Destination Unknown: The Man Responsible For Me Being Here
This is Ted Davis. He’s the play-by-play voice of the Milwaukee Bucks, who are in town tonight for a 7:00 tip, and before that he was the play-by-play voice of the Dallas Mavericks. But he’s more than that to me, because, as much as anything, he’s the reason I’m with the Pacers.
In the summer of 1988, I left WFAN Radio to take a position with KMOX Radio in St. Louis. Ordinarily, moving from New York to St. Louis would be a step backwards, but I had been obsessed with KMOX from the time I was a kid. This is hard to imagine today, but there was a time when AM radio ruled, and KMOX was The King of the Jungle. It was (and is) a 50,000 watt blowtorch, and at night you could hear it almost anywhere, including Minneapolis, where I grew up. In addition, the list of industry giants that had worked there included Bob Costas, Harry Caray, Jack Buck, and Dan Dierdorff – just to name a few – and being offered a job there was considered a golden ticket.
Well, it didn’t work out for me. I was miscast from the start. KMOX was conservative Middle America, and while I, too, was Middle America, my style was anything but conservative and didn’t mesh with theirs. They wanted straight-laced, old school sports broadcasters, and I was flip, irreverent, and as inclined to drone on about some annoying person I ran across at the checkout line at the supermarket as I was to expound on the Cardinals current five-game winning streak.
So I decided that my dream of working at KMOX was, in fact, a nightmare and decided to move on. But I had to find a place to land, so I started calling around. One of my cronies mentioned that he had heard that the Dallas Mavericks were looking for a play-by-play voice, so I checked into it and was told that their backup guy, which turned out to be Ted, had left in July to take the Indiana job. However, the lead play-by-play guy in Dallas bolted shortly after that, and Ted had asked out of his Indiana contract and returned to Texas. So the Indiana job was open.
Now this was about two weeks before training camp started and the Pacers were in panic mode. I sent them my stuff, they liked it, and asked me to come to Indianapolis to talk about the job. I interviewed with Larry Mago, now the head honcho at Fox Sports Indiana, and Greg Jamison, who would go on to become the president of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks, and they both liked me.
But I had to get final clearance from Donnie Walsh before we could begin negotiating a contract, and he was preoccupied trying to get Rik Smits signed to a rookie deal and didn’t really have time to invest down at my level of the food chain. So after a few pleasantries, he asked me why he should hire me, and I, being young, full of myself, and perhaps a few dollars short of totally sane, offered the following bon mot:
"Because you’d be an idiot not to."
Now, if you’re a young, aspiring professional, I would advise you to go in another direction if ever asked that question during a job interview. But there were at least two things working in my favor back then. For one thing, I’m pretty sure it was the lowest paying job in the NBA at the time. I do know for certain that I took a pay cut to come here (I was never the best negotiator), but that didn’t concern me because I saw it as an exceptional opportunity. And since the first pre-season game was less than a week away, the Pacers were desperate and probably would have hired the next guy through the door. Which, in this case, was me.
Anyway, that was 27 seasons ago. Ted Davis stayed in Dallas for nine seasons, then left for Milwaukee, where he’s been the Bucks play-by-play guy since 1997, so it worked out for him. It’s also obviously worked out well for me, and I have Ted to thank.
Maybe that's why he's been trying to get an agent’s commission on every contract I’ve signed since.
Disclaimer: All opinions expressed by Mark Boyle are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.