The NBA Playoffs Are Here, and Another Ring Chase Is On for This Broadcasting Hoo

April 15, 2024 By Andrew Ramspacher, fpa5up@virginia.edu Andrew Ramspacher, fpa5up@virginia.edu

In addition to the sharp suit and silk tie, John Crotty’s working attire includes a diamond-encrusted, 14-karat-gold championship ring. 

He wears the jewelry with pride each time he dons a headset and analyzes a game for the Miami Heat. 

“It’s been great to be a part of this franchise,” Crotty said. 

Crotty, a former star point guard for the University of Virginia, has been a member of the Heat’s broadcast team – whether on radio or television – since 2005, a ride that’s included three NBA championships. He, like others in the organization, received a ring after each title. 

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The stunning band he sports now comes from the 2012-13 season, when the LeBron James-led Heat knocked off the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals. 

Miami, the defending Eastern Conference champions, begins its next playoff run Wednesday against the Philadelphia 76ers in a play-in game to determine the No. 7 seed in the East. 

 

 

Crotty, who broadcasts for Bally Sports Sun in Miami, isn’t the only former Wahoo involved with an NBA playoff team this spring. Alumni are on the rosters of the postseason-bound Atlanta Hawks (De’Andre Hunter), Boston Celtics (Sam Hauser), Cleveland Cavaliers (Ty Jerome), Denver Nuggets (Jay Huff and Braxton Key), New Orleans Pelicans (Trey Murphy) and New York Knicks (Mamadi Diakite). 

UVA Today caught up with Crotty earlier this season to discuss his broadcasting career, seeing fellow Wahoos in the NBA and how he feels now that his UVA record for most career assists has been broken. 

Q. How did you get into broadcasting?

A. I played 11 years in the NBA and, in the summertime, I tried to spend two to three weeks reflecting about what I was going to do after my playing career ended. Typically, that meant I would do an internship through the NBA. 

John Crotty black and white and colored action shots from UVA basket ball days
Crotty was a two-time All-Atlantic Coast Conference player for UVA and left as the program’s all-time leader in assists. (UVA Athletics photo)

I would set up different things – I did a stock exchange internship, where I was on the floor, at one point. I worked with an institutional trader at a desk in New York one time. And I had the opportunity to do some broadcasting, which was something I thought I would enjoy – talking about the game. I played for the Heat during my career, and this guy (Heat play-by-play announcer Eric Reid) in the offseason actually did two games with me with the sound off of games he had already done. We basically created a resume tape for me. 

And then a couple of years after I retired, the radio color analyst position became open as that gentleman was being bumped up into the TV role. So then, I ended up getting a radio opportunity and that’s what I did for the beginning part of my career. Then I worked in studio television for games, and then, ultimately, I moved to game analyst for TV. It’s been great.

Q. How does your UVA experience help you as a broadcaster?

A. I was a history major, so I didn’t do anything from a broadcasting standpoint. But being the captain of the basketball team, I was more often than not the face that came out and talked after the good and the bad (games) and had to address media. And I learned a lot from that.

Q. In what ways?

A. It taught me to appreciate the jobs of the people who are asking me the question. I developed that reputation as being somebody who they can count on to give a truthful answer. As a result, they were always fair with me. 

Q. Can you compare the roles of being a basketball player and being a basketball analyst? 

A. I’m a former point guard, so I’m used to seeing things and trying to understand how people are taking advantage offensively or defensively. So, it’s very natural for me to analyze the game that way. And that’s why I think it’s fun for me to do that as a color analyst.

People see the dunk, they see the great shot, but for me, it’s always how and why it’s happening. And I try to articulate that to the best of my ability. 

Q. What’s it been like to see so many former UVA players in the NBA over the last decade?

A. It’s great. First of all, it’s a huge compliment to coach Tony Bennett. He’s done an amazing job providing stability and producing a competitive, winning program every single year. The guys that he’s getting to come to the NBA are hard-nosed, tough, competitive guys who can defend. And while being a great defender doesn’t come across as the sexiest thing, at this level that matters. 

John Crotty speaking into microphone in a live interview
Crotty has called Heat games on television alongside Eric Reid, right, for several seasons. (Photo by Matt Riley, University Communications)

And then the ability to spread the court and shoot the basketball. The 3-point shot has never been more important analytically, and that program has been putting out a lot of quality players who can do that.

Q. Who are some former UVA players who you enjoy watching in the NBA?

A. I really enjoyed watching Joe Harris when he would go on his runs. Malcolm Brogdon, I really appreciate the way he’s been able to perform whatever has been asked of him, as a starter to sixth man. He’s been a real professional. 

Even Anthony Gill in Washington, the role he plays as a defensive player and rebounder, I appreciate that. 

The Lab Our Nation Turns To For Saving Lives On The Road, to be great and good in all we do
The Lab Our Nation Turns To For Saving Lives On The Road, to be great and good in all we do

It’s just great to see those guys. I don’t always have the best connectivity points, but UVA always allows me to break the ice and say hello when I can.

Q. You held the record for most career assists at UVA for 32 years until Kihei Clark broke it on Feb. 18, 2023, against Notre Dame. You were at that game. What was that like to see in person?

A. It was the (NBA) all-star break, so I planned to come back and be on our farm (outside Charlottesville). And about two weeks out, someone hit me up and said, “Kihei Clark’s close to tying or beating your assists record.” I was not aware. 

But I totally embraced him, seeing him do what he did. He was a great winner for the program. They were at their best when he was the point guard for the team.

Media Contact

Andrew Ramspacher

University News Associate University Communications