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Sports Animal says Jim Traber's attacks on Thunder broadcast crew are ignored by team

The Sports Animal's Jim Traber has ripped announcers for lack of negative comments in apparently following company line. As a former Arizona Diamondbacks TV analyst, Traber knows what it's like to be a broadcaster paid by the team.
by Mel Bracht Modified: February 7, 2013 at 4:25 pm •  Published: February 7, 2013

“I don't believe a word Brian Davis says. Brian Davis is told what to say.”

— Jim Traber on his Sports Animal Radio Network show Monday afternoon.

It's highly unusual for a sports talk show host on a major league team's flagship radio station to so blatantly rip the team's TV play-by-play announcer. But such was the case Monday when Traber dug into Davis, who had discussed the Thunder's loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers that morning on WWLS-FM 98.1/The Sports Animal.

Traber said he didn't buy Davis' explanation that the team was experimenting with Kevin Martin in a late-game situation instead of playing defensive-whiz Thabo Sefolosha to cover Cavs star Kyrie Irving, who shredded the Thunder for 35 points.

“That to me is just an excuse for a bad coaching move,” Traber said in a phone interview. “I've been doing radio for 20 years, and if I think Bob Stoops or Mike Gundy or Eddie Sutton or Scott Brooks, whoever it is, is doing something that I don't like, I'm going to say it.”

Traber has long complained that Davis and analyst sidekick Grant Long offer few, if any, negative comments about the Thunder's play during game telecasts. He even has taken a few shots at radio voice Matt Pinto.

“Everybody knows how I feel about Brian Davis and Grant Long,” Traber said. “All you have to do is listen to their broadcasts. There is never anything negative that happens to the team.”

As a former Arizona Diamondbacks TV analyst, Traber knows what it's like to be a broadcaster paid by the team. But he said, unlike Davis and Long, he mostly had free rein to voice his opinions. “There might have been a couple of times where I might have said something on the air that they weren't happy with and I was told about it,” he said.

Traber said he believes Thunder broadcasters are forced to stick with a positive company line, similar to that of the San Antonio Spurs, even in face of major controversy such as Russell Westbrook's tantrum last week when he stormed off the bench after being yanked from the game. He's also disappointed by the lack of Thunder players appearing on his show.

“We want to be a big market around here, but we don't want to do what it takes to be a big market,” Traber said. “When Russell Westbrook goes off like he did a couple of days ago, if that was in Boston, a week later he would be on the radio and the guys in Boston would say, ‘Hey, Russell, what the heck happened out there?' That's what a big-league market is.”

To the Thunder's credit, the team's apparent positive broadcasting philosophy doesn't apply to sports talk radio, even when negative comments — which some might consider personal attacks — come from the team's flagship station.

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by Mel Bracht
Copy Editor, Sports Media
Mel Bracht is a copy editor on the presentation desk and also covers sports media. A 1978 graduate of Indiana University, Bracht has been a print journalist for 34 years. He started his career as sports editor of the Rensselaer (Ind.) Republican...
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