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Versatile Jon Barry debuts as new NBA on ESPN Radio analyst

ESPN Radio commentators Jon Barry and Kevin Calabro. (David Alvarez / ESPN Images)
NBA on ESPN Radio commentators Jon Barry (left) and Kevin Calabro.
(David Alvarez / ESPN Images)

Jon Barry played 14 years in the NBA, so he knows how to adapt.

This season, the eight-year veteran ESPN television analyst brings his expertise to the NBA on ESPN Radio broadcasts for the first time. During Tuesday night’s Chicago at Miami regular-season opener, Barry debuted as radio broadcast partner of Kevin Calabro. He will work more than 40 regular-season and playoff games on ESPN Radio and continue to provide studio and game analysis on ESPN television. Front Row caught up with the longtime broadcaster and son of Basketball Hall Of Famer Rick Barry to talk about his new radio role.

Dr. Jack Ramsay worked NBA games on ESPN Radio for the last 18 years before retiring last season. What’s it like to follow a legend?
I have about one-one millionth of the stories Dr. Jack has about the NBA. He will be sorely missed. When we traveled to the same games in the past, I always hoped I’d sit next to him on the plane. I was so excited to listen to his incredible stories and share his passion for the game. I’m not trying to be Dr. Jack, an impossibility. I just want to do the best job I can.

Jon Barry (David Alvarez / ESPN Images)
Jon Barry
(David Alvarez / ESPN Images)

How easy was it to mesh with your new broadcast partner Kevin Calabro?
I’ve known Kevin for quite a while. He was the voice of the [Seattle] SuperSonics when my brother [Brent Barry] played there. I’ve also worked with him a couple of times in the past. Since we are friends, there is a comfort level already established. He is an incredible voice, very powerful and smooth. We worked a practice game in Chicago last week and we gelled right away.

Radio is more play-by-play focused since the commentators are the eyes of the listener. How did you work in anecdotes and analysis?
In radio, you really have to be concise and make a point quickly since we can’t miss any action. During timeouts and other stoppages, there was more time than I anticipated to talk about the NBA and have a conversation.

As the season progresses, your schedule will become more and more hectic. How do you decompress?
If time permits, a round of golf does the trick. Kevin and I played the day before the opener. We spent the time talking hoops, though.

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