The Media Learning Curve: Jan. 28-Feb. 4

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More media notes heading into the weekend after today’s column (linked here):

== You should know the drill by now — Fox has red carpets and TMZ and Obama sightings planned for how its Super Bowl Sunday will unravel, after the NFL Films’ traditional “Road to the Super Bowl” (9 a.m.) and a Troy Aikman-hosted “Inside the Rings” sorta-infomercial for Rent-A-Center (10 a.m.) gets you to the start of the four-hour pregame show (11 a.m., Channel 11).

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Fox’s hour-by-hour segments planned, unless more snow gets in the way:

Between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.: The red carpet show hosted by Michael Strahan and “Access Hollywood’s” Maria Menounos, hoping to catch as many Fox-show-related celebs coming into the game, or stopping by to make it appear they’re going to the game.

12:30 p.m.: The celebrity news website TMZ provides its unique review of the week’s Super Bowl scene and night-life in Dallas.

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1:30 p.m.: The awkward transition from red carpet to Fox New Channel’s Bill O’Reilly’s Q-and-A shoutdown with President Obama.

2:30 p.m.: Terry Bradshaw has a Q-and-A with Ben Roethlisberger.

2:53 p.m.: Excerpts from The Declaration of Independence as read by a number of current and former NFL greats with representatives of the U.S. military.

3 p.m.: Official game coverage starts, with kickoff somewhere closer to 3:30 p.m., by which time Joe Buck and Aikman will be glad to just have a contest to sit around and chat about.

The NFL Network’s rundown includes a 6 a.m. start with 25 on-air people that will include the announcement of the Associated Press Most Valuable Player award at 9 a.m.

*************

== CBS dispatches Ian Eagle and Greg Anthony to call Saturday’s UCLA-St. John’s game from Pauley Pavilion (Channel 2, 10 a.m.). Again the early tipoff is to facilitate the network’s coverage of the third round of the PGA’s event in Scottsdale, Ariz.

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== If you hadn’t heard: Stephen A. Smith is returning to ESPN as a local radio host and ESPN.com columnist. The deal has him doing two shows a day — one for ESPN 1050 in New York from 7-9 p.m. ET, and the other on KSPN-AM 710 here from 6-8 p.m. Smith, most recently apart of Fox Sports Radio, hosted a show of his own on ESPN Radio from 2005-08, and had his own TV show on ESPN2 from 2005-07.

Which means, in the 2011 Daily News Best/Worst of the L.A. Media, we may not have Stephen A., Max Kellerman or Marcellus Wiley in the Bottom 5. Considering they could be in and out by next Janurary.

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== After 29 years of broadcasting, including the last 24 at ESPN and ABC, Bob Griese , who turned 66 on Thursday, took the occasion to announce his retirement from the profession.

“I’ve had a wonderful career and now it’s time to experience new things,” he said in an ESPN statement. “I’ve had many highlights along the way, from working the NFL’s Super Bowl and college football’s championship games to covering many of my son Brian’s games during his undefeated season in 1997 (at Michigan). I want to thank ABC, ESPN and the fans for their support and all the men and women on our TV crews for their patience and support thru the years.”

Griese, a member of both the Pro Football and College Football Halls of Fame, joined ABC in 1987. For the past two seasons, he worked ESPN’s Saturday telecasts with Dave Pasch and Chris Spielman. With Keith Jackson, Griese called his son, Brian’s, final college game in the 1998 Rose Bowl Game.

Griese started his career at NBC as an NFL analyst from 1982-’86, which included a Super Bowl XX call (Chicago over New England from New Orleans in ’86) with Dick Enberg and Merlin Olsen.

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== The NFL Network has the 2011 Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinee announcement — Saturday, 4 p.m. — hosted by Rich Eisen, Michael Irvin, Rod Woodson and Steve Young. NFL Network analysts Marshall Faulk and Deion Sanders, and NFL Films founder Ed Sabol, are among the finalists.

