There are hundreds of sports media personalities out there on social media, television, newspapers and more. These are the people young journalists like ourselves look up to in some capacity, and that’s why the DC Sports staff gives its takes on favorite personalities in sports media in this week’s edition of the Roundtable.
Outside of that Dan Madigan guy from a certain SB Nation site? It is probably toss up between ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Barstool Sports’ Pardon My Take crew (Big Cat, Handsome Hank, and PFT Commenter). Anything they put out is must-consume for me. I really, really get a kick from Pardon My Take, and PFT and Big Cat have two of the funniest twitters in my opinion. PFT has incredible wit while Big Cat is hilariously relatable. But I will ultimately give the “favorite” nod to Lowe.
Lowe’s writing style is rare. He writes incredibly intelligently but often in an informal and almost conversational tone that is easy to read. He has great statistical analysis, understanding for basketball’s nuance and sources out a good deal of his information. He attacks complexities of the NBA in the same way he approaches popcorn issues and reading him is always informative and enjoyable. That’s what I want: knowledge and engagement. Barstool Sports’ motto is “By the common man, for the common man.” His Ivy league education notwithstanding, the way Lowe articulates is that of “by the common fan, for the common fan” even though his knowledge and ability to communicate said knowledge is so much more. Every time I read a piece by him it is with ease, and I leave better educated and having taken pleasure in reading it.
Rob Perez. If you’re an NBA fan and you’re not following him on Twitter… you must not be on Twitter. His Grace of Pettiness will keep you up to date on everything throughout the league with shaky phone videos and Knicks pitty. You can get lost refreshing his feed and have just as much fun, if not more fun than watching the games yourself. Everything he sees is turned into a joke. Oh, and his Twitter avatar is Adam Silver’s face with a cape; he's not afraid to change that based on how he's feeling too. No NBA action one night? Don't worry, Wob goes out of his way to live stream his commentary of police chases. So go do yourself a favor and follow @worldwidewob. You won't regret it I guarantee it.
Associate Sports Editor
If you haven’t heard of Katie Nolan, then you’re doing something wrong. Katie has just signed on with ESPN and made appearances on Highly Questionable, the SportsCenter Snapchat account and a few others. Previously, she hosted an Emmy Award-winning show on Fox Sports Network called Garbage Time with Katie Nolan, providing a satirical approach to sports while also dropping some quality content. Katie knows her stuff about as well as anyone, and knows how to be funny and clever about sports in a world. The only knock on Nolan is her love for Boston sports, but the fact that I still keep tabs on whatever content she puts out there should tell you how awesome she is.
I also have to throw an honorable mention at Max Kellerman, Stephen A. Smith’s counterpart on First Take. Kellerman is a fantastic follow on Twitter and on television for the eloquence with which he speaks about sensitive topics in and out of the realm of sports, as well as the wide spectrum of knowledge he has in all things sports, something he displays on a daily basis on First Take. If you want good sports takes, follow Kellerman.
Growing up a Boston Celtics fan, there are few voices that remind me of home more than that of commentator and retired former Celtic Tommy Heinsohn. No one quite embodies the Celtic spirit like Heinsohn, who has been a part of the team in some capacity (playing, coaching, or commentating) for all 17 championships. Heinsohn creates an intimate vibe that appeals to viewers with his calling style, often referring to players by their first names and giving out a nightly ‘Tommy Point’ for a play that showed an exceptional amount of hustle or heart. Fans of opposing teams or neutral spectators may find him almost unbearable to listen to because of his obvious biases towards the Celtics and complaints about seemingly-fair officiating that doesn’t go Boston’s way. However, in most games he calls, Heinsohn usually finds a way to compliment or credit a deserving opposing player or coach. While Heinsohn doesn’t rely on specific statistics like many basketball commentators these days, he has a natural eye for the game and has a refreshing instinct for knowing what to say and when to say it.
