In Praise of Audio Posterization

Everyone loves a great highlight. Dunks, dimes, blocks … They all good.

But as good as they are in a standalone highlight reel or YouTube clip, they are 1000x better live during a game. It’s one of the things that makes basketball, and particularly the NBA, so amazing to watch no matter whether it’s Game 4 of the Finals or a random Hawks/Mavs game in December. At any given moment, something completely out of the blue and unreal might happen.

For instance, I was watching the Heat play recently, as I’m wont to do given my unchartable affinity for Dwyane Wade, and I saw this amazing behind-the-back dribble to split a double team plus an acrobatic layup finish thrown in for good measure. (It’s number two on this Plays of the Week video. It’s at the 1:57 mark and definitely worth your time).

This one brief moment in time (not to mention Dwight’s insane block, which is number four on that countdown) was insane. It’s things like this that make me wonder how anyone can ever watch NCAA basketball aside from the awesomeness that is March Madness. I mean, I try to watch. I went to St. John’s University and try to at least watch a little Big East. And when I’m at work and find out that Duke/Carolina is on that night, I get all pumped up to watch it when I get home.

Then I actually get home and see that there is a Nuggets/Jazz game on, and I’m like “Duke/Carolina will play again later in the year, right?” Because as much as the Tobacco Road thing is cool from a historic rivalry and huge intensity standpoint, there will definitely be multiple things done by Carmelo and Deron in a random Denver/Utah game that make anything that happens in a UNC game look like the basketball equivalent of tee-ball.

But I digress. Getting back to the original point, half of what makes these three or four other-worldly moments per NBA game so amazing is the spontaneity and the holy-poop-that-came-out-of-nowhere factor. And not only are you the fan caught off guard, but so are the defenders, the fans in the arena, the announcers and — oftentimes — the player himself. (Ricky Davis’ borderline leapfrog of Steve Nash is probably the coolest, organic, “what did I just do?” reaction, whereas The Reignman Point, which is number one here, is probably the best “I just did that? You’re damn right I just did that” reaction.)

And it is those times when announcers are caught off guard that I want to praise specifically right now. It’s always been a hobby of mine to pick apart the mundane, over-obvious, old-man-non-humorous and outright incorrect things said by in-game announcers. They are, by and large, pretty poor, and even though I fully realize that it’s a job that is very hard to do well, I more fully realize that it’s really easy and fun to mock those who do it.

But on rare* instances, announcers say something great. And on even rarer instances, these amazing audio moments are unexpectedly forever ingrained in video form by a forthcoming highlight. I’m not talking about the “spec-TAC-u-lar move” or “OOOOOooooooh, MAN … Hell-o” reactions to great plays. I’m talking about the things that are just being said nonchalantly and then oh-so-rudely interrupted by a moment that stops time.

There aren’t a lot of good examples for me to throw out there off the top of my head. But there has been a handful of great ones of the past few years that I remember really enjoying. None, however, likely compares to this “audio posterization” of the unnamed, yet clearly-being-discussed Hasheem Thabeet.

As you’ll see in the video below, Rudy Gay utterly baptizes Al Thornton with a baseline jam. Good stuff, Rudy. Well done. But as he is doing it, you will also hear Clippers announcer Ralph Lawler discussing this year’s coveted number two overall draft pick and saying “…Dikembe Mutombo. But a lot of people think he’s more likely to be the next DeSagana Diop.”

OOOOOooooohhhhh, Man. Hell-o. That has to hurt. How’s your pride feel, Thabeet? (video via Hardwood Paroxysm)

And now we will now forever have this audio posterization courtesy of Rudy and Lawler that will can replay endlessly eight years from now when Hasheem is on his fourth team and playing 15 minutes per night.

And that will be funny.

In the meantime, let’s keep a look out for future — or past — audio posterizations that you come across. Everyone enjoys them, so if you find one, come back here and drop them in the comments. Or at least email me the link.

* Marv, Clyde Frazier and Jeff Van Gundy excluded

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