Mario Nanni debuted Monday night as the Thunder public-address announcer. Nanni is a playoff replacement for Jim Miller, who was removed from duties after being arrested last week on complaints of lewd/indecent acts with a child. Nanni spent seven years (1996-03) as the Houston Rockets' P.A. announcer.
Question: What do you remember about Scott Brooks, who played for the Rockets during your time with the team?
Nanni: “Back in those days, they called him Scotty. Hardest working player. They called him the energizer battery. He really brought life to the game. Never backed down, no matter who he was playing. I think that's why Rudy (Tomjanovich, coach) liked him.”
What do you enjoy about the NBA?
“This is the greatest spectator sport in the world. There's nothing like the energy when the crowd's going. Gives you chills on your skin. It's that exciting. Every play is momentum. Non-stop action. You get engrossed in the game. Best experience there is.”
How does a P.A. announcer keep himself in check when the emotions get going?
“You try to stay within the boundaries, because the show is the players. Ideally, the announcer is just informing the crowd of things. It's all about the players.”
Nine years since you've done an NBA game. Is it easy to get back in the saddle?
“Like riding a bike. Absolutely. There isn't a game that I don't announce, even if I'm not there. Drives my friends crazy.”
Have you followed the Thunder?
“Absolutely. I was telling my friends when the Rockets were eliminated, I guess I have to root for the Thunder now. I guess it's because No. 1, I have no animosity towards 'em. There's no rivalry. Can't root for Utah. John Stockton killed us so many times. San Antonio was a big rival. Dallas was a big rivalry. The East doesn't count. And I really like the team. And I really like what Scott Brooks has done with the team. You don't see lack of effort on the team. And that's coaching. There's always somebody, it seems, on some team, but you don't see that with the Thunder at all. You see constant play and constant energy.”
Any special catchphrases?
“No special catchphrases. Keep it simple. Try to do the job as the job is. The NBA show, that's the show. They're not here to hear my catchphrases. They're here to see the best basketball players in the world.”
What are your early impressions of Oklahoma City?
“It's a beautiful town. Absolutely beautiful. Everybody's pleasant. Strangers, ‘hi, how ya doing?' Seems to be really down to Earth, down-to-Earth people. Very clean city. Very impressed with it.”