As the Miami Heat tries to make the most of this preseason, John Crotty understands how important these games are.
Not only because Crotty played 11 seasons in the NBA, but because he’s also entering his first season as the Heat’s television analyst and the preseason represents the first time he’s calling live games in his new position. Three preseason games down, three to go starting with Monday’s home matchup against the Orlando Magic.
“I think it’s been very valuable,” Crotty said. “I think like any team that you’re forming, you’re trying to get the chemistry and you need reps to do that. Being able to have multiple games with Eric [Reid], but also understanding the whole routine and the format of the way the games are, having a different voice in my ear from a producer standpoint.”
There’s an adjustment the viewers have to make, too, from former Heat television analyst Tony Fiorentino to Crotty. Fiorentino spent the past 15 seasons in that role next to the television play-by-play announcer Eric Reid, but he’s moved on to be a team ambassador and the director of the team’s summer basketball camp program.
“It’s never an easy situation and I have big shoes to fill,” said Crotty, who spent the 1996-97 season as the Heat’s backup point guard. “It’s such a great job being an analyst and ambassador of the team. He’s a friend and he’s somebody I like and admire. He was an assistant coach when I played here and I’ve known him. He’s a really good person. So I’m trying to do my own thing. I’m trying to put my own fingerprint on the job from a player perspective, and that’s something I hope to carry on.”
Crotty, 49, played for seven teams during his 11-year NBA career (1992-2003), averaging 4.0 points and 2.1 assists in 477 games. He’s been a member of the Heat’s broadcast crew since 2005, serving as a radio analyst and television studio analyst.
Even with all of that experience, calling games on television presents unique challenges. They’re challenges he’s looking forward to taking on, though.
“The visual nature of it means I can’t just state the fact of what happened,” said Crotty, with Ruth Riley Hunter taking over his previous roles. “I have to tell the how and the why. I have to describe sort of the text of why the play even happened. But that’s the fun part for me because you go a little deeper, and hopefully the fan is educated by that.
“A lot of times people get really excited by the end result, the dunk and great jumper. But I’ve always been fascinated by what got the guy to that point, even as a player. Whether it’s a crossover or a hesitation move, I like to try to describe that. And hopefully, we’ll waken the people to that type of analysis.”
Crotty’s transition also involves building chemistry with his on-screen partners, a process that began during two days of test-run broadcasts with Reid during the Las Vegas Summer League.
“Obviously, it helped me more than it helped him,” Crotty said. “But getting to know each other there was good. I’ve known him a long time. He’s been a friend of mine for a long time. But now we’re really invested in each other and I couldn’t be more pleased with the time he’s given me and his unselfishness in terms of helping me and educating me when he can and giving me space to do what I need to do. He’s been an absolute pleasure to work with so far.”
So far, so good for Crotty.
“I’m going to be myself,” he said. “I want to be somebody the fans can look at to give them the truth of what’s really going on and maybe a fresh different spin and way to look at things.”