Best Play-by-Play Broadcaster Phoenix 2010 - Phoenix Suns' Gary Bender
Gary Bender is simply the gold standard of sports broadcasting in Phoenix. You're in good hands with him. He's traditionally upbeat (after all, sports is entertainment), but he isn't afraid to call out players and coaches when they've messed up. You may be saying that giving Bender, 69, the nod ain't saying much, considering the competition of play-by-play guys like the Arizona Diamondbacks' fawning Daron Sutton. But Bender would shine in any market. Indeed, he has. He started his career broadcasting University of Kansas basketball and football games. He worked for CBS Sports doing National Football League broadcasts, alongside the likes of John Madden, for 11 years in the 1970s and '80s; he spent two years in the late '80s as a play-by-play baseball broadcaster for ABC, and worked NFL games for TNT, beside Pat Haden, from '92-94. In his autobiography, Call of the Game, Bender cites Reggie Jackson's huge ego in describing run-ins he had with the baseball great in the broadcast booth: "Reggie demanded things he hadn't earned the right to demand. He wanted more attention. He insisted we adjust our way of doing things for him." Last year, Gary took a break from his regular gig on Fox Sports Arizona to broadcast a TNT game with Reggie Miller. Let's hope Reggie and Charles Barkley don't persuade the national network to steal him away. We're lucky to have a pro behind the mic in this desert of bush-league talent.