For me, this is a little bit of a toss-up. I’ve been a huge Bill Simmons fan since the day I read “The Book of Basketball,” and I continue to read NBA articles on his site, The Ringer, just about every day. Then there’s my favorite writer on the site, Kevin O’Connor, a guy whose new-age takes on the NBA appeal perfectly to me and whose informed but still fun style of writing is the type of writing I personally try for myself. But the number one choice for me has to be the seven-foot Deadhead Bill Walton. A guy that’s one of my favorite NBA players ever because of his sensational passing for his height, he’s now an endless supply of wacky quotes, tie-dye t-shirts, and peace signs in his Instagram pictures. If you’re more a fan of serious game commentary, take a pass on Walton, but if you want to hear someone talk about how Miles Bridges isn’t related to the Golden Gate Bridge, or hear emphatic barking during a UConn game, tune in to the man himself Chill Bill.
While he doesn’t have a huge social media presence and is not all that well known outside of New England area, Gary Cohen of SNY is one of my favorite sports media personalities. Cohen is best known for commentating New York Mets games on SNY with former Mets Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez. As a Mets fan, he is without a doubt my favorite T.V commentator as he calls games with a true passion of both the Mets and the game of baseball as a whole. He always has insight and a great knowledge of the entire Mets organization, from the big league roster to the minor leagues and uses it to keep the commentating flowing. There’s never a real dull moment during a broadcast with Gary because he never really stops talking. He can quickly go from telling a story about Noah Syndergaard in high school to emphatically calling a home run, and then smoothly work his way back to the story he was telling. Watching a Mets game called by anyone else just isn’t the same and a Mets win, no matter how few of them there are, are always better when Gary ends it with his signature “and the ballgame is OVER.”
My favorite sports media personality is very well known, but not for his work as a broadcaster, at least not yet. Tony Romo, former quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, is surprisingly killing it in his new role. Currently working for CBS Sports, Romo has been making headlines as a color commentator. The most interesting thing about his commentating is his uncanny ability to predict the next play. In his debut, he correctly guessed about a dozen different plays throughout the matchup between the Oakland Raiders and Tennessee Titans. However, the best part about Romo is that he is new to broadcasting, and only can improve. If he is this good when he is starting out, I cannot wait to see how good he will be five, ten or twenty years down the line.
The best sports media personality belongs to Scott Van Pelt. He has become the face of late night sports broadcasting and continues to deliver each and every day. His deep insights, light-hearted personality and extensive knowledge of the world of sports keeps night owls like myself glued to the TV in the early hours of the morning. What individual has gotten their own logo, especially in the sports world? Everybody loves the bald guy who talks sports to you when you should be doing something else. Sportscenter, and more specifically ESPN, had been in the news for the wrong reasons when they let go several employees over the past few months. Van Pelt is now at the center of a much smaller nucleus of faces making up the ESPN family of channels and shows. Van Pelt continues to keep ESPN afloat and will continue to do so simply because of his personality.
My good friend Kevin Arnold touched on this earlier by talking about the SNY crew. While it’s so hard to single them and the WOR broadcasters out as best, I have to go with Keith Hernandez. Keith brings something to the media world that you don’t often see-- blatant disdain for his job. I’m kidding, of course, but Keith in extra innings might actually be the best gift given to us in this unforgiving world. Keith makes sexist jokes sometimes, Keith will talk smack about the Mets sometimes (a lot of times), Keith will become so delirious and tired that he will have no filter sometimes. He makes watching the Mets worth it, and that’s a pretty hard task to accomplish.
Jeff Jacobs is The King. The Hartford Courant sports columnist consistently finds fun and insightful ways to look at the oddities of UConn athletics, like the time he tried to track down the Civil ConFLiCT trophy, calling sources all over the country to find the answer. Jacobs provides an endless stream of quotables and spits hot fire when teams or players deserve it. He’s a wizard with a keyboard.