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George Blaha, trendsetter

At the end of his notes column on Grantland, Zach Lowe has a nice shoutout to Pistons broadcaster George Blaha:

10. “Glasser”

This is the work of George Blaha, Detroit’s play-by-play TV guy for nearly 40 years. At first it seemed like an attention grab — a needless attempt to coin some sort of basketball colloquialism when “banker” or “bank shot” would do. But damn if “glasser” hasn’t grown on me over the years, to the point where it pops into my head even when someone knocks down a bank shot in a non-Pistons game. Flashing a really nice glasser this year, by the way: Brook Lopez.

Like most Pistons fans, I’ve grown up listening to Blaha. And Lowe is right — far too often, broadcasters force words or descriptions down the throats of viewers in an effort to be clever. But what makes Blaha’s lingo stick is it always feels so genuine and just flows as a result of the emotion of the game. I’ve always been a Blaha fan, but I’ve grown to appreciate him even more in recent years as NBA TV has given everyone a chance to hear how truly awful some of the local broadcasters are. Blaha is truly a legend among his peers.

19 Comments

  • Nov 27, 20122:19 pm
    by RationalSportsFan

    Reply

    Blaha’s use of “the hoop…and the harm!” for an and-one is by far my favorite Blaha-ism.

  • Nov 27, 20122:21 pm
    by Sean Corp

    Reply

    Hear hear! I know he has all his alliterative lingo in his mental rolodex during games but he effortlessly makes it all sound like it is a spontaneous reaction to the games. 

    Also, he possesses an under-appreciated trait among sports announcers — being equally positive about the visiting team as he is about the Pistons so as to avoid excessive homerism.  And he also never really complains about officiating and Greg and George call calls and non-calls pretty much how they see them. 

    • Nov 27, 20122:27 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Definitely all very underrated traits that a lot of local announcing teams that I’ve listened to on NBA TV struggle with. On the rare occasions they get worked up about a call/non-call, I always love how they back down and admit they were wrong if the replay shows it. It’s surprising how many announcers (* cough * Sean Elliott * couch *) will keep harping on a wrong opinion even in the face of video evidence showing it’s wrong.

  • Nov 27, 20122:43 pm
    by Michelob Mike

    Reply

    I still like the classic “lays it up…and lays it in,” just has a nice rhythm to it

  • Nov 27, 20122:47 pm
    by Desolation Row

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    So true, my expectations were set incredibly high having grown up with Blaha calling the Pistons games. When I had cable here in the Bay Area, I thought the local broadcasting for the Warriors was a complete joke. Then I got League Pass and realized that such calling was the rule rather than the exception. Blaha is a legend in his own right, so glad he’s gotten the national attention for it. Pistons fans have been spoiled.

  • Nov 27, 20122:48 pm
    by Gareth Masters

    Reply

    When it comes to glass-related Blaha-isms I always think of his “off the high glass” comment rather than glasser, but there we go.

    Couple of other favourites:

    “Count that baby …and a foul!” (Usually about 10 seconds after the bucket!)

    “Scoops and scores!” 

  • Nov 27, 20122:50 pm
    by Michelob Mike

    Reply

    ‘off the high glass’ is great because it’s usually ‘off the HIGH GLASS and he hits it’ because it’s usually a surprise when a player does it.

    • Nov 27, 20122:52 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Yep, love that he differentiates between the ‘high’ glass and the regular glass. That’s great attention to detail.

  • Nov 27, 20122:50 pm
    by Scott Free

    Reply

    Kind of hope they could retire a jersey in Blahas honor if/when he chooses to retire.  Pistons basketball will just sound weird without him.

  • Nov 27, 20122:51 pm
    by Michelob Mike

    Reply

    another favorite is when T-Rob elbowed Jerebko and he yelled ‘GET HIM OUTTA HERE!’ haha, I could picture him ready to climb over the desk and go after him.

  • Nov 27, 20122:59 pm
    by D_S_V

    Reply

    I’m a huge Blaha fan. But his unrelenting reminders last night of how Knight “won the battle” with Lillard were bordering on and perhaps engaging in overkill. Oh well. He’ll always be a homer, but he does it with class, sophistication, and most importantly, pizazz. Feel sorry for him and Kelser  trudging through these last few years without much reason for excitement.

  • Nov 27, 20123:12 pm
    by DasMark

    Reply

    I always enjoyed Blaha. When the Pistons were getting regular national televised games, I would always watch it on Fox Sports, because Blaha was so much more entertaining. 

    It wasn’t until I moved around the US a little, and heard other local play callers did I really appreciate how talented Blaha is. I currently live in the Memphis area, and Brevin Knight should have the microphone taken away.  

  • Nov 27, 20124:44 pm
    by Darin

    Reply

    Love Blaha. I have league pass so im able to listen to a lot of different callers. As some have mentioned Blaha does have his moments when he shows off his homerism but for the most part he and Kessler keep it in check which I like. 

  • Nov 27, 20125:15 pm
    by Matt

    Reply

    One of the really nice things about Blaha is that he always sounds genuinely excited to be doing what he’s doing, which has the tendency to make the broadcasts feel like an event (even if they don’t deserve to feel that way). Since he and Kelser have been teamed up for so long, they’ve developed a nice rapport and flow well with each other.

    I also appreciate that they aren’t blatant homers (sure, they’re rooting for the Pistons, but it doesn’t typically affect their judgement on foul calls, etc.)

    Living out in New England for over 15 years, I found out all too well what a crappy, homertastic announcer sounds like.

    • Nov 27, 20125:17 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Haha … Heinsohn is in his own category by himself when it comes to homerism.

    • Nov 27, 20127:27 pm
      by Haan

      Reply

      Good points, Matt.  Of course, I’d noticed Blaha’s enthusiasm, but I hadn’t thought of it as creating an event.  Tough to doing with so many games, and after so many years.

  • Nov 27, 20125:21 pm
    by R

    Reply

    my list

    1. kevin calabro (sonics)
    2. blaha



    last. tommy heinsohn 

  • Nov 27, 20125:40 pm
    by Mark Byron

    Reply

    We’ve got a routine at home, where my wife and I make chicken noises for “Count that baby and a fowl” whenever an and-1 happens.

  • Nov 27, 20127:40 pm
    by bvpiston

    Reply

    I sure will miss George Blaha when he retires, I wonder who will take his place. I liked McLeod a few years ago, when he was calling our games with Greg Kelser, maybe they snatch him back.

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