Bernstein: Stacey King Needs To Pull Back

By Dan Bernstein- Senior Columnist

(CBS) The act is this close to Jumping the Shark.

Stacey King’s TV analysis of Bulls games is zooming over the water toward the ramp, as onlookers crowd the beachfront. The delicate boundary that separates the plausible from the ridiculous is being threatened as something very good is quickly becoming just too much.

Thankfully, there’s still time to veer away.

More than a year ago, I used this space to describe my enjoyment of King’s descriptions of Derrick Rose’s powerful athleticism, as one kind of explosiveness complemented another. I did, however, include the following:

“Catch phrases all too quickly can become crutches, and cute can get cloying. He has to make sure his emotional level matches the moment, and he’s not overreaching to be the show. We all cringe, for example, when we hear Dick Vitale howling ‘Awesome with a capital A!!’ after a mundane alley-oop dunk by somebody you’ve never heard of in a Maui Classic game between New Mexico and NC State. Where do you go from there when something really merits it?”

Which brings us to where we are now, with a Bulls team that has settled into a front-runner’s role in a strange NBA season, resulting in a completely different backdrop for a broadcaster’s art. The lockout-compressed schedule has put multiple games in front of us each week, too many of which feature flaccid opposition and little natural drama. Rose has missed 36 percent of the games, and has played tentatively in others.

Where last year King’s effusive outbursts matched the moments — Rose’s bravura MVP performance, newly-signed players showing their capabilities, all buying into the rigid demands of a first-year coach – they now start to overwhelm.

The stinging playoff loss to Miami has focused our attention on bigger, more important goals than winning these desultory, unsatisfying games behind John Lucas III and a one-handed Luol Deng. There will be time soon, we hope, for on-court moments that seem truer.

Simply, King needs to be real. Not every nice play by Ronnie Brewer needs to be punctuated with “Chicago’s finest brew.” Ugh. Taj Gibson is valuable and unheralded, but “Hard hat, lunch pail” needs some room to breathe. Same with “Asik and destroy.”

And Kyle Korver was signed because he is a three-point shooting specialist. In fact, he’s one of the best ever in the NBA. When he makes one, he is doing his job: just like a plumber successfully unclogging a sink, a truck driver reaching his destination, or an accountant finalizing a tax return. If he nails a shot to give the Bulls the lead in the fourth quarter of a hard-fought game against real competition, it’s “hot sauce.” Otherwise, it’s what we expect him to do.

The online soundboard of King’s calls was fun last year. Same goes for the “talking” bobblehead distributed to fans this season. The problem comes when we start to wonder if either one could be a functioning replacement for the actual inspiration.

And the fact that King is now involved in selling catch-phrase-emblazoned merchandise sets off all kinds of alarms. Is he using the telecasts for free advertising, marketing his brand and selling t-shirts, or is he calling the game as it presents itself? Viewers’ trust matters, and it’s tough to get it back once you lose it.

Be a carnival-barking salesman, or be an analyst.

The good news is, King still can choose the latter, and be really good at it. He knows the game, and can describe it and teach it. And he can still have plenty of fun, picking the right spots.

What he does not want to become is Ken Harrelson, who is now merely a collection of prefabricated, push-button idioms bound together by umpire-baiting and hoary tales of a bygone era. Every long flyout was “just missed,” every liner into a thoughtfully-positioned defense a “hang wiff’em,” each grounder a “chopper two-hopper.” We know what’s coming.

Stacey King has talent, energy and ability, and he has some decisions to make as his promising career benefits from a compelling time in Bulls history. People are watching and listening.

He can avoid Jumping the Shark, if he keeps from Aping the Hawk.

bernstein 90x130 Bernstein: Stacey King Needs To Pull Back

Dan Bernstein

Dan Bernstein has been the co-host of “Boers and Bernstein” since 1999. He joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995. The Boers and Bernstein Show airs every weekday from 1PM to 6PM on The Score, 670AM. Read more of Bernstein’s columns here. Follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.
Listen to The Boers and Bernstein Show podcasts >>

More from Dan Bernstein
  • Larry Horse's Arse Horse's Arse

    Oh, the irony.

    • Schmutzie

      Oh, the predictability.

    • Larry Horse's Arse

      LHAHA nailed it, first horse out of the gate.

  • Davey

    Eddie O > King

    • Raoul Duke

      STOP IT RIGHT HERE! Love Eddie O

  • Bears Force 5

    I too am getting sick and tired of it. Lets not forget the catch phrase how to put videos on Facebook every time someone dunks. It takes away from the game. Its annoying. Otherwise he is very good. Excellent insight.

