Voice of the Mavericks expects return to playoffs

Posted Monday, Sep. 23, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Chuck Cooperstein enters his ninth season as the radio play-by-play voice of the Dallas Mavericks this season.

Cooperstein was known primarily for his work in college football and basketball before taking a job with the Mavericks. He’s been a play-by-play voice for Dial Global since 1991, serves as fill-in host on ESPN Dallas radio and formerly worked at KTCK The Ticket.

Cooperstein, who recently participated in the Fort Worth Chamber Sports Speaker Series, described what Mavericks fans should expect to see this season from the team, including a return to the playoffs.

“Significant decrease in turnovers with the presence of Jose Calderon. Dirk [Nowitzki] playing at an All-Star level, which is actually probably No. 1, and a return to the playoffs,” Cooperstein said. “Most people don’t realize they were a 50-win caliber team over the last 50 games of last year and they’ve gotten better. They have better personnel and there’s no reason to think that Rick Carlisle can’t solve the riddle of who plays well together and what works.”

The Mavericks open training camp next week.

What’s it like beginning your ninth season with the team?

“Greatest job in world. I get to go to the game and more often than not, my team wins. Life is really phenomenal. I get to see America and someone’s paying for it. It really is a great thing and I’m one of 30 in the whole world doing what I’m doing.”

How was the transition to the NBA and the Mavericks?

“It was harder than I thought. I thought basketball was basketball, the basket is 10-feet high, the court is 94-feet long and 50-feet wide, but the game is totally different. The NBA game is a fast game with the 24-second clock and then there’s the mechanics of timeouts. I will never forget my first preseason game and they called a timeout. I do my thing and think ‘that’s really good’ and we’re about 15 seconds late coming back. When they say you’ve got a hundred seconds, you’ve got a hundred seconds. It took me really about a half a season to get it right.”

Were you surprised to get this opportunity at that point of your career and did you pursue the job?

“No, it was one of those deals where Matt Pinto had left and they were going to move Mark Followill to TV and I’m working at the radio station. Everyone knew I was a good basketball announcer and a good play-by-play guy so it was really a no-brainer. I did go to my boss at the time and said that if this happens, I’d like that job. Again, it was right place, right time and they didn’t have to go outside to get anyone.”

Al Michaels, Vin Scully, a host of broadcast announcers have had the opportunity to call down the final seconds or innings of a championship season or a stunning victory. Your call was that the Mavericks had ‘scaled the playoff mountain and planted their flag’ during the waning seconds of their run to the NBA title. Did you think about that prior to and what you might say? How did that come together?

“That started with Gary Bettman, who always says when he presents the Stanley Cup that it’s the hardest trophy in sports to win. Well, I thought about the hardest thing in sports to do and that’s climbing a mountain. You’re climbing to the summit in your sport. And what did Edmund Hillary do, he planted a British flag. I didn’t script it, but all those thoughts were going through my head. I’m just glad it came out right.”

Aside from the Mavericks’ title run, what are the top 3 moments you’ve had in your career?

“Well, there’s nothing like a title run, that’s in a world all its own. I actually did Peyton Manning’s final game at Tennessee and they got drilled by Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. I’ve done numerous NCAA tournament games, but the one at Auburn Hills in the regional final in 2000 between Iowa State and Michigan State may have been the most intense game I’ve ever been a part of. Both coaches probably should have been thrown out. One of them was after the game was decided. Michigan State was playing a quasi-home game at The Palace and there were 22,000 going crazy in there. It looked like they were going to lose and ended up rallying to win. It was an incredible scene. Everyone knew that game was the national title game as good as those teams were. I’ve never done a Final Four, but that was as close to doing one as I have been. It was a thrill last year to do an NFL game for the first time. I did a Jets-Dolphins game and I grew up a Jets fan. The game was in Miami and that was a big deal also because I’m an AFL guy. To me, it’s all cool. It’s really living your childhood or extending your childhood as much as you possibly can. Picking out moments is like picking out children. I don’t want to slight any of them.”

Let’s say Dirk has five good years of basketball left; can the Mavericks scale the mountain once again?

“If he’s got help. They’ve got to get him that help because at some point, he’s not going to average 20 [points] and eight [rebounds]. At some point, those numbers are going to go down, so who is that player, how do they find that player? If they can do that, sure, why not?

If you had the chance to step into Mark Cuban’s shoes as owner and really be involved in a management-type role for a year, what would you do differently as opposed to what he’s done?

The organization is incredibly successful. So at that point, who am I to say that they do this right or wrong? They make an awful lot of right decisions over there because they win a lot of games. I feel like with the lockout and Dirk getting hurt, that messed a lot of things up. If there is something they can do better, it’s draft better or work harder at the draft. They need to make certain there’s a ready supply of young players because in the salary cap world and under this collective bargaining agreement, young and cheap is really important. You never know where that next great player is going to come from, but it’s a lot easier if you develop it yourself as opposed to gathering assets and hoping that you can trade for a true superstar. That’s probably the one thing they could get better at because they’ve really had nothing in the last 10 years in the draft.

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