During a debate of the candidates on Showtime’s “Inside the NFL,” Cris Collinsworth said: “We have sort of discussed whether or not there shouldn’t be a separate category for the Ed Sabols and Paul Tagliabues and Ron Wolfs. Because this is the NFL Hall of Fame, and there should be, no player should be giving up their spot for somebody who didn’t play on the field. These should be discussions about the players that played the game.”

It’s a Pro Football Hall of Fame, actually, and the point is well taken.

== NBC has another version of the Washington Capitals vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins — indoors, in D.C., on Sunday (Channel 4, 9:30 a.m., NBCSports.com live streaming) with Mike “Doc” Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire. NBC had 4.5 million viewers for what turned out to be a prime-time meeting between the two on New Year’s Day.

== Versus reports that last Sunday’s NHL All-Star game was the most-watched in the network’s history — averaging close to 1.5 million viewers and peaking at nearly a 2.0 rating from 3:45 to 4 p.m. PDT.The game pushed Versus to the No. 1-rated cable network among men 18-34 and No. 2-rated cable network in the country among men 18-49 and men 25-54.

== ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight” returns Monday in a 12:30 p.m. ESPN2 slot, with Karl Ravech and/or Steve Berthiaume joined by Aaron Boone, Nomar Garciaparra, Doug Glanville, Orel Hershiser, John Kruk, Tim Kurkjian, Buster Olney, Eduardo Perez, Chris Singleton, Rick Sutcliffe, Bobby Valentine and/or Dave Winfield. Once the season starts, it moves back to Monday-Saturday at 7 and 9 p.m., and Sundays at 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.

<a href="http://msn.foxsports.com/foxsoccer/video?vid=e437dfef-e757-4dd9-8e6f-be3fc74ee958" target="_new" title="">Eric Wynalda&#8217;s Goal Kick</a>

== Eric Wynalda, the Westlake Village-based former U.S. national team star, will be part of Fox Soccer Channel’s “Super Sunday” coverage from the Fox NFL studio set in Century City, starting at 7 a.m. with the live Chelsea-Liverpool EPL match at 8 a.m. Part of the show includes Wynalda taking on USC’s Joe Houston in a field-goal kicking contest.
Wynalda’s Super Bowl pick?
“My parents lived a couple blocks from Lambeau Field before I was born in Fullerton) and are still fans. It’s a big deal in our family that the Packers have made it to the Super Bowl. The Steelers are, as always, smash-mouth football and will be tough, but the Packers will take it, in my opinion. (Aaron) Rodgers the MVP with 350 passing yards. Green Bay, 31-14. My dad would disown me if I predicted anything different.”

== HBO has new replay dates for its “Lombardi” documentary that debuted two months ago. Catch it again tonight (6:30 p.m.) and Sunday (9 a.m.).

== ESPN also announced it has reached 100,002,000 homes as of this month. When it launched in Sept., 1979, there were 1.4 million homes, and it wasn’t in Hawaii until Dec., 1984. The net also says ESPN2 is in 99.9 mil homes to date, launching with 10 mil in Oct. 1993.

== ABC’s Lakers-Celtics game last Sunday had a 5.0 overnight rating, tying a Lakers- Cavs 2009 broadcast as the highest-rated, non-Christmas Day, NBA regular-season game ever on the network. In L.A., it had a 11.1 rating; it was 10.3 in Boston. And they meet again on TNT next Thursday.

== And even tougher to believe: The NFL says last Sunday’s Pro Bowl on Fox was the most watched game of its kind in 14 years — drawing 13.4 million viewers — and making it the most-viewed all-star game in any sport since the 2009 MLB All-Star Game (14.6 million).

AND FINALLY:

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== It’ll cost you either $5.99 for the January issue of Playboy (eight pages of nakedness from locker room settings), or $19.95 for the pay-per-view telecast of Los Angeles Tempation vs. the Philadelphia Passion in Lingerie Bowl VIII (linked here) from the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas on Sunday at 5 p.m. (scheduled for about halftime of Super Bowl XLV).
Or, it’s $29.95 if you want the hi-def broadcast.
No 3-D. Seems like they’re missing a huge opportunity there.
Getting you up to speed: The Lingerie Football League began in 2004, and now has 10 teams in 10 cities, with games on MTV2.

