Give-and-Go: Hornets TV broadcaster Joel Meyers

By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer

Joel MeyersThis is the latest edition of “Give-and-Go,” a periodic Hornets.com feature in which Hornets players and other team personnel respond to questions from fans. In this installment, new New Orleans television play-by-play broadcaster Joel Meyers answers Twitter questions sent to @Jim_Eichenhofer.

If Meyers’ name sounds familiar, there is very good reason for that. The veteran play-by-play man has been a part of prominent national sports broadcasts for over two decades, including covering the NBA and NFL extensively. He also has significant experience in the Western Conference, having worked previously on television broadcasts for the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers.

This summer, Meyers was one of a handful of basketball play-by-play broadcasters chosen by NBA TV to call summer league games in Las Vegas. He has worked for national networks NBC and ESPN, as well as on radio for CBS/Westwood One.

The St. Louis native will make his debut broadcasting Hornets games on Oct. 31, when New Orleans opens the 2012-13 regular season by hosting San Antonio.

You’ve obviously made many trips to New Orleans as a broadcaster. What are your impressions of the city from your previous visits?

Meyers: Well, I’ve been a fan of the city for a long time. And actually, twice a year (when the Lakers visited New Orleans), I was a guest on the Hornets’ TV pregame show, and we always talked about how I had spent that day in New Orleans. When I came here on road trips, I was always walking around the city, having lunch at Mother’s (a well-known restaurant on Poydras Street), or going to the rib room at the Royal Orleans for a classic moss salad. The reason I was always on your pregame show was because of my love for New Orleans. So it’s easy for me to come here, because I have always enjoyed my visits. It’s funny the way things work out, because I like it so much now. To be able to come down here and be a resident of the city is exciting for me and my wife Carol. She’s looking forward to it as well.

How excited are you to join the Hornets’ broadcasting team and to call games for a club that has generated significant excitement heading into the 2012-13 season?

Meyers: I think everyone’s very excited, across the league, to see how the Hornets develop. It’s partly because of eight new faces on the roster and having the youngest starting lineup in the NBA. And it’s exciting to think about the future for Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers, coupled with the arrival of Ryan Anderson, who is coming off a career year and is also still very young. It’s not just people in New Orleans who are excited. There are a lot of people around the league who have a lot of respect for Monty Williams and also Dell Demps. They had the foresight in the deals they have made to have cap space available at the end of the season. So there’s a lot of room for the Hornets to grow because of the youth of the team and the potential to add critical parts and some veterans parts down the road.

How would you describe your style, philosophy and approach to calling games? For fans who have not heard your broadcasts, what should they expect this season?

Meyers: I think the game takes care of itself. The game is the story. The broadcasters are not the story. Screaming on the air and signature calls, those things are fun, but the substance of the broadcast itself boils down to the game in front of us. Some games are going to be classics, and others will be at the other extreme, unfortunately. Over an 82-game schedule, most of the time they’re going to be really good and close games. But if I had to describe my style, it would be that I like the games to speak for themselves. I also try to be as honest and objective as possible in calling the game. In my heart, I’ll be pulling for the Hornets to succeed. But my enthusiasm and my love for the game will come across more than anything else.

What is your favorite aspect of calling NBA games over the course of an 82-game season?

Meyers: I am amazed at how gifted these guys are. They are such talented artists. To think that there are guys who are 6-foot-7, 6-foot-8 or even 7-foot-plus, running the floor – such as someone like Anthony Davis – and can have such athleticism and be so graceful in such a confined space of an NBA court, is pretty incredible. The skill sets that they have, I don’t think we can ever minimize that, because you’re watching the best in the world at what they do. That’s what I love the most. I enjoy college basketball, but to watch the pros, it’s another level. It’s the same with college football. College football on Saturdays is fun and great, but then when you see Sundays and how good (NFL players) are, it’s a very similar situation.

On to questions from Hornets fans. From @patrickclay10: What made you want to come to New Orleans?

Meyers: First of all, I love the city. That’s a key consideration wherever you’re going to work. It helps to love the place where you’re headed. I have always loved New Orleans. From the first time I came here as an 18-year-old, I fell in love with the place. Everyone who lives here appreciates it. To those of us who come here to visit, who didn’t live here previously, it’s a unique city, a charming city. I don’t know if there is anything else like it in the United States. It is so unique and on its own for being a different and special place. That’s what I was really looking forward to. You can go to a lot of cities, but there is nothing in the country you can compare to New Orleans.

From @DanielVeuleman: What are your thoughts on how the franchise is moving forward?

Meyers: The biggest step was the Benson family buying the franchise. With the Bensons taking over and their commitment to the Saints and the city, it lets everyone know the Hornets aren’t going anywhere. They’re staying right here. Now there are no more question marks. There is total commitment to succeeding at a very high level. The commitment that they have already made to the Saints, it will be the same thing with the Hornets. Everyone down here knows it. It’s an exciting time because they’re starting over. Who wouldn’t want to be with a franchise where there are eight new guys, all young, but not only young but talented and with potential? With Anthony, Austin – and Eric (Gordon) with a new commitment to him – I think it’s going to be a great turnaround. Remember over the last 10 games last year, while everyone else (out of playoff contention) was faltering, the Hornets went 6-4. If you look at the defensive numbers of this team over the last 10 to 15 games, even though they were injured and missing key components, they worked their tails off. While other teams were just coasting home, the Hornets were working really hard. That commitment from Monty and the staff carried over to the players. It’s only going to get better.

From @Mosschop49: With Coach Williams’ great defensive coaching, do you think the Hornets will be a formidable team with scoring options now?

Meyers: Yes. The key is spacing in any NBA scenario when it comes to halfcourt offense. If Eric hits for a good (shooting) percentage, if Ryan hits for a good percentage, Anthony is going to have a stellar rookie season. Because the spacing on the floor is going to be perfect for him. There’s not going to be pressure on Anthony in halfcourt sets. Other teams will have to defend the arc and the three-point shooters. That’s critical, because there’s no question in my mind that Anthony is going to be a franchise player. His skill set and the way he can run the floor, he makes the other big men look like Clydesdales. He runs like a guard. Then you can go up-tempo and get some easy baskets. When you can get easy baskets with a guy like that running the floor, how entertaining is that going to be? The sky’s the limit.

From @oceanback: Will you be doing any other sports broadcasting during the year other than Hornets now? Welcome to New Orleans! And will you be moving full time to the NOLA area?

Meyers: Yes, I’m going to be living here full time and I’m excited about it. I did summer league games on NBA TV for Turner – I actually called the Hornets’ first game in July, coincidentally – and I will continue to do work for Turner. They were great to me all summer. I plan on being back for summer league with Turner again next year.