December 28, 2011
Faithful television-watching basketball fans have long known that TNT play-by-play announcer Kevin Harlan is kind of a crazy person. To be fair, he is arguably our favorite kind of crazy person — the kind who legitimately seems very happy to be calling games, who describes the action on the floor well and accurately without being dry, and who knows how to meet big moments with an unbridled excitement that leads to calls like "LeBron James, with NO REGARD FOR HUMAN LIFE," "Chris Paul with a three ... good! Right between the eyesssssss," "Arron Afflalo ... is AN ASSASSIN," and countless other classics over the years. Still, though: Kind of a crazy person.
On one hand, that history of verbal violence might have left you a bit underwhelmed by Harlan's call of this Metta World Peace drive and dunk from the Los Angeles Lakers' breezy 96-71 win over the Utah Jazz at Staples Center on Tuesday night. After all, he just says The Artist Formerly Known As Ron Artest's new name; while he certainly puts some English on the ball — I transcribed the call thusly: "Metta ... World ... PEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAACCCCCCCCCCCCCEEEEEEE!" — he doesn't use any language that would suggest a murder has taken place or anything. Kind of a downer, right?
On the other, though, by screaming and elongating "Peace" to punctuate the play, Harlan actually performed a pretty neat trick. That word, said that way, in that context, cannot evoke anything like calm, tranquility, quietude and stillness; that word, said that way, in that context, becomes a battle cry, packed with angst and conflict ... dare I say, a declaration of war.
Know how I know Kevin Harlan spend the lockout keeping his game tight? Three games into the season, he just fundamentally changed language.
Oh, also, he impersonated The Penguin. You know, the Batman villain? Yep, for real:
It bears mentioning that Harlan's comparison was actually pretty right on. After Jazz point guard Devin Harris knocked over a fan's soda and popcorn diving into the stands to save a loose ball, the combination of the grimace on the fan's face and the straw sticking out of her mouth did make her look like the version of the Penguin made famous by Burgess Meredith in the campy "Batman" TV show from the late 1960s. Launching into the impression, though? That's the stuff of genius.
Like I said: Kind of a crazy person, but most certainly our kind of crazy person. Welcome back to our lives, Kevin Harlan. We've missed you.
International readers ("Int'l read'rs"): If the clips above aren't rocking for you, please feel free to peruse them elsewhere, thanks to @Jose3030, another genius we're happy to have back in our lives. Hat-tip to Scott Carefoot at The Basketball Jones.