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The Tao of Vin Scully: Prof. Lou Riggs, with the final disseration

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Following up on today’s final installment (linked here) on the 19th annual best and worst of the L.A. sports media, tying up the answers to the questions about how someone can learn from listening to today’s version of Vin Scully call a Dodger game, we’ll submit this final analysis from Lou Riggs (linked here), who has been teaching sportscasting play-by-play at Santa Monica College since 1985, a personal “trainer” for broadcasters such as Chris Marlowe, Heather Cox and James Worthy, and a play-by-play man himself in Southern California since 1970 on college sports, and let him tie it all together:

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“I don’t know Scully personally, so I’m giving you an objective viewpoint as a broadcaster, coach and teacher.

“I use Scully as examples of how to do if right all the time, even if so many of my broadcast students are so young (in their teens and 20s). Unfortunately, in a day of video games, they tend less to use of the English language and have shorter attention spans, so I’m not sure what younger generations of broadcasters bring to the table worth digesting. I grew up listening to guys like Red Barber (Scully’s mentor), Mel Allen, Fred Haney (when he was broadcasting Hollywood Stars baseball games), Jack Drees, Bob Kelley, Sam Balter, Ted Husing, Bill Stern and Harry Wismer. They weren’t all great, but, you could learn from them.

“Scully’s talent is that he is the opposite of most younger announcers today because they’re screamers, talk too fast, are ‘homers,’ don’t know when or how to tell a story. Scully is ‘old school,’ like John Wooden was ‘old school’ and like how I am in the classroom.

“First, he is unbelievably prepared, not just with stats (he can have a stat guy help him out), but in ‘life.’ I keep telling my people to learn and know as much as you can about history, literature, current events, world events, because you never know when you might be able to use what’s happening today in context with what happened years before, or people from different generations. If he makes a comparison of Clayton Kershaw to Sandy Koufax, that is something we know what he’s talking about. But even more important is that he knows what he’s talking about.

“What Scully brings is class, grace, word economy, knowledge, preparation and a smooth, calming delivery. If someone is a better story teller, in context with the timing of when to deliver it, it must be a dead comedian (maybe Jack Benny?). He never talks down to an audience. He brings us along for the ride — ‘pull up a chair’

“He’s always under control — by that, I mean he’s not a local ‘Harry Hysterical’ type — ever. Even on his Koufax perfect game, the Dodgers winning a pennant or World Series, or Gibson’s World Series home run — they were under control excitement.

“He understands the art of ‘layout’ when the crowd is going bonkers. He brings great sense of humor to the booth. If he makes a mistake (which is rare), he can kid himself about it and move on. He’s not a ‘homer’ even though he’s the Dodger broadcaster. The closest thing I ever heard him say, I believe, was when Dodgers beat Milwaukee in 1959 playoffs to go to World Series when he said ‘we go to Chicago’ — that ‘we’ can be interpreted several ways. But he’s never said ‘us’ or ‘they’ or ‘them,’ it’s always ‘Dodgers’ and ‘Giants.’

“He recaps better than anyone in the game, giving the score, and telling us frequently what has happened for late tune-inners. You feel like he’s someone you could sit down and talk with and go away feeling good about it.

“Unfortunately, there aren’t many like Scully — well, no one actually — but a Dick Enberg, Al Michaels and the late Bill King come to mind. They’re all older and have an understanding of the basic elements of good broadcasting, aren’t afraid to be quiet.

“If any young person wants to be a real professional, put the video games away and listen, digest how Scully presents a picture.”

