outing and a 5K run to support cancer. Close friends and family have passed away from it. I also want to do something about the troubles of gun violence. My cousin, Emorye, was shot and killed last year. I wear wristbands for him during every game that say “7/21/95” for the day he was born and “1/6/2016” for the day he died.
Biggest takeaways: The program is like going to a new team or the beginning of a season where a lot of changes are made, where guys are all kind of unsure of what’s going on. But as time progresses, we’re all helping each other, giving little pointers, asking questions and getting more comfortable, and smiling and laughing.
Biggest feedback: Because of my personality, I’m a laid back type of guy. So the way my voice carries, it’s to be more vocal, let my voice stand out. I can be goofy and funny sometimes, so they said to let my personality show in my voice. So once I got used to that, it’s just a matter of relaxing and having fun.
Finals viewing: I’m glad I came to this program because I would’ve never known what it takes, even by watching the Finals. It takes a lot of work, like taking notes and being able to point out things that most people wouldn’t know.
Broadcasting pursuits: I like the studio because of how challenging it is, with the eye contact and just being on the spot. And actually doing the game was a lot of fun, and the debates that we had. We were able to open up and be ourselves giving our little point of views about different things.
Summer plans: I had a son last year and he’s 11 months, so from 8 to 4 it’s daddy day care. Being able to spend time with him is special. As an athlete, you miss all that, and I’m just cherishing the moment right now.
Life post-hoops: I’ve been privileged enough to travel all across the world—eight or nine different countries, eight or nine different NBA teams, four or five different D-League teams over a span of 14 years. If I do go play this year, we’ll see. But for now, I’m staying in shape and working out. I did the NBPA coaching program last year and that was very fun and interesting. I’m just dipping and dabbling in a few things just to see where I want to go post-playing.
Biggest takeaways: Seeing all of the work, all of the effort that it takes to produce even a 10- to 30-minute segment of a TV show. And it’s hours upon hours of work, effort, behind-the-scenes production, and it gave me a bigger appreciation of what’s going on in TV.
Biggest feedback: Be comfortable—just talk like you’re talking to your friend. Behind that camera is hundreds of millions of viewers, and it’s a scary thought when you think about it. But when you’re yourself and you’re in your element, you don’t think about it. You just go up there, be yourself, relax.
Finals viewing: For Game 2, it wasn’t even like a game anymore. I’m looking at it like from a business side of it, from a production side of it. I wasn’t watching the types of plays that were being made. I was analyzing these plays and what would I say if I were broadcasting this game on television.
Broadcasting pursuits: I love being in the studio. It’s fast-paced kind of like the game of basketball, and when you’re out there with two or three or four guys, it’s like having a conversation at the kitchen table. I’ve always been a go-getter when it comes to things that I want. You’re going to need to go to people to help propel you to the next level. So it’s going to be keeping in contact with all of these connections that I’ve made over the last few days.
Summer plans: To get the start, I just have to make the calls, just like how I got in the program. I think that’s where it starts for me. I’m not going to walk into a TNT job obviously, but wherever I start, I’ll work my way up.
Life post-hoops: Before I came to this program, I still had plans to play basketball another one or two years professionally or maybe do some other things, like training individuals or doing camps. But after being in this program, I feel like I’m ready to go into the broadcasting field and just start, no matter what. Just get me on TV, get me in the studio, get me behind the scenes. That’s how excited I am after being in this program for four days.