Hubie Brown’s secrets to calling ESPN games at 90

Andrew Marchand is off this week, so New York Post media reporter Ryan Glasspiegel steps in. Andrew will return to his regular spot in the Sports+ lineup next Monday.

Hubie Brown turned 90 last month. But as he enters his 50th season of NBA-related work, whether as a coach or as a broadcaster, he is still sharp and sharp enough to host games at the highest level.

Brown’s first appearance this season? Spurs-Knicks, for the Madison Square Garden debut of rookie sensation Victor Wembanyama along with top play-by-player Mike Breen on ESPN on Wednesday, November 8th.

Dave Roberts, head of NBA events and studio production at ESPN, told The Post: “Incredible 50 seasons in the NBA and still going strong. Hubie’s influence on the NBA, the game of basketball and its fans cannot be understated. We look forward to celebrating Hubie’s unparalleled legacy in this milestone season.”

Sports Clicker caught up with Brown last week and asked him to share some of his secrets to a long and fruitful life and career.


Hubie Brown’s first assignment this season takes him back to New York, where he coached the Knicks to two playoff appearances between 1982 and 1987.
NBAE via Getty Images

“Never underestimate the IQ of the audience,” Brown said, speaking in a universal sense and not just in basketball broadcasting.

“Whether I’m speaking as a trainer at a practice session, to trainers at a conference, or to large corporations, which I did for many years, you never underestimate the IQ of the audience. And I never go to an event without the preparation being there.”

Brown vividly recalled something his father had told him when he was in seventh grade – in the mid-1940s.

“No matter how good you get in life, always remember that you are only half a step from the street,” Brown’s father told him.

“That’s imprinted on my brain,” Brown said.

“Always be prepared. Never cheat the audience. When I was a high school coach, you wanted to give them 55 minutes in the classroom, and then you wanted to develop their talents and get them to a high level of athletics.”

Brown’s coaching career has spanned 33 years, 15 of them in the NBA, including some in Memphis, where he led the franchise to its first-ever 50-win season.
AFP via Getty Images

He said he carried that attitude with him as he moved up to coaching school, then became an assistant coach and eventually became a head coach.

“When you become a head coach and you bring people to your team, they have to be teachers,” he said.

He noted that ten assistant coaches on his staff with the Kentucky Colonels (who won the 1975 ABA championship), the Atlanta Hawks, the New York Knicks and the Memphis Grizzlies eventually became NBA head coaches.

“You don’t do this alone,” Brown said.

“You do this to other people who don’t get the attention they deserve for their contributions when you reach a climax. In Kentucky, [or when] We turned the youngest team in the NBA around in Atlanta. We go to the Knicks and have eight of twelve new players and are at the top. We took over the Grizzlies, who never won more than 22 games in Vancouver or Memphis, and then the second year we won 50 games.

“This is only possible if you have teachers with you and they all join the team. It’s just like your players. Everyone needs to embrace the fact of accountability every day. This is preparation and participation. We won’t accept anything less than that.”

Brown credits Larry Costello, his former college teammate at Niagara, who brought him to the Bucks in 1972 as an assistant coach on a team with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson and Bob Dandridge that reached the NBA Finals in 1974, for helping him an award has given strict blueprint.

It was a stint as an assistant with the Bucks in the early 1970s that Brown (standing) cites as a model for a successful head coach.
NBAE via Getty Images

“I thought I knew a lot about basketball, being a high school coach or being an assistant at William & Mary and Duke, and then you go into this other world that’s incredible,” Brown said.


“For so many years you have carried energy within you as you walk around [life and various career stages]said Brown. “But as you get older, you have to be careful.”

Brown said he played tennis three to four times a week and maintained a disciplined swimming regimen.

“As I passed the 50 mark, focusing on keeping the body fit was important,” Brown said.

“The tennis factor came into play for me after 50, and then I always tried to join a club to swim. And since the 2000s we have had a pool in our house. This discipline needs to be integrated into the television business as you get older.

“I know you say, ‘Well, you’re 90.’ Well, you don’t think you’re 90, because you have a schedule for your company – ESPN/ABC – where they play NBA games at the highest level, and you don’t just perform in front of spectators in the United States But you also know that the games are available in 215 countries. So how could you not prepare to the maximum by knowing the two teams you will be playing?”

He compared working in television to working on a different kind of team.

Since joining the network in December 2004, Brown has worked as an analyst alongside Mike Breen and many other play-by-play callers at ESPN.
NBAE via Getty Images

“You and the play-by-play announcer are the face. You’re at the front,” he said.

“But you know, we are only as good as our producer and director who organize everything you see. We’re just talking about it. That’s something that’s often missed by people, and when I’ve won these different TV awards, I always try to make sure that I give credit to the announcer who has to give you entry, as well as the producer and the director who have images that are around the world, keeping what we talk about at the highest level.”

Brown also emphasized getting enough sleep.

“As I got older, say 75 or so, I stopped staying up to watch the West Coast games that ended at 1 a.m. I stopped doing that. I try to go to bed at 11pm and sleep for 7 to 8 hours,” he said.

“That has helped me a lot over the last 15 years. I’d stay awake until 1 a.m. – then you’d be cheating yourself of your rest.”

Family involvement

Brown explained that he never thought he would advance from high school to college and become a professional basketball coach, but rather that it happened organically.

Brown said his basketball career would not have been possible without his wife, Claire, who moved eight times with her husband and raised their four children.
Photo courtesy of ESPN

“I never looked for the next step; “I was very satisfied,” he said, referring to all the stops along the way.

Including the ABA years, he has been involved in professional basketball for 52 years.

“Looking back, you can only do this if your wife and family are involved,” he said.

“When I married Claire Manning, I was a high school coach in Cranford, New Jersey. We moved eight times. We had four children. She obtained all four university degrees from outstanding universities.

“New schools. New districts. New friendships. This all happens because she says, ‘Let’s try it.’ Let’s go.’ This only works if the head of the family joins in.”

Quick clicks

Judging by the three million people who tuned in to watch Victor Wembanyama’s NBA debut, the No. 1 draft pick should be a draw wherever the Spurs play this season.
Getty Images

Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions and LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s SpringHill Company are in talks to create a basketball series along the lines of the Netflix docuseries “Quarterback.” reports the Wall Street JournalWWE announced that next August it will host “Bash in Berlin,” its first premium live event in Germany… Women’s college volleyball is on the rise – a record: 612,000 people watched Wisconsin vs. Nebraska on Big Ten Network last week , and a Fox executive believes this record is “sure to be eclipsed” of Wisconsin vs. Minnesota, which aired on Fox on Sundays after NFL games (including Packers vs. Vikings).

…Former ESPN host and gaming analyst Doug Kezirian is joining up-and-coming Only Players, with plans to soon complete linear TV distribution for a daily 30-minute show…Dude Perfect returns for the Black Friday game between the Jets and Dolphins return to Amazon…Victor Wembanyama’s NBA debut attracted nearly 3 million viewers on ESPN; The network’s Wednesday night doubleheader saw an 80 percent increase over last year’s comparable window.

Chris Estrada

Chris Estrada is a WSTNewsPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Chris Estrada joined WSTNewsPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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