Kevin Harlan Is ‘Thrilled’ To Call An NBA All-Star Game For The First Time In His Career

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Kevin Harlan got to witness a pretty special moment earlier this NBA season. Harlan, the veteran broadcaster who has become a fixture on Turner’s NBA coverage over the years, called the opening night tilt between the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers. Before the game, Harlan’s broadcast partner, Reggie Miller, was surprised by the Inside the NBA crew with the news of his inclusion on the NBA 75 list.

“That night, if I’m not mistaken, the commissioner was at our game, and he stopped by to wish Reggie a very warm congratulations, and then he and I shook hands,” Harlan tells Dime. “And I said, ‘I gotta tell you, Commissioner, I saw him when he was elected to the Hall of Fame, and this honor is right up there.’ The Hall of Fame recognizes contributors and coaches and longevity, it recognizes kind of a wide swath for the Hall of Fame in Springfield. But this is so particular, it’s like taking the best of the best and finding the best, of the best, of the best. And that’s why I think it struck him, even with his historic numbers, it’s just like, you’ve got to be kidding me.”

Harlan viewed himself as “incredibly fortunate” to get to witness that moment with Miller, just like he views himself as fortunate to do everything that gets put on his plate as a broadcaster. Fresh off of calling the Super Bowl for Westwood One Sports, Harlan is heading to Cleveland to serve as TNT’s lead broadcaster for the 2022 NBA All-Star Game. It’s a rare first for Harlan, who has never done any sort of All-Star Game in his broadcasting tenure.

Ahead of the game — which he will call the game alongside Miller and Dwyane Wade while Allie LaForce is on sideline duty — Dime caught up with Harlan to talk about the game, his career, and more.

What are your thoughts on getting the call your first NBA All-Star game?

I’m clearly thrilled. I’m so appreciative that this opportunity has come my way at this stage of my career. There’s not a lot of new things I’m doing, and so this is a new twist on something I’ve done, but the All-Star Game is something I’ve never actually broadcast. We’ve had the greatest ever to do it in Marv, and it’s always been an honor to kind of follow him on the Turner roster. I still they actually feel his presence and don’t feel like anyone is is taking over, so to speak. I think we’re in the same chair by luck, and trying to carry on the great tradition he has set in this business, and with specialty things like this — whether it’s the Finals, or conference finals, or certainly the the All-Star Game, which I’m thrilled to do and feel honored to do, very, very honored to be in that seat that he occupied for so many years.

And is this your first All-Star Game in any sport? Have you ever done a Pro Bowl, MLB All-Star Game, anything like that?

I never have. I’ve gotten some secondhand advice from Joe Buck on how he has been doing the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, not directly from him, although we’re friends and we text, this is his downtime, so I’ve not bothered him and his family. But I had talked to someone at the Super Bowl this past weekend who worked with Joe a lot, they said it’s kind of an awkward game to do, because as I’ve been describing it, it’s kind of like a circus. In the circus, there’s always something going on, right? There’s someone on the trapeze, or someone walking on the high wire, there’s the guy that’s taming the lions, there’s a guy eating fire, there’s all this stuff going on.

And that’s how it is, I kind of envision, after watching so many of them, the All-Star Game. Every play, every pass, every guy that’s got the ball, is going to do something magical with it. Literally every basket could be something right out of a highlight book. In a regular NBA game, you may get a highlight or two a quarter, and then some maybe down the stretch are big plays. But the All-Star Game, it’s kind of this cavalcade of one great player producing one great something every time, and that makes it very fun. I’ll kind of let picture speak for itself, let Dwyane and Reggie get in there and do what they do so well, give them a wide berth to talk about it. But no, I’ve never done anything like this before. It’s gonna be a first, and I always look forward to those kinds of challenges.

Yeah, I was gonna say, you’re someone who always comes off like you’re having fun when you’re calling games, and I imagine with an All-Star Game, that’s something that you go in expecting to almost be amplified for all the reasons you just laid out.

Yeah, I think so. I think I’m a fan first of the game and the players. I see something every game that I had not seen before, didn’t expect to see, and I just go, “Wow, I cannot believe I just saw that,” and then to have our position right at courtside, it just brings it right there, you can almost reach out and touch the players as they go by, and that’s a special place to be, and I never take that seat for granted. I know I’ll feel the same way, even more so, because everywhere I look, there’ll be this All-Star, and that great scorer, and this great rebounder, and defensive player, and this guy who is maybe be the fastest player in the league. And I can just see all these players knowing that they’re one of a kind, the guys that are there on each roster, there’s no one better, and that’s kind of a special feeling to have — you’re seeing greatness in every dribble, and in every pass, and in every shot. It going to be something just really, really special, and the fan in me may be more excited than the broadcaster, to be quite honest.

You mentioned a little earlier that you’ve done this for so long, you’ve had so many great experiences, that there aren’t a lot of new things, and this is one of the newer things for you. Is there anything else on that broadcaster bucket list that you’d like to cross off sometime in the next however many years?

I’m always thankful and never needy or jealous. I assume nothing in this business or in any of the sports I do — NFL or NBA, college basketball and the NCAA Tournament. I never assume anything, and I’m always thankful for everything. I don’t really have any wants, I just have a great appreciation for my good luck, my good fortune. I don’t look with envy at what another person is doing, or what I’m not doing. I assume nothing, and I am thankful for everything. When I’m in interviews like this with you, or sitting as I was a couple days ago in Los Angeles with that headset on and doing the Super Bowl, I always take a moment and say, “You know, would your 15-year-old self ever believe where this business has taken you? How lucky you’ve been? How fortunate, with every broadcast, you are to get to do what you dreamt of as a 9, 10, 11-year-old kid?” When I got to be in high school and started doing it kind of professionally when I was 14, 15 years old, my dreams were big but my reality was that probably won’t happen. And then here I am, broadcasting an NBA All-Star Game to a national audience, or here I am broadcasting a Super Bowl to a worldwide audience.

In your wildest dreams, I never could have thought something like that would have ever happened. You hope, you wish, but the reality is it probably won’t. And so anything that comes along my path, and I get a chance to do in a business that I love, I just feel really, really appreciative and real thankful. I’ll be like anybody else that has a chance at a first-time whatever in their life — doing this All-Star Game will be a thrill that I probably won’t be able to verbalize all that well. But in my heart and my mind, I’ll know exactly how lucky I am.