    • Markie Maypo

      Then stop watching or mute your TV and turn on the Boo-Yahs on ESPN1000. I’m sure THEY never repeat catch phrases and ALWAYS have fresh, original material (cough, cough)

  • Theojdog

    Bernzie the curmudgeon… turning in to the Greg Kot of sports

    • JOHN


  • Danielo

    King’s catch phrases are definitely becoming a tad stale, but part of me wonders if he’d have to say them so much if his broadcasting partner, Neil Funk, wasn’t such an old, un-hip dork. Funk is incredibly dull, and seems to have so little to say that he usually just over-emphasizes or even stretches out words, seemingly in an attempt to try and sound excited or emotionally invested in a game that’s passing him by more and more with each passing day.

    For now I’ll give Stacey the benefit of the doubt and assume that he’s just occasionally trying a little too hard to provide more “yin” to contrast Funk’s “yang”, but I agree with Dan that it’s all getting very close to becoming a cartoonish shtick.

    • Robert

      Funk is a hunk.

  • misterchi

    bernstein should do what i do when it comes to his and boers’ whiny old guys with endless inside joke routine: change the channel. at least stacey seems to be having fun, boers and bernstein always sound like they’re bored being the only smart guys in the room.

    • rich

      Exactly! Do what you tell your listeners to do that think you and the other blow hard are too over the top. Turn the dial! This is too funny having someone like you right an article about Stacey needing to back off when your show has become the best reason to turn to AM1000.

    • dmmcg

      Agree and them some. Let people have good clean fun. Do we always need to splash cold water on what a lot of people appear to enjoy? The Bulls are winning! Let’s live in the moment and enjoy. Bernstein actually thinks we can’t wait to hear what he says next. I for one, am not interested.

      • Tony Stark

        @Danielo (again):The only proven way to minimize the “meatball fan mentality” (IMO) is to have the local pro teams (and college too, in certain sports) not only contend for the championship for their particular sport(s) on an annual basis, but ACTUALLY win the championship on occasion. Otherwise, the people covering sports for a living might as well resign themselves to having to deal with the “meatball fan mentality” for the rest of their careers.

        B&B are far from the only ones that feel this way. I recall John “Rock” Mamola posting a blog entry on this very subject when he had a blog on a few years back. I can see their point to a degree, I’m of the mindset that as long as it doesn’t harm anyone else, then I’m not going to get that worked up about it, as Bernstein and other media members do.

        Surely they’re not so naive as to believe they can get ALL fans to care only about wins and losses and nothing else, are they?

      • Tony Stark

        I agree. Why the people covering sports in this city always feel it’s necessary to be a bunch of ‘wet blankets’ is beyond me.

        @Danielo:What exactly is the national view of the Chicago sports fans anyway? And more importantly, why is Bernstein and others so consumed with worry about it? It’s safe to say fans in other cities don’t give a rat’s you-know-what about the average Chicago sports fan’s view of their particular sports scene(s), why should fans and the media here care so much about what the national view is?

      • Danielo

        Bernstein can be very pessimistic at times; I think it stems from the fact that he’s too aware of how the Chicago sports scene and its fans are viewed on a national scale.

      • Danielo

        @Tony, I never said ANYBODY should care about how Chicago fans are perceived; all I said was that in my opinion, Dan DOES.

        And honestly, I could see why he’d have his guard up a bit when it comes to this, since they get so many stupid callers every day that probably make people think Chicago is a town full of meatheads.

  • wierzbo

    bernystein just is jealous and a fool! fun, not condeming and an arrogant ass.

  • medah20001

    Bernstein is the one that can shut up as far as I am concerned. I value his opinion about nothing. I turn to AM 1000 whenever his show comes on. He ad Boers have become old and tired themselves.

    • Lil' Bycracke

      …So he is worth commenting about?

  • Steve Frederick

    Wow I finally agree with Bernstein here. I’m shocked. The facebook call is so out played now.

  • Reece Krishnan

    The Scrooge that wrote this obviously doesn’t like when someone profits from their success. Stacey King is no celebrity, he’s just a former Bulls player that is very good at commentating. Personally I don’t care if he’s making money off bobble heads or t shirts. The reason being he’s always said his one liners from the beginning. It’s not like he’s saying them more now because he’s gaining attention. I don’t even know if he’s getting profit from the “too big too fast too strong too good” shirts, or if he initiated the sale of them.

    I for one enjoy the expressions. He also comes up with new ones to change it up. “Reservations for 3, Kyle Korver”. Corny? Kinda, but that’s what makes it fun(ny). You can tell he’s enjoying the game just as much as us viewers, and lets loose with his one liners and jokes when something crazy happens. King is doing something most cookie cutter commentators won’t dare to do, and you have to respect him for that. He’s managed to bridge the gap between younger fans and older fans, and I appreciate him for being different.

  • L J

    I’m afraid Bernstein is correct. Not every dunk need to be posted on Facebook. Stacy just need to be himself and his natural talent will come through.

    • chicalik

      He doesn’t say it for “every dunk”. And if anyone is being himself, it’s Stacy King and what yo’re witnessing IS HIS natural talent. If you don’t like what you hear, use the “mute” feature on your TV. And if may help to get off of Bernstein’s jockstrap and think for yourself.


