Over half a century ago, a high school basketball player had a graceful mind that needed inspiration. A fellow guard was outdone. So approach the coach to relieve stress.
“Son, he wears his pants the same way you do,” the coach advised. Young Walt Fraser did not skip a moment. “Are you sure, coach?” Frasier replied. “I think this guy is jumping at them with both feet.”
Frazier’s love of language, and his passion for eloquent plays over words, was there long before he became a broadcaster.
On Friday, Frazier, 77, will receive the Kurt Goody Electronic Media Award at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. He is the first person already in the Hall of Fame as a player to receive the award individually.
For all the splendor of Frasier’s uncommon wit – rhymes and ten dollar words that beat nicksBroadcasting for more than three decades – people close to him attribute his success in the cabin not only to his intellectual skill or curiosity, but also to his aptitude.
His enthusiasm for the language grew once he joined the Radio Knicks in the late ’80s, where he vaulted with Greg Gamble for clips on pre-match, halftime and post-match shows. He studied thesaurus as if there were some life-altering tests coming on synonyms. He would read the arts and entertainment section of the New York Times and write words or phrases that he enjoyed.
Today, he has a stack of notebooks in his house written with his favorite words and bold rhymes. He says he only used 30 or 40 percent of what’s in it on air. He will sometimes scan old notebooks in hopes of rediscovering a long lost gem.
When he first started broadcasting, his girlfriend at the time would send him tapes of his last comments that he was going to listen to on the plane, as if he was still an athlete studying the movie the previous night’s game. She was a former English major, so she would tour the dictionary or help him pronounce the ambiguities privately.
“I became very obsessed,” said Frasier. the athlete newly. ‘She would see me come and run to the other room and shut the door. ‘Leave me alone! I offered you!’ And then you walk around town, you see the cooking and instantly you know what that means.”
And now, there’s a whole fan base, thanks to any time Nick shows off his culinary skills, chopping and chopping to the hoop.
When Frazier first started on the radio, his voice was very weird, so he would go to loud bars and talk to strangers to rehearse the show.
He watches games in his house without sound and calls them as if they are live, rehearsing what he’s going to say before shooting them into a microphone.
“Whatever you heard me say on air, I said it hundreds of times in my living room myself,” Frasier said. “When people say they thought I had things written, because of the spontaneity it comes out of my mouth, I go, ‘I’m not designing the game.'”
The catchy phrases began with his mother, who was teaching him life lessons with sayings he still quotes today.
She was telling him, “It’s good to be important, but it’s more important to be kind.” After he became famous and went home to see her, the words of salutation for her would be: “Don’t win the world and lose your soul.”
After more than 30 years on television and radio, his love of language defined his career. Frasier isn’t just a basketball analyst, capable of smashing a pick-and-roll or cashing in the Knicks when necessary, a world into which many team broadcasters wouldn’t venture. He is a poet.
Every now and then, when he drops a term like lilliputian, the word is definitely the only one NBA A announcer used by longtime producers, Howie Singer and Spencer Julien, started cheering from the production truck. The singer or Julian will turn on the microphone to encourage, “Yes, Clyde!”
Frasier will laugh at the response.
“If you get a novice and a precocious novice in the same game, you win,” Singer said.
Frazier always plays the hits. The biggest ones, of course, are the rhymes: sawing and roasting, stirring and hunting, enclosing and amazing. But true fanatics feed on zinger like a precocious starter, descriptor of only a handful of starters who fit in when Fraser is particularly impressed. Probably the most famous Clyde-ism in Madison Square Garden – a favorite of Singer and Julien, as well as theater host Mike Breen’s.
“The first time I heard that, I couldn’t keep myself cool on the air,” Brian said.
It’s a double whammy. Early drop in the NBA broadcast? Well, that may have been done before. But the starter, which Frasier uses almost exclusively to describe the starter, is unique to one person. Pairing them together, if anyone else, would seem overly enthusiastic.
Frazier explains the difference between a precocious beginner and your “regular beginner,” as he puts it, is as massive as the rate itself.
“Well, the novice is young and stupid. He learns. He is a beginner. He does not know the ropes,” said Frazier. “An early novice is a little more advanced than that. As we say, it doesn’t go well. He’s not going to play at the back door – he shows them the ball, lifts them in the air, makes a mistake. So, the early novice is only way ahead of your usual novice, who is in awe of Madison Square Garden.”
This is Fraser. This is how he speaks when he has no microphone near him.
“Kerry is back,” Brian said.
Frasier felt the need to free him.
Frazier replied, “Yes.” Kerry was a good liberator.
Why did you respond this way?
“Liberalization is the best,” Frazier said.
He has an inside joke with his friends when he starts to rhyme during a casual conversation: “They go, Clyde, save it for the radio,” he said.
“If you were having a conversation between you and me, I don’t think we were talking about your immunity, but he does,” Brin said. “These are words he really uses.”
Personality permeates every aspect of his personality.
Jill Martin, former on-air character on Madison Square Garden and a close friend of Frazier, remembers the time the two were shopping for the announcer’s sparkly suits. Martin noticed a swatch that seemed completely unattainable: polka dots and stripes of different colours.
Clyde said. How do these two models work together?
Martin is now a fashion reporter on “The Today Show”. She knows what she’s talking about. But Fraser always turns to the winner.
He replied, “Gil, everything goes together.”
Clyde-isms didn’t have a 100% approval rate when Frazier started using them on radio years ago.
Having played 13 seasons for the Knicks and Cavaliers From 1967 to 1980, Frazier joined Radio Knicks in the late 1980s. His clips in the pre-match, halftime, and post-match show were not played more than three to four minutes.
“I was very uncomfortable because I was going to start talking and I couldn’t finish,” he said.
An inauspicious start means an inevitable adjustment. He had to limit the words. That’s when the thesaurus and the arts and entertainment department started. It’s when he created this MSG broadcast language. He says one of the reasons he continues to use SAT words is to educate children who are watching.
The method works. Is there a 12-year-old Knicks fan who doesn’t know the meaning of omnipotence?
But Mike McCarthy, the producer who aired on the Knicks from 1982 to 2005, remembers a time when New York had not yet mastered the Clyde language.
Broadcast 101 says that people on TV or radio should use the simplest and shortest words so as not to turn off their viewers. You don’t want the listener to feel stupid or distracted because you communicated in an unreachable way. Frasier was breaking those ground rules with his catchy vocabulary. Prose in rhyme also.
“I remember fighting on his behalf many times with people from upper management, the Knicks management, because there was an impression that he was an outsider,” McCarthy said. “As in so many cases in the broadcasting world, things have to fade and people need to be given time to get to know their listeners and/or television audience.”
There is a finesse in Frazier’s rhythm on air. Sure, if any other announcer referred to a “premature newbie” on TV, those might be the last two words this person spoke on air.
“He’s the only one who I think in sports broadcasting can use some of those words,” Brin said. “But it’s perfect when he uses it.”
Now, Fraser’s voice and, more importantly, his unparalleled brain are an essential part of Nick’s experience.
“What was deliberately criticized for being outrageous is now commonplace,” McCarthy said. “And I don’t think Knicks fans could even understand doing that without her.”
(Top image by Frazier: Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)