Kevin Calabro

Lamar Hurd celebrates Kevin Calabro, says he stood ‘for people who need his voice’

Lamar Hurd celebrates Kevin Calabro, says he stood ‘for people who need his voice’

After joining the Portland Trail Blazers in 2016, play-by-play announcer Kevin Calabro stepped down on Wednesday.

The move, which Calabro called an opportunity to “hit the pause button and coast a little,”came as a surprise to fans in Rip City who will miss the legendary voice on the Blazers call. 

But perhaps no one will miss Calabro more than Lamar Hurd, who has been calling games on the Trail Blazers sideline with Calabro since 2016-17 season.

[RELATED: Let's re-live some of Kevin Calabro's most memorable play calls]

In a thread on social media Wednesday, Hurd recounted a time in 2016 when Ernie Johnson and the TNT crew requested to interview Calabro about his return to an NBA team. Calabro insisted the only way he would do the interview would be if his partner, Hurd, could also be part of the interview. TNT accepted and the duo did the interview side by side.  

Then of course they had many memories: on the team plane, media room, and even a diversity/equity/inclusion class. According to Hurd, Calabro “stood and still stands for people who need his voice.”

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon]

Like Hurd, NBCSNW Trail Blazers reporter Jamie Hudson shared a special moment with Calabro when he joined The Scoop podcast back in January 2019. The two took a trip down memory lane and reflected on Calabro’s 20-plus years on the call for the SuperSonics.

After years of phenomenal calls like the Dame “bad shot” over OKC, Calabro leaves Rip City better than he found it. He will be missed in Portland!   

[RELATED: Jaynes: Kevin Calabro: The Trail Blazers 'have taken great care of us']

Kevin Calabro: The Trail Blazers 'have taken great care of us'

Kevin Calabro: The Trail Blazers 'have taken great care of us'

Kevin Calabro decided to just step away from the microphone for a while. Not retire, just step away.

“It was a very tough decision,” Calabro said Wednesday. “But all these years of travel, of being away, this is a good time to bring the focus back to my family.”

Calabro, the television voice of the Trail Blazers for the last four seasons, probably couldn’t have picked a better time to take a break.

The NBA is getting ready to deal with a return-to-play scenario that includes the Trail Blazers playing eight games in empty arenas in Orlando, Fla. Media broadcasting those games on a local or regional level will be doing so from studios or arenas in their home city.

Even next season, there is real doubt about the possibility of broadcasting games -- or having fans present -- at NBA game sites.

That makes working those games more of a challenge and, frankly, less fun.

Calabro and his wife, Sue, have maintained a residence in Portland but their home base is still in Seattle. That commute can be difficult in the winter.

Calabro made it clear that he wasn’t leaving because of any problems with the Trail Blazers.

“It has nothing to do with the Trail Blazers,” he said. “They have taken great care of us. That’s what has made the decision so difficult.

“It was just time to do it.”

And this isn’t retirement.

“I’ll always work,” he said. “When I decided I wasn’t going to follow the Sonics to Oklahoma City, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do but I did a talk show and I even did a year of soccer. I got freelance opportunities -- it was good.”

Calabro even did hockey play-by-play for a season right after college. He’s a great pro able to broadcast just about anything, with what Blazer sideline reporter Brooke Olzendam calls “the best pipes in the business.”

He won’t lack for opportunity.

A Kevin Calabro memory: Sitting down with TV voice of the Blazers on The Scoop Podcast

A Kevin Calabro memory: Sitting down with TV voice of the Blazers on The Scoop Podcast

Now that NBCSNW has learned that Portland Trail Blazers Television Play-By-Play announcer Kevin Calabro is stepping down after four years with the Trail Blazers, we are reminiscing about some of our favorite Calabro moments and calls.

One of my favorite memories was sitting down with Calabro on The Scoop Podcast back in Jan. of 2019.

We took a trip down memory lane to when Calabro used to call the Seattle SuperSonics games, which he did for 20 plus years. We discussed how he misses those battles between the Sonics and the Trail Blazers.

I really looked forward to the I-5 rivalry and that became super heated when the Sonics got [coach] George Karl in 1992-93, because the first thing that George came in and did was he really wanted to ignite the rivalry between the Blazers and the Sonics, and the Sonics and the Utah Jazz… I remember some classic battles that the two squads had… Nothing like it. -- Kevin Calabro on The Scoop Podcast

We also talked camping, golfing, and traveling all over the country!

