Sports Media

Expanded role suits Marshall

By Nancy Marrapese-Burrell
Globe Staff / October 17, 2008
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It's difficult to believe a new Celtics season is practically upon us. It was exactly four months ago Boston was crowned NBA champion after a victory in Game 6 against the Lakers. Comcast SportsNet broadcaster Donny Marshall, who will be in the studio tonight for the Celtics' exhibition game against the Knicks at TD Banknorth Garden, said the offseason went by quickly.

"I was talking to Paul Pierce getting off the plane the other day and I said, 'How was your summer?' " said Marshall. "He said, 'It was short.' I said, 'But it was worth it, huh?' and he said, 'I'd like to have short summers the rest of my career if that meant championships.' "

Marshall will be a color analyst courtside with play-by-play man Mike Gorman on the road this season, and he will be the in-studio analyst with host Gary Tanguay during the pregame, halftime, and postgame broadcasts when the Celtics are at home. Tommy Heinsohn will be the color analyst with Gorman for home games.

Marshall likes the variety.

"I love being around the game," he said. "It's great to be able to be in a studio, seeing how it works, seeing the behind-the-scenes [aspect], and coming across on people's TV sets from the studio. I let my personality come out a little bit more. Also, being at the games, being right on the court, I get to see a lot of my old friends who I played against and played with.

"I'm around the team a lot, continuing to cultivate that relationship that I think teams have to have with their broadcast teams."

Marshall traveled quite a bit last season, taking the longer journeys while Heinsohn had the shorter trips. He said his schedule is a little more predictable now.

"On paper, my role has changed, but technically it's not much different than last year," said Marshall. "I'll probably do eight more games than last year. I have a more scheduled plan this year. I know in advance from the beginning of the season."

The 36-year-old Marshall, who played five seasons in the NBA, retiring in 2003, is comfortable with both Tanguay and Gorman, saying he has absorbed a great deal of knowledge from both.

"I don't want to say it's [a blend between] the old and the new," said Marshall. "But you have veterans like Gary Tanguay in the studio and a veteran like Mike Gorman at the games on the road who I can learn from, that I can feed off, but at the same time I can give them modern-day experience from not being out of the league that long and still being a part of the game. I pay attention. I do my homework. I've learned so much from [Tanguay], it's been invaluable."

Marshall said he has had no problems making the transition from player to broadcaster. He said as close as he is to the day-to-day workings of the team, he can't be as close as he would be as a player.

"The only area for me where I had to distance myself was when we would get to a city and Ray Allen would call me to go eat dinner with a couple of the guys," said Marshall. "Ray and I have known each other for a long time. I met him when he was 16 [on a recruiting trip to the University of Connecticut]. We have a lot of things in common. That was the most difficult thing, saying I was media and he was player and he should have his own identity with his teammates. As far as on the air, though, not at all."

'Buzz' word

NESN will broadcast the Bruins' home opener Monday night against the Penguins from the Garden. Game time is 7 p.m. "The Buzz," a top-10 countdown of all things Bruin, will debut tomorrow at 6 p.m. Since there will be a Game 6 of the American League Championship Series, "The Buzz" will be on at 5 followed by Sox pregame at 5:30 and Bruins pregame at 6:30. The show has a new look and host (Naoko Funayama) . . . NESN will air the Harvard-Lehigh football game tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. . . . Former NBA point guard and coach Avery Johnson will be a studio analyst for ESPN, mainly with host Stuart Scott and analyst Bill Walton on "NBA Shootaround." He will also contribute to ABC's "NBA Countdown." Johnson, who was the NBA Coach of the Year in 2006 with the Dallas Mavericks, played 16 years in the NBA, winning a championship with the San Antonio Spurs in 1999 . . . A new edition of "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" will air Tuesday at 10 p.m. on HBO. Segments include those on sports surgeon James Andrews, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, and the issue of performance-enhancing drugs in horse racing.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at

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