The New York Knicks have made some intriguing roster moves this offseason, and while there is still tinkering and adding to be done, it’s time to start looking ahead towards the upcoming season. The most important aspect to worry about, certainly, is how the changes will affect MSG Network’s broadcasts of Knicks games. More specifically, what things may fly out of Clyde Frazier’s mouth, and how he might say them.
Listening to Clyde call Knicks game offers a distinct experience. If listening to your standard basketball color commentator is akin to watching a Lawrence Welk PBS telethon special at home on a standard definition television, listening to Clyde is going to see Pacific Rim at an IMAX theater while sitting next to Idris Elba. This isn’t to say that one or the other is a better, more engaging, more meaningful experience. It’s personal preference, yes, but it’s just apples and oranges.
Of course, Clyde is best known for his rhymes. “Spinnin’ and winnin’, “Bounding and astounding”, “Posting and toasting” and phrases of the like are an elemental part of watching Knicks basketball on television. But there are also other subtleties of Clyde’s broadcasting style (if you can call it that) that only the truest of Knicks diehards pick up on. My personal favorite is the often complete disregard for actually engaging in any breakdown of strategy, or providing any comment on general NBA news or happenings with partner Mike Breen. Unlike other color commentators, Clyde doesn’t seem to have much interest in these endeavors. Often on a Knicks broadcast, a scenario like this will play out:
Mike Breen: “You know, Clyde. Everybody is always talking about LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, and there’s no question those are the most important players on this Miami team. But you look at a player like Shane Battier, who came here and took a lesser role and has excelled and embraced that role, and has become a crucial veteran voice off the court as well. He’s truly one of the top role players in the league.”
To which Clyde responds with:
Clyde Frazier: “Yyyyyyyyyyyyup. Melo now percolating from the outside. Previously J.R. haunting the Heat from deep.”
Things like this happen quite often during a Knick game. Sometimes if the Knicks are on national television, I cheat on MSG and watch the other network. It is nice, every so often, to listen to Hubie Brown or Mike Fratello or whoever actually examine what’s happening on the court and offer an explanation, but I always return home to MSG. The first butchering of a name from Clyde promtply reaffirms my first and only true love. Which brings us to this: What can we expect from Clyde this upcoming season? The possible nicknames, catchphrases and mispronunciations are intriguing.
I will start with actually giving Clyde some credit. If you don’t already know, Clyde pronounces Andrea Bargnani as “barn YAR ni”. This is so damn close to being the perfect, Italian pronunciation. It’s like watching your kid learn to ride a bike without training wheels. You’re right there! Just balance yourself! Almost! (Note: I do not have a kid.) I took Italian for five years. One of the few things I retained was that the combination of letters “g” and “n”, in that order, make a “ny” sound (think “gnocchi”, the awesome potato-pasta). So the true way to say Andrea’s last name name is “barn YAH ni”. How did Clyde get this close? I have no idea. This is a man who pronounces “Bosh” as “Barsh”. There’s the pesky little second “r” towards the end of “barn YAR ni” that Clyde made up and can’t seem to shake. We’re going to hear this a lot this season, and each time Clyde says it, just know that he’s almost nailing it. And that is pretty astonishing.
Metta World Peace provides endless possibilities. There will probably be rhymes, “World Peace with the quick release!” (which is something Metta does not at all have, but that doesn’t matter a bit). There will be close-rhymes, “Fans outta their seats cheering for World Peace!” There could be a catchphrase, “The Knicks doing their part to spread World Peace, now!” or “World Peace prevents another attack!” Potential shot-in-the-dark nicknames could be something including “Metta-physical” or “Metta-phorical”. Maybe he’ll put it all together and drop something like “The Metta-phorical, Metta-phyiscal, Mystifying World Peace!” These make no actual sense, which is why they are very good candidates.
I will put money on a “Like father, like son!” when Tim Hardaway, Jr. hits his first NBA 3-pointer. And there could be something like “Hardaway does it the easy way”, if the kid finishes off a drive with a layup. Hopefully Kenyon Martin is back so we can hear the criminally-underused “Attention K-Mart shoppers!” that he broke out a few times late last season. Unfortunately, gone is Steve Novak, who Clyde started calling “Novakaine” not just as a nickname, but as though it were his actual, parent-given name. He wouldn’t just shout it out after a made three; it got to the point where Clyde would use it in normal sentences, like, “Woodson has some shooters on the bench, like J.R. and Novakaine.” It was special, even by Clyde’s lofty standards.
As we said before, the roster is yet to be filled out. The Knicks are one of the teams interested and apparently in discussions with guard Bobby Brown, who has has been playing overseas. I’m not quite sure if there’s a Clyde rhyme or nickname in there, but I really hope the Knicks sign Brown because I think there’s a very real possibility for Clyde to drop a “singer/drug-addict/Whitney Houston’s ex-husband” reference. “Bobby Brown, high as a kite!” on a garbage time dunk isn’t out of the question, which would cause Breen’s deep belly laugh that he busts out when something is legitimately funny; this always ends quickly because Breen is a good enough company man when he needs to be.
I’ve always wanted the Knicks to sign Lou Amundson. He’s a good rebounder and defender and a current free agent, but mostly because has one of the great Clyde-butchered names of all time: “Arminson”. Again, Clyde feels the need to default to a random “r” when he has no idea what’s going on, like in “barn YAR ni”, or in “Barsh” just because, why the hell not, I guess.
Beno Udrih is an option as a backup guard for the Knicks. I don’t think I’ve heard Clyde say his name, but I’m sure it would be something like “YOU-dreetch”. Let’s hope this happens.
It’s would be an interesting season for the Knicks regardless of who calls the games, but the many new possible Clydeisms have me more interested than usual.