The Portland Trail Blazers announced earlier today that they have parted ways with broadcasters Mike Barrett, Mike Rice, and Antonio Harvey. The move effectively overhauls the team's broadcast crew for both radio and TV.
Trail Blazers President & CEO Chris McGowan issued a press release detailing the changes:
After reviewing our entire broadcast operation over the past couple of seasons, I felt it was a good time for us to transition into a new direction. I would like to thank our broadcasters for their years of dedicated service to our organization and wish them nothing but success in their future endeavors. Going forward, we will focus our efforts on a national search to fill our open TV broadcast positions, with the number one goal of bringing in top-notch talent that our fans will be excited to watch during Trail Blazers broadcasts.
McGowan also announced in the press release that replacements have not yet been hired, but a search process to replace Rice and Barrett is underway. Harvey will not be replaced; radio play-by-play announcer Brian Wheeler will call games solo next season, according to the Oregonian's Joe Freeman.
Mike Rice has been with the team the longest, hitting his 26th anniversary this past season. He started out on the radio side in 1991, after winning a 4-way tryout where he spent a quarter alongside legendary broadcaster Bill Schonely. After 15 years in the radio booth Rice moved on to the big time in 2006-07 season, beginning his TV work alongside Barrett.
Rice's claim to fame was his "Wild One" persona. Willing and able to say anything at anytime, and pronounce anyone's name incorrectly multiple times. He had a crazy uncle vibe that endeared him to Portland fans for years. One time in 1994, it may have crossed the line from wild to just plain crazy, when he became the only broadcaster to ever be ejected from an NBA basketball game.
Mike Barrett joined the Trail Blazers in 1999 as the radio studio host and the play-by-play voice of the WNBA's Portland Fire. After the team folded concluding the 2003 season, Barrett started working the TV broadcast alongside Steve "Snapper" Jones.
The dynamic duo of "Mike and Mike" wouldn't be formed until the 2006-07 season. However in Barrett and Rice's time with the Blazers, they served as steadying hands when the team went through some rather tumultuous times; the Jail Blazers, the Greg Oden and Brandon Roy injuries, and the departure of LaMarcus Aldridge. However, they were also there at the rebirth of the franchise following the lows of the Jail Blazers. As things began to turn around after the 2006 NBA Draft that landed both Roy and Aldridge in Portland, and the 2007 Draft that brought in Oden, Barrett and Rice were there along the way to be the link that kept the past, present, and future of the Trail Blazers together.
Antonio Harvey has been with the Trail Blazers in a few capacities. First as a player for two seasons from 1999-2001, then back to the team once his playing career was finished to work as a radio analyst alongside longtime voice of the Trail Blazers, Brian Wheeler.
Fan reactions have been rolling in from all over. Here's what's being said so far.
Reactions seem to be piling up on Twitter quite quickly, as this snap shot was taken at roughly 12:40 PM PST.