If the viewers put away the standings and calendar, it may have been difficult to remember that Wednesday’s 122-119 win over the Toronto Raptors on Comcast SportsNet was the 76ers’ final game of the NBA season. That’s because, by listening to play-by-play broadcaster Marc Zumoff, they could have got the impression the team was making a playoff run. Just as the Sixers have been applauded for not playing out the string, Zumoff deserves similar credit. In a grinding, 82-game NBA schedule, when it would have been easy to mail in a performance or two, Zumoff never lost his enthusiasm.
As Willie Green continued to make one three-pointer after another en route to a career high 37 points, Zumoff’s level of excitement increased.
Zumoff and analyst Steve Mix just completed their 13th season together, and the chemistry the two have is apparent.
Neither tries to compete with the other, as some announcers do. Instead, they blend well.
The most difficult part for any play-by-play announcer is getting excited without going overboard. Nobody wants to hear somebody screaming the entire game.
Zumoff is able to strike that delicate balance, and it wasn’t just in the final game. When the Sixers were going through a 12-game losing streak or a seven-game winning streak, Zumoff remained the same – excited about his job.
Despite their 35-47 record, the Sixers played several close games that went down to the wire – and that is when Zumoff was at his best catching the drama of the situation.
Wednesday’s game was another example.
Another example of Zumoff’s professionalism is his preparation. Sometimes, broadcasters throw fact after fact at the viewer about the team. The good ones know how to selectively use information without bombarding the viewer with a glut of statistics.
There may not be a more prestigious job than serving as a play-by-play announcer for any professional sports team – especially the big four of football, baseball, basketball and hockey.
When listening to Zumoff, one gets the impression that he realizes how fortunate he is to have such a coveted job.
During Wednesday’s game, the viewer could have gotten the impression that both Zumoff and Mix were sad to see this long season end. In fact, both talked about how well the Sixers played, going 30-29 since the Dec. 19 trade of Allen Iverson.
Zumoff closed out the telecast by talking about what seems like a promising future, especially since the Sixers own three first-round picks in the upcoming NBA draft.
While it must be kept in mind that the announcers are employees of the team, Zumoff has never broadcast in a “homer” style. Sure, he wants the 76ers to win, but he does a good job of straddling that line of neutrality.
He and Mix mentioned before signing off that they were looking forward to starting another season in October. The viewer should feel the same.
No matter what improvements the Sixers make in the off-season, one thing is certain: Zumoff is likely to be on top of his game when the season begins.