Thanks for the memories, the phenomenal calls, and the advice and insight, Calabro!  

You will be missed in Rip City.

[RELATED]: Social media reacts to Kevin Calabro stepping down as Blazers TV voice

Trail Blazers Television Studio Host Jordan Kent will be filling the role of play-by-play broadcaster for the remainder of the 2019-20 season set to tip off on July 31 in Orlando.

Listen to the entire Scoop Podcast with Kevin Calabro right here

Social media reacts to Kevin Calabro stepping down as Blazers TV voice

Social media reacts to Kevin Calabro stepping down as Blazers TV voice

Kevin Calabro is saying so long.

NBC Sports Northwest learned Wednesday that the Portland Trail Blazers play-by-play broadcaster was stepping down. 

NBCSNW has confirmed that Jordan Kent will handle play-by-play duties in Orlando during the NBA's eight-game resumption.John Canzano was the first to report news of Calabro’s departure.

Calabro joined the Trail Blazers in June 2016 after spending 21 years as the longtime voice of the Seattle SuperSonics. He opted not to move with the team when they departed to Oklahoma City. He became a regular postseason play-by-play announcer for ESPN Radio, Turner Broadcasting and NBATV and a member of the Westwood One Radio announcer team for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament before joining the Blazers.

While Calabro’s time on the Trail Blazers sideline was short, fans will always remember him for his legendary calls, including the Damian Lillard “bad shot” over OKC.

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon]

Calabro will surely be missed in Rip City. Fans on social media took a moment to thank Calabro and wish him well in his future endeavors.

Trail Blazers TV play-by-play announcer Kevin Calabro steps down

Trail Blazers TV play-by-play announcer Kevin Calabro steps down

Portland Trail Blazers Television Play-By-Play announcer Kevin Calabro is stepping down after four years with the Trail Blazers to focus on his family, NBCSNW has learned. 

“This was a very difficult decision to make and I want to thank the Allen family and Chris McGowan for their support and understanding,” said Calabro. “I’ll always be grateful to the Rip City fans for welcoming me into the family.” 

John Canzano was the first to report

“Kevin brought years of experience and professionalism to the Trail Blazers broadcast team with a one-of-a-kind voice that is unmistakable,” said Chris McGowan, President and CEO of the Trail Blazers and Rose Quarter. “We appreciate Kevin sharing his energy and talents with Rip City and wish him the best in his next chapter.”

Trail Blazers Television Studio Host Jordan Kent will be filling the role of play-by-play broadcaster for the remainder of the 2019-20 season set to tip off on July 31 in Orlando.

Calabro joined the Trail Blazers in June 2016 after spending 21 years as the longtime voice of the Seattle SuperSonics. He opted not to move with the team when they departed to Oklahoma City. He became a regular postseason play-by-play announcer for ESPN Radio, Turner Broadcasting and NBATV and a member of the Westwood One Radio announcer team for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament before joining the Blazers. 

While Calabro’s time on the Trail Blazers sideline was short, fans will always remember him for his legendary calls, including the Damian Lillard “bad shot” over OKC.

 

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon]

 

Trail Blazers and dogs... what more do you need?

Trail Blazers and dogs... what more do you need?

In a time where we need the feel goods: Presenting the combination of your favorite team and man's best friend. 

DognamedStella is an Instagram account chronicling the life of a yellow lab named Stella, and her fur pal Mabel. 

One of Stella's claims to fame is jumping into a giant pile of leaves. 

The account has amassed nearly 400 thousand followers, all of whom love a good dog video. 

On Monday, a mash-up of Stella's videos hit Twitter with the caption, "we all – and I cannot stress this enough – need this right now. possibly the greatest short film ever made."

The attempt to bring a little happiness to the world did not go unnoticed, as the Tweet earned 61.5K retweets and 199.6k likes in less than 48 hours

This is where the smile on all of our faces gets even bigger. 

The Trail Blazers' social media team saw the video and took advantage. The result was a video that no one in Rip City knew they needed but now can't live without: Dogs jumping into piles of leaves, narrated by Kevin Calabro and Lamar Hurd.

Stella's effortless acrobatics paired with Calabro and Hurd's silky smooth voices... Perfection! If the website with less me, I'd put a chef kiss gif here... muah!

