Getting to Know: Murat Murathanoglu

Murat Murathanoglu is a connector.

When NBA games, Spanish League or Euroleague games are broadcast in Turkey, Murathanoglu is the person introducing players, teams and coaches to the viewing audience. He’s not just the play-by-play guy for NTV, Turkey’s nationwide television network, he’s the voice of basketball in his native country.

Thunder Executive Vice President/General Manager Sam Presti can attest to that; he and Murathanoglu have a friendship dating back to Presti’s days as a scout for the San Antonio Spurs.

The two met through a mutual friend in 2004, and Presti credits Murathanoglu for helping him learn the Turkish basketball scene. “I was impressed with his attitude, his search for details and now Sam is a very good friend,” Murathanoglu wrote in an email. “My wife loves him and my kids love watching him talk about basketball.”

Born in Istanbul, Murathanoglu lived for 18 years in a Chicago suburb while he went for his degree in civil engineering at the University of Illinois-Champaign. Murathanoglu began his broadcasting career in the early 80s, when the Turkish government channel purchased the rights to a NCAA Final Four. He got a crash course in Turkish basketball terms in the weeks leading up to the Final Four and has been broadcasting games ever since. Murathanoglu, 42, grew up listening to legendary sportscasters like Curt Gowdy, Harry Caray, Pat Summerall, Jim McKay, Al McGuire, John Madden and Dick Enberg.

“Many, many people have told me over the years, ‘Murat, you were a guest last night at our house and we watched the game together,’” Murathanoglu said. “My partner for many years, Ismet Badem, and I really were good at making the audience feel like they were next to us watching the game live and perhaps having a discussion with us as the game was being played. It’s been over 25 years now.”

Fresh off calling games at the World Championship in Istanbul, Murathanoglu will return to broadcasting games for the Spanish League, Euroleague and expects to return to announcing NBA games soon. He also has a two-hour sports radio show that runs twice a week.

Married with two children, Murathanoglu is also active in the community. A resident of Bahcesehir for the last 16 years, he started a youth basketball club called “Baskent,” similar to a community outreach program. Over the years, Murathanoglu has had teams reach the finals of the Turkish Junior League and players who have been chosen to the Turkish National Team.

“It started out as a club where the neighborhood kids came together and played basketball,” he said. “It was a social event, but in time it has become a very serious thing.”

Contact Chris Silva