MEMPHIS, Tenn. — While the NBA is on hiatus, Grizzlies fans are missing out on more than just the game.
Pete Pranica is now in his 16th season as the television voice of the Memphis Grizzlies.
“Good evening everybody and welcome to the excitement of the NBA,” Pranica says at the beginning of the broadcasts.
“That is taken from George Blaha,” Grizzlies play-by-play man Pete Pranica said. “He’s been the voice of the Pistons since the late 70s, and George is the reason I literally have a job in the NBA.”
He’s since added his own creative flare.
“Hammer, nail, coffin, this baby is over,” Pranica says iconically when it’s clear the Grizzlies have won a game.
“I don’t have a good origin story for it, I really don’t,” Pranica said. “It was just one of those things that came up organically. There are times when the Grizzlies have a 7-point lead, but there are still 45 seconds left, Reggie Miller, Madison Square Garden, does that mean anything to anybody. And Brevin will elbow me, and he has black sharpie, and he’ll write on a box score, HNC! He’s holding it in front of me, and it’s like wait a second. Let me do this when I think it’s the right time to do it.
These aren’t just strange times for the players, but the play-by-play announcer, too.
“We flew out to Portland to start a really important road trip, and then all of the sudden there are no games,” Pranica said. “You miss the people every bit as much as you miss the games. For Scott and Tommy and BW and Beadie and Brevin and Fisch, you miss those guys because they are our family for six months out of the year.”
Before the NBA season was halted due tho the coronavirus pandemic, the Grizzlies were busy stunning the league, holding a 3.5 game lead for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference and led by Rookie of the Year favorite Ja Morant.
“I think the dunk over Aron Baynes in Phoenix is iconic,” Pranica said. “I was talking to Brevin about it a couple of days ago, and he said I forgot I was a broadcaster, and I was just a fan.”
The Grizzlies season to this point has been equal parts surprising and fun, something that hopefully stays the same, if and when basketball returns.
“I think what Taylor Jenkins has started with this team in terms of culture, is going to last past the hiatus, I think it is going to be enduring, and while it’s disappointing that we haven’t been able to continue it, I think whenever we start playing again that culture is still going to be in place and is going to be effective,” Pranica said.
“Dillon walks into a 3, bango.”
But with seemingly all sports on pause for now, Pranica is looking at this time as a positive and a chance to recharge.
“Every once in a while you need a chance to decompress,” Pranica said. “You read some good books, I’m studying for my instrument rating as a pilot. So whenever we pick up again, you jump right back in.”