Swirsky Versus Devlin – Who’s Better? Part 2, Matt

Part 1, Chuck, was covered yesterday

To recap, it’s been one full season of Matt Devlin calling Raptors games, after years of the Chuck Swirsky experience. The two play-by-play broadcasters couldn’t be more different – Chuck the entertainer, versus Matt the straight shooter. Yesterday, I highlighted Chuck’s pros and cons, and I’ll do the same for Devlin here.

The Pro-Devlin Argument
Unlike Swirsky, Devlin relies less on catchphrases, nicknames and emotion. Instead, it’s his knowledge of the game and his professionalism that carry him. He blends into the game, and he doesn’t try to be more important than the action. While Chuck was an unabashed Raptors fan, Devlin has found a way to remain objective, and this was refreshing for many people (myself included). Toronto Sun’s Frank Zicarelli had this to say a couple weeks ago:

“If you catch Devlin’s work on TNT alongside P.J. Carlesimo, you might confuse Devlin with the Matt Devlin who finished his first season in Toronto.

For reasons only the people who operate the NBA club can explain, it appeared Devlin had to call games by having a schtick.

But when you listen to him call a game as an unbiased announcer, minus the gimmicky lines and shameless promotions, Devlin is one of the best.

One day, the Raptors should realize that people, or at least the majority who know basketball, don’t need to have some over-the-top announcer insult their intelligence.

Kudos to Devlin in proving his value as an NBA broadcaster and here’s hoping the folks associated with the Raptors are tuned in, even though most post-season games aren’t even made available in this market.”

I really couldn’t say it any better than that.

The Anti-Devlin Argument

For many people, Devlin is simply boring. He showed more emotion later in the season, but he still often struggled to make the big moments memorable. Not every play needs a catchphrase, and not every player needs a nickname, but those are areas where Devlin certainly came up short. In a bad 2008-09 season, Matt often failed to make the games interesting, and this was definitely a terrible year to start calling games. After years with Chuck, Devlin couldn’t connect with the fanbase at the same level, and he doesn’t seem poised to become a face of the franchise. New fans have an especially hard time with him, because he doesn’t make the game more interesting than the action.

Final Thoughts

For me, there has to be a balance. I loved Chuck’s catchphrases and emotion, and it was always obvious that he loved the team and city. With Devlin, the team simply needs to win. He isn’t the right announcer to call a season of dull games, because he simply isn’t a dynamic personality. But Devlin is a solid professional, who understands the game, and who won’t interfere with the action. I think a mix of Chuck and Matt would be perfect, but that’s obviously impossible. At times this past season, I missed Chuck. Other times, I really enjoyed having an announcer who was happy to let the game be the show, without stealing it. Time to debate – What do you think?

Zicarelli is here.


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