      BERNSTEIN is about as correct as the term SMOKING DOESN’T CAUSE LUNG CANCER. BERNSTIEN is just another piece of s@#t radio announcer who’s using people, manipulating them into his road to being the next HOWARD STERN of the radio world pretty soon this guy will create a lynch mob in this town making him public enemy number 1

  • Harry

    By Cracky? He fights for us?

  • Ironjaw

    On the money, Dan. I love Stacey, but I also see him trending toward the Vitale and Harrelson route, and that’s a sad place to be. I really hope he can pull it back.

  • MetalGuy

    I actually agree With Bernstein with the exception that I’ve never liked Stacey King and I’ve thought his stupid one-liners were terrible from the start.

  • tom sharp

    He sucked as a player (the “smallest 7 footer” in NBA history) and he is worse as an announcer. A blatant homer who cries like a baby every time a call goes against the Bulls. No way i could ever watch a game with the sound on.

  • Dan

    We’ll know the transformation is complete when Stacey starts gushing about Yaz.

  • john a

    the problem with chicago is not stacy king but its the stupid uninformed so called experts like bernstein who thinks they are in the know but are so into themselves they hate giving credit to others….

    • chicalik

      Excellent point. King knows more about the game than Bernstein will ever know. And I wonder if there isn’t a little bit of envy there. After all, I’ve yet to see a talking bobble-head named Bernstein.

  • James

    stacey king was a bust and a fabricated first rounder and is nothing more than a cheap showman now.

  • nwfisch

    Bernstein hates someone people like?

    Color me shocked.

  • Ken

    I wish Boers could be paired with someone else, Bernstein is so damn annoying. The “I hate all popular things” routine is getting so old. Boers seems so much more bearable when not with this whiny jack ass.

  • Dan's Mother

    You’re an angry and sad little man, Dan. Reliant on drawing attention by always going against the grain… You’re a phony and a sham.

  • been banned

    Boers will shill with any partner, as long as he’s collecting that half a mil a year give away the SCORE pays him. I just dont see the attraction to a guy who never attends sporting events, rarely watches them on TV, and has not stayed current. Throw in a Bernsie, who btw got the idea for this current story from his son—he commented Friday his son is already imitating the calls before they happen, and went on to espouse about it…so understand where and from whom he’s getting 80 percent of his story ideas….which is my compliant too with Boers—he’s a former ST Sportswriter, yet never contributes a written piece to the Web Site his own name is shared with. Dude is old, tired and lazy now. Please, move this fraud along and maybe you could run fewer commercials so as not to have to fund this fraud.

    btw–Bacardi at the Park is the new liquor shilling going on now that Jamieson and St Pats has moved on. Hope Danny Mac isnt out on rehab for liquor/pain pill abuse—he’ll be challenged having to read that kind of copy or do live remotes from boozing locations.

    • Danielo

      Danny Mac is the worst for sooo many reasons, but why are you constantly complaining about how much these guys get paid? Even if they are indeed all the negative things you say they are, their show is still without a doubt the most successful, longest-running (and most entertaining) sports talk program in town, so they must be doin something right.

  • Ry

    I have to disagree with Dan on this one. Yes, some of the Staceyisms are way too obnoxious, but beneath the cascade of catchphrases is a well-spoken analyst, and it shows on the broadcasts. He is nowhere near the homerism of Ken Harrelson. Stacey will give credit where credit is due, even if it’s to the opponents benefit, and he maintains an upbeat attitude when things aren’t going so well for the Bulls(unlike Hawk, who leaves Stone high and dry when the Sox are down by 10)

    And I personally love the fact that Staceyisms are now a part of this Bulls revival. It’s a positive time to be a fan of the franchise. If they want to market it, go for it. But with that said, the catchphrases will only be effective if the team plays well. No one wants to hear “hot sauce” if the Bulls are a .500 bum-ass team.

    It’s a special time to be a Bulls fan, so you might as well enjoy it while it’s still hear.

  • kev in skokie

    Chicago sure has had a long sad run as far as our announcers . Can any city claim to be more miserable? Hawk is bad, DJ was worse. Bob Brenley is okay, but the next time Len Kasper has a baseball thought it will be a first. I guess he’s better than Joe Carter. He and Chip Carey were a real snooze fest. I guess he’s on the path, but Stacy King has a long way to go to the title. The only saving grace is Steve Stone, I wish he could muzzle Hawk with a ball gag after the 2nd inning, though.

  • chicalik

    Bernstein, speak for yourself and stop trying to use your article(s) to manipulate people into disliking what you dislike. Who cares about whether or not YOU like the job King does. I certainly don’t. Mind you business and work on perfecting your craft a little more.

    • Tony Stark

      But if everyone starts liking what he likes, he’ll rail against that too before long

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Weather Reports Delivered To You!SIGN UP NOW: Get daily weather reports every morning from meteorologist Steve Baskerville!
CBS Sports Radio RoundupGet your latest sports talk from across the country.

Listen Live