Hubert Jude Brown was born on Sept. 25, 1933, making him 80 years old. Most people, if they are lucky enough to reach that advanced age, are retired, set out to pasture to live a more relaxed life at that point in their lives.
For a man whose coaching career spanned through four decades — including being named NBA Coach of the Year in 1978 and 2004 (what?!?) — and spent pretty the entire time between and since as a fantastic NBA announcer that led him to the Hall of Fame, it'd be easy for Brown to look at his list of accomplishments and call it a career.
Instead, Hubie Brown just keeps on calling NBA games, keeps on breaking down plays, keeps on sharing his knowledge each and every time he puts those headphones on. And even at 80, Hubie Brown is as good as it gets in sports broadcasting.
Every time I tune in to an NBA on ESPN game and hear Hubie's trademark voice, I cannot help but appreciate just how damn good he is, and there are several reasons why.
For starters, Hubie knows as much about basketball as anyone else walking on this earth, which you might expect from a former coach. But what makes Hubie so remarkable is how on top of things he still is, at 80 years old. If there is any slip from him, it's minuscule. Just listen to the way he can rattle off stats and streaks, strengths and weaknesses, new nuances and old habits of all of today's players. He understands the game, how it's changed and evolved, and how each player that takes the court fits into his team and how his game translates. Time has certainly not passed him by.
Piggybacking on that, he's always right on top of what a team is trying to do on the floor. He relays the game plan of each team, what the teams plan to do, how they want to defend certain players, defend as a team, the way they are going to run their offense and attack the opposition. The way he talks about adjustments and what a coach is trying to do, it's evident he still has the knowledge to coach today.
But the biggest reason why Hubie Brown is a true national treasure is that, no matter what, when I listen to a game he calls, I learn something new. For someone as passionate and knowledgeable about the game as I like to think I am — being an avid fan my whole life — I still learn something every time Hubie is on the mic. Whether it is breaking down a play in detail to watching the way a player boxes out or runs off a screen or fights through a pick, Hubie will break it down and relay it to the audience as only a coach can. He can tell you how many dribbles a guy takes at the foul line, how often he goes over or under screens, and any damn thing else you want to know or may not even know you want to know.
Simply put, Hubie Brown drops knowledge, night in and night out.
And the best part is he isn't smug about it at all. Hubie simply calls the game and tells you what he sees, as if you are a player he is coaching. It's amazing, really, his ability to teach so much yet do it in a way that doesn't make you feel stupid or annoyed for not knowing it. And his humble nature is always on full display, evidenced by the fact that when Brown does make an uncharacteristic mistake — whether it be saying the wrong player's name or getting a call wrong — he's quick to correct himself on air, something too few announcers do.
Each and every season, I wait with bated breath for the news that Hubie is retiring his voice, and every season, I am relieved to hear him call game after game. If you don't like listening to Hubie, if you don't appreciate how remarkable he truly is, then I simply feel sorry for you. Because you are missing out on learning something new, missing out on one of the great NBA minds sharing his knowledge of the past, the present and even the future of the game.
Hubie Brown is a teacher, and every time I hear his voice, I am an eager student. His voice, his cadence, his knowledge, his ability to relay what's going on, his attention to detail and preparation — they all equate to the best in the business. Even after eight decades on this earth.
Hubie Brown is a national treasure, one that NBA fans should not take for granted.
Reverend Paul Revere, aka Joe Boland, is a sports blogger out of Philadelphia whose life revolves around sports 365 and a quarter days per year. Keep up with Rev at his own personal blog, The House That Glanville Built and on Twitter.