Broadcaster of the Week: Matt Bullard, Houston Rockets
Posted Feb 1 2007 3:20PM
Even when my I was still competing as a player, I knew that I wanted to foray into broadcasting when my career was over. Basketball is what I am an expert at. Having played for 12 years, I felt as if I had the necessary basketball knowledge. As a player I was comfortable in front of a camera doing interviews, though that doesn’t necessarily make you a good broadcaster, but being comfortable in front of a camera definitely is a skill that you need to have. In fact, I had seen several former players try to become broadcasters and fail miserably, so I knew that it was going to take some work.
During my last three seasons as a player, I worked with the Houston Comets radio team in the summer time trying to prepare for a broadcasting career. As I did the Comets radio, I found out that there is a lot more to it than just answering questions as you would as a player. While you’ve got a producer talking in your ear, you’ve got to be able to ask relevant and timely questions. It took me a couple of years after retiring before I ended up with the Houston Rockets job. I did a lot of things for free to continue to get the experience and other things to keep my name out there including ESPN Radio and a local sports show in Houston called Sports Sunday on the local NBC affiliate. When the Rockets job became available, I felt like I was prepared and ready. I had some experience under my belt and wasn’t coming into an NBA job as a total green horn.
Once I got into TV I became comfortable at producing a lot of the things that I wanted to talk about on the Rockets’ broadcasts. I not only work during the game, but I also do the pre and postgame shows when the Rockets are playing at home. On the road, I work the color side of things. By producing a lot of the material that I want to talk about, I can allow my passion and knowledge to come through a lot more, which helps the fans stay interested. And it also takes some of the pressure off our producers to have to come up with stuff to talk about.
It hasn’t hurt, either, that I have been able to tap into the experiences of some great people in the industry and others that I have run across during my playing days. My three biggest influences have probably come from Jim Barnett, Bob Ortegel and Jim Peterson. I got to know Jim Barnett quite a bit when I was playing with the Warriors. Jim was a former player with the team who has been broadcasting for years. I’d always talk to him when I got the chance. I was familiar with Bob Ortegel of the Mavericks from my time growing up in Des Moines, Iowa. He was the head coach of Drake University at the time. Once I reached the NBA, I was able to talk to him anytime we went to Dallas. Finally Jim Petersen, the Timberwolves announcer, was a former Rocket, so we always have that connection. From them I have been able to gather many pointers here and there.
The most important thing that I learned is that it takes a lot of hard work to be able to do this job. You have to have talent for sure, but there is a lot more work that goes into it, a lot more practice. You’ve got to be willing to take criticism and direction. Just being a former player doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going to be a good broadcaster. A lot of players fall into that trap. They say, “Well I can do interviews, so I’m going to be a good broadcaster.” As a result, they don’t put any effort into it and they really fail because of it.
Because I was able to benefit from the advice that I gathered from others in the industry, I thought it would only be fitting to share these thoughts and some of my own tips to any aspiring broadcasters out there:
Matt's Broadcasting Tips for Aspiring Broadcasters
1. Don’t let your ego get in the way – In my case I had to do a lot of things for free to keep my name out there and for people to hear my work. It was important for me to get that experience, to feel more comfortable and to learn how to get my point across in a clear, concise way.
Rockets: The Second-Half Outlook
With that being said, I feel as if it would only be fitting to end with my take on the Rockets as we have embarked on the second half of the season. I have to say, I had high expectations for the team before the season because of T-Mac and Yao. Even though T-Mac started off very slow with his back, Yao just became this awesome, dominating center. He became very Hakeem Olajuwon-like in my eyes in the sense of being able to carry his team. Then when he went down, I said to myself, that’s it, the season is over. But the way that the team has been able to respond has been nothing short of incredible. T-Mac is playing great and the rest of the team has really been able to continue to play defense the way that they’re supposed to play. They’re accomplishing way more without Yao than I ever expected. But when Yao is able to come back, how is he going to integrate with the team? Are they going to be able to continue their momentum and continue the things they’ve been doing? Are they going to have to start back over from square one when he returns? That is going to be the big key for how the Rockets do towards the end of the season.
One thing is for certain, though. I’ll be right on the sidelines calling the action.
Matt Bullard made the Houston Rockets as an undrafted rookie free agent in the fall of 1990. He played four years with Houston and won an NBA Championship with the Rockets in 1994. He spent the next year playing in Greece for PAOK of Thessolaniki. He returned to the NBA with the Atlanta Hawks in 1995-96. He then rejoined the Houston Rockets and played with them for the next five years. He finished up his basketball career with the Charlotte Hornets and retired in 2002. Matt started his broadcasting career with the WNBA’s Houston Comets, then took the TV analyst job with the Houston Rockets. He shares the analyst duties with Clyde Drexler. He lives in Houston with his wife, Paula, and two children, Sara and AJ.