Meet the Pelicans broadcasters: David Wesley
All five members of the New Orleans Pelicans broadcast teams appeared on Tuesday’s edition of the Black and Blue Report. We are re-running the interviews this week. Today: David Wesley, analyst for Fox Sports New Orleans. Coming Friday: Jennifer Hale.
Sean Kelley: When you come off of a season like last year where there is no playoff time to watch the team, then you have a lot of excitement with regard to addition of new pieces and the maturation of your key piece Anthony Davis, it makes that stretch from – for me it’s like mid-August to right before training camp – almost unbearable.
David Wesley: Yeah, and as soon as the season is over, obviously you’re tired, you’ve had a long season, you didn’t make the playoffs. You’re kind of bummed, but you’re happy about the summer. Then you get to that point where it’s just, “Let’s go.” You’ve got a new name, you’ve got a new this, new players, and the team’s looking good. You expect growth and all those type of things. You just can’t wait to get on the air and start talking about it.
SK: A lot of people who now tune into this podcast, but also watch the Pelicans on TV, know David Wesley as the charming, smiling – I won’t say good-looking, I’ll leave that to Shannon, his wife – television analyst for the Pelicans. Then there’s another segment that know you as a former NBA player, or at least as an active NBA player. There are still many out there in this community that remember you not only as a Hornet, but from your playing days in other cities. How many years in all did you play in the NBA?
SK: You were one of those undrafted guys, so you bring a unique perspective to the game at that level.
DW: Yeah I remember breaking into the league my first year in New Jersey in 1993 where I didn’t really feel like I was a part of that team. I felt like they kind of did me a favor almost. Rumeal Robinson, if you remember that name, was on that team and Tate George, they released him so that I could be on that team. Their starting guard was Kenny Anderson, who led all guards in minutes played that year so I relatively was just kind of a cheerleader and learned and watched and just worked hard. As undrafted guys, and I see guys that come in today like Brian Roberts, those are the guys I’m rooting for, Lance Thomas. Those are the guys I’m rooting for because I know how hard they have to work and how they have to change people’s minds. They can play this game. I’m always looking over somebody’s shoulders. I’m beating you down, I’m tapping your shoulder until I got in front. For my career, that’s what kept me going because I knew there was a “me” looking over my shoulder, coming to get my position.
SK: Are you in your 40s at this point?
DW: 42. 43 in about two weeks.
SK: Does it still strike you now that you’re that kid from a small town in Texas, and this is what it has become? Does that ever hit you upside the head?
DW: It still does because I look at those players and a lot of times I’m looking at how big and how fast and how quick they are, and I think, “Was I really just out there a few years ago?” And here I am 43 from Longview, Texas. I’ve now had a basketball career and now am starting this broadcasting career. I’m a lucky guy to have been a part of the game and now been able to talk about it and be a part of another team, and that was great.
SK: What was it about coming back to New Orleans that made you say “I’m in!”?
DW: I enjoyed my time her in New Orleans. The fans are great here. The people receive you well here. Obviously the food and the culture and everything else is wonderful, but it took a little bit. I’m talking to my wife, I’ve been offered this job, and it was almost last minute. I’m thinking yeah, that this could be a new chapter and this could be fun. We were in Maine, where my wife was from. We were in the mountains with no phone signal. You can’t get emails; you have to go to a certain place in the mountains, the way you had to hold your phone just to get a signal. Communicating with the Hornets, at the time, about this job was kind of difficult. We knew that when we came back from Maine, we had to find some schools, a house, and everything in a short amount of time. I just like New Orleans. I like being here. The day we drove from Houston to here was the day of the hurricane. We actually unloaded the truck into the house the day before the hurricane.
SK: What had to happen for you to take the knowledge you acquired from being a player/coach and be able to share that with your viewers?
DW: Sometimes when you coach, making your point and getting people to understand…and I coached three years in the D-league with the Texas Legends. It’s important to relay to somebody on a basketball court how to do something in a way that you’re not using terminology that shoots over their head. You’ve got to kind of dumb it down and use the right words to get that across. I think that helped me a little bit in the broadcasting. There’s so much I don’t know, but being around guys like yourself, Joel Meyers, the producers, Lew Shuman filling me full of information and really all that you’ve told me going into my first broadcast, none of that helps. It helps as you go, but going into that first game everything is out the window and you are just a ball of nerves and don’t want to say the wrong thing. In the process of learning, it took the whole year and I’m still learning, it took a year to get going to what it is you have to say and how quick you have to be sometimes, how concise. One of the most amazing things I notice about Joel Meyers is his internal clock. When we’re going to break and we’re doing certain things where somebody will tell him that he has 25 seconds to do this. He can feel that down to the seconds. That’s the kind of stuff I want to learn how to do because it’s fun and it’s a chapter of my life.
SK: A lot of former players think they can just walk off of the floor, plop down in a chair, and start broadcasting. I don’t want to say they wing it, but they do. I saw you as a player and the incredible work ethic that you possessed seems to have carried over into your work ethic in broadcasting.
DW: I think that anything you do, you want to do your best. When you explain things as a television analyst is to explain the why and the how and that kind of thing. As a player you think, “Well I don’t need to study to do that.” You do. You have to do more. You have to figure out back-stories and the things you talk about and the why, it helps to know that guy spent two hours after practice. It’s good to know where that guy came from so that you can talk about it. My first year in the league, I come down and I shoot a jump shot. The analyst said, “They don’t want him taking that shot. He’s not a shooter.” That’s what I did in college, that’s what I did for my career is shoot the basketball, and here this guy is. And of course, an undrafted rookie…he didn’t do his homework. He knew very little about me, and that’s the kind of thing that I don’t want to say about another player or insinuate about a player if I don’t do my homework. That pushes me to grow. My whole thing to this point I owe to the guys around me. This is a team thing and talking to guys and learning from what you’ve done over the years and Joel and everybody around. It has helped me grow so far.
SK: How do you balance being a former player and having their backs while also having to be critical sometimes?
DW: I have. I feel like I have. I know some people may say that I’m a little harder on some players, but there is an honesty to what we do. You can be honest without killing a guy. That’s basically what I think about when I’m talking: honest. The public sees the play just like I do. There’s students of the game who know the game like I do. When I’m talking about a play – and players and coaches are watching this – be honest about it. If it’s a bad play, I could say it’s a bad play or that that guy is absolutely terrible, which is too much. As a player I wouldn’t want anyone telling me that I was absolutely terrible, but I would be confused if I’m watching the game and a guy is dancing around it. It was a bad play. That’s how I try to keep it: honest, but not too critical.
SK: Outside of the broadcast booth and the game, what does David Wesley like to do?
DW: I don’t do anything that interferes with my golf game. I’m not saying I’m a lightning golfer, but I try to stay out of the weight room. I try not to work out too much because it hurts my back and it hurts my knees, which affects my golf game. It hurts my shoulder. It hurts, it really hurts. I’ve never been the one that loves to work out. I venture in there from time to time now, but it’s not anything that I do schedule. If I could golf just about every other day, I’d be a happy man.
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