Analyst Greg Anthony, who will call the Bulls-Thunder game at 7 p.m. Thursday on TNT with Marv Albert and reporter Craig Sager, has a connection with the Thunder franchise. Anthony was a reserve point guard in the 1997-98 season for the Seattle SuperSonics, which moved to Oklahoma City in 2008. That team, lead by guard Gary Payton and center Vin Baker and coached by George Karl, won 61 games but lost in the Western Conference semifinals.
Anthony, 46, a former UNLV star who played 12 seasons in the NBA, also works in the NBA TV studio and broadcasts college games for CBS. This season he has replaced Clark Kellogg as the analyst on CBS' No. 1 college broadcast team.
As a former SuperSonic, were you disappointed to see Seattle lose its NBA franchise?
Seattle is one of my favorite cities. And I was saddened to see the Sonics leave, but I will say this. I never envisioned that they would end up in Oklahoma City and have the kind of impact — and I'm not just talking about the wins on the floor but in terms of what that organization has been able to do in connecting with that fan base. That's been one of the most impressive experiences I've seen in professional sports. Very rare that you can bring the passion of a college atmosphere to the professional game in the regular season. You can do it in the postseason. Those fans are unreal. I've done several games there, and it's been a real treat.
What's your impression of the Thunder this season?
I like them a lot. I think they are the best team in the conference and that's saying a lot because Portland in essence has been the best team in the league in all due respect to Indiana, who has been phenomenal as well. But to be 21-4, I don't think the Portland TrailBlazers envisioned being this good. Once you get to the postseason, the game changes a little bit. You got seven opportunities to dissect an opponent, to take things away. When I start looking at it from that perspective, I think OKC is going to end up being the team to beat. I felt strongly about them a year ago and they had the unfortunate injury to Russell (Westbrook). So obviously you have to avoid that. They are also going to have rely on guys in the postseason who have never been relied on before.
Has anything surprised you about the team?
Not really. I always thought that Jeremy Lamb and Reggie Jackson were going to be good players. I love the way they were brought about, in Jeremy's case, in particular, that was more the prototypical way players were developed. You came in, you took a year or two to learn the system and figure out how you could have an impact in the system. Reggie obviously got pushed a little further along because of the injury (to Westbrook). They both have been a joy to watch. They still make mistakes that young players will make, but they have had just a terrific impact. I didn't think rookie Steven Adams was necessarily ready at this level, but I was wrong. He has had more impact then I thought he would. He's big and physical. You need to have versatility on your roster, you need to be able to play a variety of ways and he gives them that option.
Do you prefer calling games or working in the studio?
I love it all. I love the opportunity to be associated with the game, to have it be the essence of what I do for a living. How cool is that? Both games are obviously different in terms of college and pro and there is a different dynamic in doing studio as opposed to calling the game. It's all a joy and I'm really fortunate in that I get to work with some awesome people on both sides. It's been great. This wasn't even a dream for me but has turned into one because I never envisioned myself doing this for a living after playing.