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== The previous 20 respondents to the question as posted on the blog:
= Jim Nantz (linked here)
= Ross Porter (linked here)
= Ken Levine (linked here)
= Matt Vasgersian (linked here)
= Victor Rojas (linked here)
= Charley Steiner (linked here)
= Bob Miller (linked here)
= Nick Nickson (linked here)
= Chris Roberts (linked here)
= Ralph Lawler (linked here)
= Chris Fisher (linked here)
= Jeff Lasky (linked here)
= Paul Sunderland (linked here)
= Dave Caldwell (linked here)
= Larry Kahn (linked here)
= Mario Impemba (linked here)
= Josh Suchon (linked here)
= Donny Baarns (linked here)
= Larry Burnett (linked here)
= Spero Dedes (linked here)

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The Tao of Vin Scully XX: Spero Dedes

As a professional play-by-play man, what can you learn about your craft simply by listening to Vin Scully today?

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== Spero Dedes (linked here), the Lakers’ radio voice for the last six seasons, and play-by-play on the NFL and college basketball for CBS, and, like Scully, a Fordham University graduate:

“I’m not ashamed to admit that baseball has never been my most passionate sport. I grew up in a Greek-American household where soccer and basketball were king, followed by pro football. But when I’m flipping through the channels and Vin Scully is on the air, I stop and listen. His voice makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. His mastery of his craft is both inspiring and intimidating at the same time.

“What I’ve always admired most about Vin was his command of the big moment — the moments that are forever frozen in time. It’s the common denominator among the all-time guys: Vin, Chick, Marv and whoever else is on that list.

“On a personal level I’ll never forget the day I met Vin in September of 2005 up in the booth before a Dodgers game. I spent 10 minutes with him. It felt like I had known him for 10 years. He makes you feel that comfortable and that special. I’m one of the millions profoundly impacted by Vin. He will forever be the king.”

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The Tao of Vin Scully XIX: Larry Burnett

As a professional play-by-play man, what can you learn about your craft simply by listening to Vin Scully today?

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== Larry Burnett (linked here), who has done radio and TV play-by-play for the Lakers, Sparks and college sports:

“I love baseball and I thoroughly enjoy calling baseball play-by-play, but the toughest part of the job is filling the numerous gaps in activity. Vin Scully is the best ‘gap-filler’ in the business. I am constantly amazed at his wealth of knowledge about the teams, the players and the history of the game. There are no lulls when Scully is in the broadcast booth and he gives us so much more than batting averages and ERAs.

“Sometimes I’ll watch a Dodger game on TV and I’ll say out loud, ‘How does he know that?’ Vin has obviously mastered the art of preparation and he is a tremendous storyteller. I don’t know how he remembers all those tales from his many years behind the microphone, but they are treasures that he effortlessly weaves between the strikes, balls, hits, runs and errors. Classic!

“I cannot discuss Vin Scully without mentioning how seamlessly he glides from radio play-by-play to calling a game for television. They are two completely different animals. He sets the scene so well on radio that listeners are electronically transported right to ballpark. Vin’s voice is the eyes of the radio audience and he gives them an informed, concise, and accurate ‘birds-eye’ view. On television, Vin lets the pictures do more of the talking, but still injects an incomparable combination of style, information and entertainment.

“Vin once told me that calling Dodger games on television was similar to doing a paint-by-numbers picture. The form and the structure are there in front of you on TV. All you have to do is add some color in the right spots and stay within the lines. Radio, though, provides a blank canvas on which an announcer must visualize, create, and then paint a unique and accurate picture for the listeners.

“No matter the medium, when Vin Scully calls a game, it is true artistry.”

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The Tao of Vin Scully XVII: Donny Baarns

As a professional play-by-play man, what can you learn about your craft simply by listening to Vin Scully today?

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== Donny Baarns (linked here), who calls games for the Single-A Visalia Rawhide in the Cal League, as well as hockey for the NAHL’s Fresno Monsters:

“I grew up in Sylmar and listened to Vin every night, and like so many over the last six decades, it was his voice that made me want to become a play-by-play man. I’ve actually had to force myself to stop listening to him over the last couple years to make sure I don’t end up being a Vin clone, but his influence will always be a part of me.