Fans of dogs and the Trail Blazers alike loved the combo:

 

The Bridge Podcast with Kevin Calabro, TV play-by-play voice of the Portland Trail Blazers

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NBCS NW

The Bridge Podcast with Kevin Calabro, TV play-by-play voice of the Portland Trail Blazers

Justin Myers sits down with Kevin Calabro, the TV play-by-play voice of the Portland Trail Blazers.

Of course getting excited for the season to kick off, the two dig into Calabro's time in Indiana calling high school basketball games, hockey games, and transitioning into his job here with the Portland Trail Blazers.

A lot of fun stories, and a lot of great experiences on the road to calling for the Blazers.

Listen here:

Let's get a few things straightened out about Trail Blazer announcers

Let's get a few things straightened out about Trail Blazer announcers

I knew the Trail Blazers were opening the door to a lot of criticism when they let go of television broadcasters Mike Barrett and Mike Rice last summer. They were at it a long time here and very popular among the local fan base.

I've seen and heard comments on social media and in the concourse of Moda Center that have surprised me and I think it's time to set the record straight -- at least my conception of the record. Some random thoughts about the situation:

  • I cannot believe how many people say that Calabro isn't enough of a homer for them. What I've heard more than once is, "He doesn't even say 'we' or 'us' when he's talking about the Trail Blazers." This is usually spoken as if Barrett constantly used those words. He didn't. And I never considered Mike a homer. Did he lean toward the home team? Of course -- as does Calabro. But please, don't paint Barrett as an out-and-out homer. He wasn't. He called games pretty straight by today's standards.
  • Mike Rice? That's a different story. He was very comfortable in his role as the hometown analyst, going as far as making fun of opposing coaches or players and making snide remarks about players who were once Blazers -- things he'd never have said while they were playing here. And the sniping at the referees -- wow. All of that is part of what made him such a fan favorite here -- he was saying things a lot of fans would have said. It worked for him.
  • For me, I have no problem with announcers being more excited about the home team. What grates on me the most is when they say things about the competition that they'd never say about the home team. You should treat both teams the same when it comes to criticism. Even if you're a homer. Don't make light of an opposing coach for doing something and then ignore it or praise it when your coach does the same thing. That's the very essence of a homer.
  • I think most of the time, the analyst naturally ends up being more of a homer than the play-by-play man. By nature, the one doing play-by-play is delivering facts while the analyst is analyzing -- which is subjective and often leads to commentary.
  • For all those fans who want a homer, I'd ask simply, "How do you trust that?" If there's a bias there, aren't you worried that you're going to get things sugar coated? Do you care if you get truth? Apparently not.
  • Kevin Calabro is one of the very best in the business. If you don't enjoy listening to him, I'd suggest you just give it time. With all announcers, there is a getting-acquainted time. The longer you listen to them, for the most part, the better you like them. It's a matter of familiarity.
  • Mike Barrett is also one of the best. I have no doubt that if he was willing to relocate, he'd already be working for another team, either in the NBA or another sport. He's that good. I also believe he'll eventually end up with a great gig around here somewhere, if that's what he wants.
  • Just throwing this out there: I grew up in a time when broadcasters most often worked for the radio or TV stations, rather than the teams. They still were partial to the teams they broadcast, but weren't under their thumb. They could reasonably say what was appropriate and obvious. I miss that system.
  • You have no idea how much pressure many franchises in various sports put on their broadcasters to basically sell tickets rather than broadcast games. They want the best spin on everything that happens during a game, no matter how ridiculous that can be sometimes. I feel for those people who often end up trying to paint a happy face on a sports disaster.
  • Franchises need to understand the value of allowing their broadcasters to call games down the middle. It gives the fan base confidence in them -- so when they do praise the home team, people actually believe it, rather than think it's just another spoonful of sugar.
  • Two words in that regard: Vin Scully.
  • You have no idea how difficult it is to do what great play-by-play broadcasters do. Or maybe you do. People like Calabro and Barrett work extremely hard to make their job sound easy. I have nothing but admiration for their talent.

