Casey Holdahl at Forward/Center announced that the Portland Trail Blazers have hired Kevin Calabro to be the new play-by-play television announcer. Calabro, a Seattle announcing legend, spent 21 years with the Seattle SuperSonics, including their mid-'90s glory years. He'll take over the lead announcer role this fall, replacing the departing Mike Barrett. His color commentary partner has not yet been announced.
Calabro grew up in Indiana and graduated from Butler University in 1978. Afterward, he floated around a few leagues, including the Central Hockey League and NCAA basketball. His first stint with the NBA was in nearby Kansas City, where he announced for the Kings in 1983-84, prior to their move to Sacramento. He landed the Sonics announcing job in 1987, where he immediately became one of the voices of the franchise. When original Sonics announcer Bob Blackburn retired in 1992, Calabro took the lead role as Seattle ascended to the NBA's elite behind Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton.
In 2008, the NBA approved the Sonics' move from Seattle to Oklahoma City. Calabro protested the unpopular move by refusing to join the team in Oklahoma. He was seen as a folk hero by a dedicated fan base who'd just lost their team.
Since leaving the Sonics, Calabro can regularly be heard on national television. He's worked with the Turner Networks (TNT, TBS, and NBA TV) and ESPN Radio.
Calabro is well-regarded across broadcast media, and will likely be noticed by basketball fans in the Seattle area, who might be interested in hearing an "old friend" on the microphone. Here's a sample of Calabro's announcing from the legendary Sonics/Nuggets first round playoff series:
As the Blazers prepare for free agency, which will open with the annual quiet period on July 1st at midnight, they still have some business to complete: They are expected to finalize their new broadcasting contract by the end of June They will also need to find a broadcasting partner for Calabro. Holdahl reports that Calabro will have a role in hiring that person.
Calabro will have a say in who will work alongside him as analyst, a hire the team hopes to make by the end of summer— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) June 17, 2016
Early reaction to the hire in the media has been overwhelmingly positive.
Quite a coup for the Blazers, who just announced they've hired the one and only @realkcalabro to be their play-by-play voice next season.— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 17, 2016
WHOA! Blazers hired Kevin Calabro as their new play-by-play. That’s the best option possible.— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) June 17, 2016