“Others have already touched on how effortlessly and artfully he performs the fundamentals of good broadcasting, which are easy to take for granted until you realize how difficult they are. But besides his unparalleled mastery of the essentials, there are three other general things that have always struck me about Vin:

“No. 1: He makes you feel as though he’s talking directly to you, instead of at you. He sounds like an old friend who’s sitting in your living room and spinning yarns while describing the game. This ability to speak to each individual unseen listener is a rare gift.

“No. 2: He always frames things in the larger context of an overarching storyline. He never gets lost in the play-to-play minutia of a game; he can always tell you what this moment means, and he does it with wit and brevity. The best example, perhaps, is what he said immediately after Kirk Gibson hit his famous home run in the ’88 World Series: ‘In a year that has been so improbable…the IMPOSSIBLE has happened!’

“No. 3: He’s fair. There’s nothing wrong with wanting your employer to win, but Vin taught me that this doesn’t allow you to sound like someone shot your puppy when the other team scores. Vin noticeably appreciates a great play, even if it robs the Dodgers of a run. He loves the game, and his appreciation of baseball is always at the forefront.

“Also, who else would have either the imagination or the moxie to describe a smooth-fielding shortstop as “a bowl of silk”? That one still stuns me.”

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The Tao of Vin Scully XVII: Josh Suchon

As a professional play-by-play man, what can you learn about your craft simply by listening to Vin Scully today?

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== Josh Suchon (linked here and linked here), co-host of KABC’s “DodgerTalk” with play-by-play experience on minor-league baseball and, lately, for UC Santa Barbara women’s basketball:

“As great of a baseball announcer that Vin is, he’s an even better human being. So many others have eloquently written what makes Vin so great on the air, and they’re all absolutely correct. I’m always even more impressed with what he’s like off the air.

“I always feel guilty when a friend or a ThinkCure auction winner asks to meet Vin. I don’t want bother him. I want to just let him prepare for the game. Vin is always so gracious with his time, and enjoys meeting people. Inevitably, the guest will say something along the lines of, ‘your voice was the last I heard before going to bed so many nights’ or ‘your voice is the soundtrack of summer.’

“You know how many times a day Vin hears that? But he’s not bothered. Vin is always so thankful and appreciative that people would take time out of their day to say that to him. It’s not fake. It’s genuine. It’s like fans are doing him a favor by stopping by his booth.

“Every sportscaster strives to be as good as Vin Scully. Of course, we’ll never come close. Instead, we should all focus on being as good of a human as Vin.”

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The Tao of Vin Scully XVI: Mario Impemba

As a professional play-by-play man, what can you learn about your craft simply by listening to Vin Scully today?

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== Mario Impemba (linked here), the former play-by-play man for the Angels (1995-2001) who has been with the Detroit Tigers since 2002:

“I have two that I think are important:

“No. 1: No one in the business is better at humanizing players than Vin. He has a way of making those that play the game become regular people, not just athletes or robots. He does an amazing job of flushing out personal information about players that makes you feel like you actually know them. He also is able to keep it fresh which is tough to due when you play a three or four game series or you play a team 18 times a year.

“My first year in Anaheim I would tape his broadcasts of the Freeway Series games to see how he approached the broadcast and to try to learn from him. The one thing I realized is that he knew more about Angels players and their backgrounds than I did. It was embarrassing and it opened my eyes as to how the best prepare every night.

“No. 2: His command of the English language and his grammar. Too many announcers today are more interested in catch phrases, slang and pop culture references than actually using proper English. He is uncompromising in his delivery and I respect his work because of that. He has the ability to be entertaining and yet not butcher the English language.

“One final thought. Vin has a deep knowledge of the history of the game that comes from his 60-plus years of broadcasting. That is an advantage for sure, but it doesn’t mean that younger announcers can’t study the history of the game to expand their knowledge.”

