A couple of months ago I wrote about the 5 Worst Sports Commentators on Television. That was an incredibly hard list to whittle down. There are so many bad sports commentators and sports personalities clogging up the airwaves that it could have been the 50 worst, or the 500 worst. It’s such a hard task, that apparently Maxim magazine decided to copy the idea. In the printed Maxim magazine they even started it off with an eerily similar section of definitions and groupings of bad sports personalities that I had done months previously. It was in the June Maxim, and mine came out in March. Well I’ll tell you what Maxim, you can have your pretty girls and bikinis, big paychecks and high subscription rates, but this domain, this domain is mine!
Ahem, as I was saying… but finding the best sports personalities on television is a different story. It’s a harder list for the complete opposite reason, finding enough sports personalities to populate a list of the 5 best can be somewhat daunting. Either somebody is annoying, or ignorant. Tries too hard, or doesn’t make an effort. Sports personalities are often too gimmicky or they offer nothing memorable. But when truly great sports personalities emerge (and there are some great sports commentators on television today), they are worth taking note of.
Here are the categories that the best sports personalities and best sports broadcasters can fall into, and keep track of the date, because it’ll be two months before Maxim gets their dirty little hands on these.
The intelligent sports personalities: These sports broadcasters actually know the sport they are commenting on. They know some um, big type words and stuff, and they use them at the appropriate times. Best of all, they may even be able to inform you a little bit on the subject.
The exciting sports personalities: This breed of sports broadcasters really gets you excited for that big game or big moment. They have so much energy – real, contagious and vibrant energy – that you can’t help but get excited too.
The real sports personalities: You know what you get with these sports broadcasters. You get who they are, the way they are and what they really think. You don’t have to agree, but you know it’s real.
The glue sports personalities: You can put these sports broadcasters in any situation, with any group of other sports commentators, and they will hold it together. They’ll reign in the chaos, or create it if necessary. They’ll fill you in, keep you engaged and keep everybody happy.
With the categories for the best sports personalities covered, let’s get on to the list itself.
Honorable Mention: Mike and Mike in the Morning – Technically these guys represent two sports personalities, but it is their combined chemistry that makes them worthwhile. For whatever its worth, these guys are real, and the fighting between the two of them makes them an entertaining watch or listen. Either one of these guys left alone, especially “Greenie”, would be disastrous. But together, they have some palpable chemistry and tackle some interesting sports debates.
Best Sports Personalities Number 5: Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith – Well, since we already included one group of guys, why not throw in another group as well. Ernie Johnson represents your classic glue sports broadcasters breed. He brings it all together, and he is extremely experienced and knowledgeable about the game. Kenny “The Jet” Smith makes up another of TNT’s Inside the NBA broadcasting team. He’s been in the league, he’s comfortable in front of the screen and you know you can be in store for either a laugh or a nugget of useful information with him.
Best Sports Personalities Number 4: Jim Lampley – Jim Lampley is the lead sports broadcaster for HBO Boxing, and also appears on Olympic coverage. He defines the excitable sports commentators category and he’s the glue for the mess of egos HBO rolls out to the fights. Nothing can make a boxing telecast more exciting than Jim Lampley hoarsely screaming his prose of destruction as one fighter topples another in the ring. Over the years his HBO bias towards certain fighters has downgraded him otherwise he would be higher on the list. But the bottom line is, there is nobody I’d rather watch call a fight to make it a memorable one.
Best Sports Personalities Number 3: Mike Tirico – Mike Tirico is the perfect combination of the intelligent sports broadcasters and the glue sports broadcasters. Doesn’t matter who he is lined up with, he’ll make the event go smoothly. He knows a lot – a ton – about the games and the players he covers, and he covers them all. The NFL, the NBA and golf are just some of the areas he dabbles in. Mike Tirico is always going to give you a pleasurable, sharp and mistake free viewing experience.
Best Sports Personalities Number 2: Mike Wilbon – I swear, I did not try to make this the list of the best Mikes in sports television. It just sort of turned out that way-and my sincere apologies to Mike Ditka for not making the list. Mike Wilbon is real; real biased towards Chicago and the Cubs, real attracted to really younger women and real smart when it comes down to his sports. Mike Wilbon is one of the rare, actually funny and entertaining sports broadcasters out there today and he makes Tony Kornheiser tolerable on Pardon the Interruption.
Best Sports Personalities Number 1: Charles Barkley – If you read the whole list and saw the rest of the TNT Inside the NBA team up there, without Charles Barkley, you must have known this was coming. Charles Barkley is the Real Deal Happy Meal of sports broadcasters. Nobody is as honest and forthright as Charles Barkley is. This is a guy who had to publicly deal with a $400,000 gambling debt just a few weeks ago and during the same broadcast he calls the NBA “100% asinine and stupid”. Charles Barkley will make you laugh, whether purposely or inadvertently, and he will give you some great insight from his playing days. Charles Barkley doesn’t protect anybody and he doesn’t spare anybody from insults, including himself. And if Arnold Schwarzenegger can be governor, there is no reason Charles Barkley can’t. Sir Charles, you have my vote when the day comes.
Any of your favorite television sports personalities left off the list? Let me know. And be sure to check in with me before reading anything in Maxim magazine… cheaters.