Hornets In-Game MC is an NBA All-Star Regular
By: Jim Eichenhofer,

What traits must a high-caliber NBA courtside MC such as the Hornets' Rob Nice possess? Here are a few characteristics:

PERSONALITY: Much like anyone who appears on TV or in front of thousands of fans, MCs must find the right level of enthusiasm and personality in how they convey messages and act while handling the role. Too much enthusiasm can become annoying. Too little enthusiasm can become boring. As Nice rhetorically asks, "Is it over-the-top, just enough, or not enough?"

AD-LIB SKILLS: Nice has been the in-arena MC for the past three NBA slam dunk contests, an event that is wildly unpredictable, due to the creativity and spontaneity of the participants. "You have no idea what the player is about to do," Nice said of narrating the dunk contest. "(After the dunk), you have to quickly be able to describe it to the fans, especially since arenas other than Cowboys Stadium do not have huge video screens that allow everyone to see what's happening. When Dwight Howard brought out a cape during the dunk contest here in New Orleans, or Gerald Green did his cupcake dunk, you had to be able to paint the picture for what's happening on the court. It's important for you to be able to adjust."

PREPARATION: Nice devotes additional time memorizing as much of his prepared script as possible for all 41 Hornets home games. That allows him to convey a more genuine and less robotic feel when he appears on camera during games. Some MCs for other sports teams do not do similar memorization, which forces them to carry a clipboard or hold cue cards as they speak in front of a camera, making them seem a bit more rehearsed. "It pays huge dividends," Nice said of memorization, "because you get to show your personality more, as opposed to being focused on looking down at a piece of paper."

February 23, 2010

Believe it or not, Chris Paul wasn't the only member of the New Orleans Hornets organization to make a third straight appearance at the NBA All-Star Game earlier this month. Now in his sixth season as a Hornets in-game master of ceremonies, Rob Nice was chosen by the NBA to serve as the All-Star MC for the third consecutive year. Nice also served the same role at All-Star weekend in New Orleans in 2008, as well as in Phoenix in 2009.

All 30 NBA franchises have an in-game MC, but the visibility and frequency of MC appearances on game nights vary greatly from team to team. Nice's multiple selections to All-Star have established him as one of the best in the league. In general, the job description of NBA in-game MCs includes pumping up the crowd at strategic moments, as well as introducing and narrating various sponsor promotions that take place during timeouts. In Nice's case, he is extremely prominent during New Orleans home games, partly due to how much importance the team places on providing non-basketball entertainment for fans.

"It's a reflection on our game presentation performance," Nice said of being honored with three straight trips to All-Star festivities. "The NBA comes in and evaluates every team throughout the year. We focus on having a lot of contests (during timeouts) and making sure we have a lot of fan interaction. That's kind of an advantage for me, because I'm used to doing a lot of things on game night. All-Star is much busier than a regular season game, so I think the NBA looks for someone who already has a busy load."

If you're fortunate enough to have attended games at many of the NBA's arenas throughout North America, you've probably noticed that there is a wide range of philosophies on reliance on music and promotions during the dozen or so mandatory timeouts that take place every game. In general, some of the tradition-rich NBA franchises that have been in the league for multiple decades tend to place less emphasis on in-game entertainment, opting instead to let the basketball serve as the featured attraction. That's generally never been the case with the Hornets, who won an award in 2007 from the website for having the premier game presentation among all professional and major-college sports.

"Some teams put more of an emphasis on the game itself," Nice said. "They think that if you play great basketball, fans will come. But injuries happen and you can't always control what happens on the court. You have to have something to keep fans entertained.

"We've been able to play great basketball over these past few years (the Hornets are 135-85 since 2007-08 through Feb. 22), but my first year (in 2004-05), we were 18-64. We had to have that entertainment element. The Hornets have always had a great tradition of taking that extra step to let the fans know that they are important. We have a great owner who wants to focus on both the game itself and the entertainment for fans."

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