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The Tao of Vin Scully XV: Larry Kahn

As a professional play-by-play man, what can you learn about your craft simply by listening to Vin Scully today?

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== Larry Kahn (linked here), a former play-by-play man on USC football, basketball and baseball, as well as Angels baseball, who started the Sports USA syndicated radio network and does primary NFL broadcasts:

“I think that biggest thing that I learned from him is the fact that you should speak to the listener as if he or she is sitting right next to you. You have to understand that these people are inviting you to be a part of their lives for that three-hour period — or whatever amount of time it may be, longer or shorter. That means not lecturing, not acting like you know everything and they know nothing, but basically just describing and explaining what you see and trying to not only give them the mental picture, but making them feel as though they are there with you watching the game.”

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The Tao of Vin Scully XIV: Dave Caldwell

As a professional play-by-play man, what can you learn about your craft simply by listening to Vin Scully today?

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== Dave Caldwell (linked here), the voice of Cal State Northridge basketball, who has also done high school sports in Santa Clarita since 1998:

“Preparation, preparation, preparation. There is no such thing as too much preparation. When I listen to Vin Scully, he weaves his stories about players and the game with such little effort that it is clear he simply has a vast knowledge of the subject. The only way to get that knowledge is reading, talking, asking questions and creating a trust with those who play the game.

“This desire to prepare, I believe, comes first from his love of the game and it’s players. A fan doesn’t watch or listen to a game on the radio because of Vin Scully, or any play-by-play sportscaster. A fan cares about the game. He or she has a passion for the sport and its participants. Vin adds to that fans’ experience by emphasizing what is important in the game and all that surrounds the game. I have always felt that what is on the field or court in front of me — the players, coaches and the game itself — is far more important than I am. Have no ego … be filled with humility. That is Vin Scully.

“As my career progressed, I understood that more and more. As I would listen to Vin I could sense that humility, his sense that nothing is bigger than the game and all that truly matters is how it is played and by whom. He loves the game of baseball, and out of that passion comes the desire to learn more about the people who make the game so great. What matters most is the person playing the game. Treat him or her with great dignity, admiration and respect, until proven otherwise.

“My lesson? Understand the players and participants first. Know who they are and why they do what they do. They are the reason I and all who watch or listen are here. Spend time talking with these players and coaches, even the officials and administrators. I have always come away feeling richer for the conversation. I found it enhanced my own pleasure of the game and it added greatly to the experience of the viewers and listeners with whom I communicate.

“There is a craft to this play-by-play gig, but it is the art that matters more. And like a good pilot, if you get to the end of the journey and you are happy with the trip, you don’t need to know who the pilot was but you sure are appreciative when you meet him.”

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The Tao of Vin Scully XIII: Paul Sunderland

As a professional play-by-play man, what can you learn about your craft simply by listening to Vin Scully today?

It’ll be the focus of Friday’s media column. To start today’s link to the series we go to:

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== Paul Sunderland (linked here), the former Lakers’ play-by-play man (2002-05) now on college basketball and volleyball for FSW and Prime Ticket:

“I think that the lesson from Vin is an old one but rarely practiced today — Less is more. His pace, preparation and story telling mastery are unequaled. At 43, 53 or 83, however, the most important thing we have to learn from Vin may be unattainable. That is his humility, class and grace.

“I know we’re not trying not to go gushing here, but how does one not gush about Vin? He always puts the game, the players and fans first. Fans tune in, not to hear pontificating with the luxury of television pictures to cover the game. That’s why I loved doing radio and the simulcast for the Lakers.”

== Previous answers to the question as posted on the blog:
= Jim Nantz (linked here)
= Ross Porter (linked here)
= Ken Levine (linked here)
= Matt Vasgersian (linked here)
= Victor Rojas (linked here)
= Charley Steiner (linked here)
= Bob Miller (linked here)
= Nick Nickson (linked here)
= Chris Roberts (linked here)
= Ralph Lawler (linked here)
= Chris Fisher (linked here)
= Jeff Lasky (linked here)

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