WASHINGTON — Kevin Harlan spent his Sunday in Houston announcing Super Bowl LI for Westwood One, and after narrating history, flew to Washington, D.C. to call a game between the Wizards and Cavaliers for TNT.
That game, Harlan says, “may have been the best regular season game I’ve ever seen.”
“It was a fun couple games to do back to back,” Harlan told Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier on 106.7 The Fan. “Unexpected, really, both [games]. I wasn’t sure how the Super Bowl was gonna go. It was a close game I know in terms of what Vegas thought.”
“And then last night, you have no idea what you’re gonna get mid-season,” he said. “But I’ve been broadcasting the NBA for about 29, 30 years, and that may have been the best regular season game I’ve ever seen. So I feel pretty blessed to have two good games like that back-to-back.”
The Wizards nearly stunned the defending champion Cavs in front of a national audience, taking them to the wire and beyond before ultimately falling 140-135 in overtime. LeBron James nearly blew the game, and in a matter of seconds redeemed himself with a miracle game-tying three-pointer to push it into OT.
The Wizards proved, if nothing else, they belong in the same breath as the NBA’s top teams, that their 14 wins over their previous 16 games — and 17 straight home wins — were no fluke. That they are capable of competing with the best in the league.
“I love the team. I think Scott [Brooks] has done a wonderful job and he’s cultivated a real bond among the players,” Harlan said. “I love the guards. I just love those two kids and I could watch them endlessly. [John] Wall is so gifted and [Bradley] Beal is just terrific.”
“They’ve got guys that are playing roles,” he said. “[Markieff] Morris plays his role well and he’s got grit, and [Marcin] Gortat’s got the same and he’s got some reach and he’s fearless around the rim.”
“You know, they’re just kind of working on that bench and trying to get that thing up and running,” Harlan said. “And what team isn’t? I mean the bench is difficult in the days of the salary cap, and big-name players needing to play big-time minutes.”
“You get deeper in the season, those minutes become more valuable, but rest becomes valuable too, and there’s no doubt that they’re going to have to rest those two terrific guards,” he said.
“And it’s a guard-oriented, wing-spacing, shooting league,” he said. “So they fit everything that you want in a team to make a move. Now they’ve been like empowered by this move up. They’ve had this great dominance at home.
“And let’s face it, they’re playing the defending champions last night and LeBron played well, and Love played out of his mind. I mean they played a hell of a game. Cleveland gave you every drop they had and it still was as close as it was, so if I’m a Wizards fan this morning, I’m feeling great about my team.”
“I love the direction,” he said. “I want to continue to see that bench build minutes and confidence to give those starters some rest, because all these great players play a lot of minutes, and then you get that lost month, you’ve got to be able to refill the tank, and that may be one of the questions, among many, that all these teams have got to answer for their great players. And the Wizards are no different.”