ESPN NBA play-by-play voice Ryan Ruocco has what is sure to be a busy – but memorable – week ahead. Ruocco has double-duty, calling both tonight’s Houston Rockets-Minnesota Timberwolves telecast (10 ET) from Mexico City – ESPN’s first NBA regular-season game in Mexico – followed by Friday’s San Antonio Spurs-Los Angeles Lakers telecast (10 p.m., ESPN) from L.A.
Ruocco will keep some pretty special company during his dual-country, NBA journey this week with legendary analysts. He’ll be joined in the booth by NBA Countdown’s Doug Collins in Mexico City, then he’ll reunite with Hubie Brown for Friday’s telecast.
Front Row caught up with Ruocco on the eve of his big week.
You have a rare opportunity to call two games this week, each with a different NBA legend. How will you approach getting the best out of both?
First of all this is one of the key reasons my job is so fun – getting to work with incredible basketball minds like Doug and Hubie. I learn so much from men like these two guys. I know I can go to Hubie and Doug with strategy questions at any time for any situation.
That’s an incredible luxury for a play-by-play guy. I’ve worked with Hubie several times – which I’ve absolutely loved – so I have a pretty good idea of his rhythm doing a game as does he with me. I feel like I’ve gotten some of the best applicable quotes about life I’ve ever heard from Hubie. I’ve never done a game with Doug, but I’ve gotten to know him a little bit and I’ve really enjoyed speaking with him. Doug’s passion for the game is infectious.
How do you and our production team plan to tell the game story tonight, relative to the unique setting of Mexico City?
I think we may give the audience a peak into what the Spanish-speaking telecast sounds like as they are watching ours. Also, we’ll definitely spend some time on the importance and relevance of why the NBA takes its game global. Plus, we have some pretty cool numbers/charts about just how international this league has become.
For the NBA on ESPN viewer, what are a couple of things to keep an eye on this week?
For Rockets-TimberWolves, first and foremost, does Houston look like a legit title contender? They’re undefeated when [Rockets center] Dwight [Howard] has played this year.
For Minnesota, [rookie forward] Andrew Wiggins is a guy you have to watch – one of the most highly-touted high school prospects we had ever seen a couple years ago and the No. 1 overall pick.
As for the Spurs-Lakers game, [Spurs forward] Kawhi Leonard is coming off a monster game versus the [Los Angeles] Clippers after starting slow because of pinkeye and I think people want to see can if he leap into the top tier of superstars this year. . . And, even if the Lakers are struggling, [guard] Kobe Bryant is so worth watching.