Blazers turning page on broadcast team

Blazers turning page on broadcast team

The Trail Blazers made it official this morning in a news release about broadcasters Mike Barrett, Mike Rice and Antonio Harvey -- they will not return next season. The team's president and CEO made this comment in the release:

“After reviewing our entire broadcast operation over the past couple of seasons, I felt it was a good time for us to transition into a new direction,” Chris McGowan said. “I would like to thank our broadcasters for their years of dedicated service to our organization and wish them nothing but success in their future endeavors. Going forward, we will focus our efforts on a national search to fill our open TV broadcast positions, with the number one goal of bringing in top-notch talent that our fans will be excited to watch during Trail Blazers broadcasts.”

The broadcasters I was able to reach did not choose to comment on the sudden and unexpected news. Of the three, the most unexpected move was Barrett, who has been the team's television play-by-play voice since 2003.

At this point, I have nothing to report about the team's plans. But I would guess that at some point Kevin Calabro, the Bill Schonely of Seattle, will be considered for Barrett's job. Just a guess, but I assume Trail Blazer owner Paul Allen has an affinity for Calabro after listening to him in Seattle for so many seasons. And as long as we're thinking about a Seattle connection, former Trail Blazer coach P..J. Carlesimo also lives there and does a lot of broadcast work for ESPN. He might want to be a little closer to home and would make sense as Rice's replacement.

I don't think moves like this are made without replacements in mind.

 

 

There's a coaching gap in NBA Finals but Cavs will be better in Game 2

There's a coaching gap in NBA Finals but Cavs will be better in Game 2

Some thoughts about Game 1 of the NBA Finals after a very convincing Golden State win:

  • There is no question that the Cavaliers suffered from playing all those mediocre Eastern Conference opponents. There isn't a lot that prepares you for facing a defensive buzzsaw like the Warriors but certainly the Raptors and Hawks did Cleveland no good. I would expect the Cavs to improve now that they've experienced the relentlessness and cohesiveness of Golden State's powerful defense.
  • That said, Cleveland is no Oklahoma City Thunder. The Warriors seemed much more confident and comfortable against this crew.
  • The Warriors are so good on offense that people forget their defense. I can't remember a team in the three-point era that manages to clog the middle yet still close out on three-point shooters as effectively as the Warriors. That defense left Cleveland looking confused and ineffective most of the night. Welcome to the big time, Cavs. There is a reason these guys won 73 games and it obviously wasn't just because they have a couple of guards who (usually) make shots.
  • I thought it was a good idea when Cleveland made a coaching change in mid-season -- it seemed nobody was listening to David Blatt -- but I wasn't enthused that the Cavs once again hired a head man without previous experience running an NBA team. To hire back-to-back head coaches without experience shows a surprising lack of respect for how difficult the job is. I know there are a lot of fans who believe coaching doesn't matter in the NBA -- that it's all talent. Well, watch a tape of Thursday night's game and tell me that.
  • There is a coaching gap here. I would love to watch a few Steve Kerr practices but what that team does at the defensive end, the way their players cover for each other, requires a lot of practice and some very intelligent players.
  • And speaking of defense, the Cavs' scheme wasn't very sophisticated and allowed way too many open shots and dunks. THIS IS THE FINALS, guys. Allowing uncontested shots is no way to win.
  • Speaking of that -- this is the NBA Finals in 2016 and that isolation stuff just isn't going to hold up against a great defensive team. Move the ball and move bodies, Cavaliers, and you might get some open shots.
  • There is no substitute for experienced and smart players off the bench. We've seen that in Portland, too, as the franchise has matured. The Warriors bench was sensational on the big stage and those players' success in Game 1 is testimony to how much they played in the regular season and playoffs leading up to this game. Kerr goes deep to the bench in most games and that raises those players' confidence levels.
  • Andre Iguodala is so talented at both ends of the court and is a terrific asset off the bench. He's versatile enough to defend several positions and is not afraid to take big shots. His offensive improvement has surprised me because this is a player who used to be something of a liability on offense early in his career at Philadelphia.
  • Two things are likely in Game 2 -- Cleveland will adjust and play much better, particularly on offense. And Golden State, which found things way too easy on Thursday, will probably be worse. It's human nature.
  • Caught part of the game on radio and I must tell you, it's such a pleasure to listen to Kevin Calabro call a game. It was a genius move by ESPN to hire Calabro as its main NBA radio voice. The former play by play man for the Sonics is such a pro and conveys the excitement of the event without turning into a crazy man.