Walt “Clyde” Frazier: Vocab and Wordplay Win Basketball Broadcasts

I talked a bit on here about sports broadcasters and some of their inane commentary. I think it’s high time I discussed some positives from the sports broadcast world. Or, in this case, one positive: Walt Clyde Frazier.

Frazier is the New York Knicks’ color commentator, and his broadcasts are unlike any other. Instead of using tired clichés and phrases, Clyde talks to the beat of his own vocabulary and style. If you don’t believe me, check out this listener-compiled dictionary of Clyde’s frequently used words and phrases. Or, better yet, listen to him in just one 30 second clip and understand:

The reason Frazier is better than your announcer is because of his unique style. As you can tell by perusing that dictionary, Frazier uses bodacious words that are way up there on the reading level scale. It’s refreshing to hear him call Knicks rookie guard Landry Fields a “neophyte” and Fields’ dunk “provocative,” as opposed to what a normal broadcaster would say (probably something like “youngster” and “amazing.”). And that’s not just one play here and there, that’s Clyde’s actual vocabulary. The entire game, words like Lilliputian, stagnant, and omnipotent are thrown around like it’s an SAT class. And we haven’t even gotten to the rhyming yet.

Yes, the rhyming. Scroll a little further down on that dictionary page, and there’s a rhyme phrase log as well. This portion of Clyde’s game has even inspired a T-shirt . There are a large number of these little rhyming phrases, more than those that are listed anywhere, and you can even hear a hint of a rhyme in that clip I posted above.

It might be fair to label these rhymes a gimmick, but frankly I don’t care. They’re just downright entertaining. You never know when he’s going to pull one out to describe a play. If something has to be labeled a gimmick in order for it to be hilarious and break free from the same tired commentary everywhere else, so be it.

Basically, what I’m trying to say here is, please find any way you can to listen to Knicks broadcasts on MSG with Clyde. Either that or cross your fingers until he’s hired away to your team (But I recommend the former).

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