Miles Bridges of the spunky Charlotte Hornets did a cool dunk Sunday night against the Portland Trail Blazers. A miscommunication and some hilariously broken point-of-attack defense gave Bridges a clean runway to the cup, and Bridges threw down a mighty slam to put the Hornets up 14 points in the second quarter.
A good dunk! Press play and then close your eyes: You hear the thump when Bridges punches the ball through the hoop, and you can hear in the voices of Portland’s broadcasters—particularly that little “oh no” as Bridges rises from the floor and keeps rising—their appreciation for the cool dunk and their admiration of Bridges’s growing reputation for doing big cool jams. Now, here is that same dunk, but with severely over-caffeinated Hornets play-by-play guy Eric Collins on the call. Close your eyes on this one and you will hear the sound of someone looking upon the face of God while also being chased around a moonlit cabin by a chainsaw-wielding Jason Voorhees:
I hate it! Eric Collins is a Gus Johnson reboot produced and directed by J.J. Abrams. Johnson isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but at least his shrieking is for the most part scaled to the intensity of the action on the floor. Collins’s deal is he shrieks at everything. Miles Bridges makes a layup in traffic: OHHHHHH MY GOOOOOOOOOOD WHOOP-DI-DOOOOOOO AHHHHHHHHHHHH!! Devonte Graham is fouled on a three-pointer: GRAHAM AAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH HUM-DIDDLY-DEE HOW DO YOU LIKE ME NOWWWWWWWW!!!!! Terry Rozier steps to the line and makes two free throws, in a February home game against the Steph Curry-less Golden State Warriors? AHHH YEAHHHHH TERRY TWOOOOOOOOO BEAUTIES!!! That’s not an exaggeration! Here is video evidence of this exact moment.
The idea here is to exploit the spread of NBA highlights on social media by ensuring that every single positive thing that happens in a Hornets game is accompanied by the sound of someone’s head exploding in rapture. You come across a given Hornets highlight on Twitter—P.J. Washington dropping in an utterly unremarkable point-blank bucket in transition (“P.J. AHEAD OF THE PAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK … YESSSSSS!!!!!”), or Rozier making a wide-open above-the-break three (“FUMBLED IT AND STILL HIT IT … WWWOOOOWWWW!!!”), or literally Vernon Carey making an uncontested straightaway three in the first quarter of a regular season game (“VERNON … OHHHHH YYYYES!!! RHAPSODY IN BROOKLYN EARLY FOR THE ROOKIE!!!!!”)—and Collins having a huge meltdown on the audio makes you think for a moment that there’s big drama going on for Charlotte. I fell for this myself this very morning, when the ear-splitting sound of Collins losing his mind briefly convinced me that Bridges’s nice dunk against the Blazers was in the same category as his breathtaking poster slam over Clint Capela from last week. Collins is essentially a social media strategy. His purpose is to make Hornets highlights go viral. And it works!
It also makes the experience of watching a Hornets game from beginning to end completely unbearable. There’s only so much the human ear can tolerate, and Collins evacuating his lungs from his body every time Gordon Hayward throws in a leaner exceeds any reasonable limits. That it will be met with deafening, performative shrieking makes the sudden buildup of a potential Hornets highlight a source of immediate dread. Collins makes pro-wrestling broadcasts seem like the Westminster Dog Show. Actual baked hams are less hammy. I defy you to watch this reel of Collins calls from front to back without taking a long break to go stand somewhere quiet and stare off into the middle distance.
No person should ever find themselves screaming “TROY … DANIELS!!!!!” unless they are being actively attacked by a lion and Troy Daniels is the only person within earshot who can help them. Collins fucks up the highlight economy every time he requires defibrillation following a Cody Zeller layup. This is not an argument for tasteful, mature restraint or whatever—Collins should feel free to spend every Hornets broadcast making butt jokes and flicking boogers around the booth. Be a goober! But please just shut up and let me enjoy the basketball.
It’s ultimately no great loss for NBA fans that this damn Collins is making Hornets games unwatchable—at least not while LaMelo Ball is out and while it is still possible to toggle between broadcasts on NBA League Pass—because only the sickest of sickos would even consider watching a full Hornets regular-season basketball game. Still I must insist that Eric Collins settle the hell down before the Hornets become actually good and in all the excitement he barfs his whole skeleton out following a Bismack Biyombo defensive rebound. Dude, chill.