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After 30 years, Jim Spanarkel’s days as Nets analyst are over

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DePaul vs Seton Hall Photo by Porter Binks/Getty Images

For Nets fans, young and old, the 2020-21 season can’t come fast enough, but there will be a void ... and it’s a big one.

Confirming a New York Post report, a YES Network spokesperson tells NetsDaily that after 30 years as a Nets broadcaster, Jim Spanarkel will not return to the YES broadcast team this coming season.

Spanarkel’s visibility at the network has been quietly reduced in recent years. Last season, Spanarkel, 63, moved from the sidelines to the studio. Before that, Spanarkel’s game workload had dropped off in recent years with the Nets bringing on first Sarah Kustok then last year Richard Jefferson.

Spanarkel had paired with Ian Eagle on Nets broadcasts for more than two decades. Eagle often referred Spanarkel as “the Senator,” noting how he looked like a “third term U.S. Senator” with his white hair and gentleman’s bearing.

Phil Mushnick, who broke the story Thursday night, described Spanarkel’s style this way...

Even during the Nets’ most meager times, Spanarkel could sustain interest by seeing and speaking sensible, applicable basketball. He left us with at least one good lesson a game.

For example, not all long rebounds are the result of not boxing out near the basket — the easy, common take — but by everyone blocking out, thus by good basketball.

He didn’t shout, he didn’t make up nicknames or try to draw attention to himself with neo-hip expressions. His substance was his style. He was the guy who surpassed the lucky ticket test — the one you were grateful to be seated beside at a game.

Back in May, during the height of the pandemic, Spanarkel appeared from home on YES’s “YES, We’re Here” programming. He recalled his transition from athlete to broadcaster...

Last season marked Spanarkel’s 30th year as a Nets television analyst, and he had also handled commentary on Nets radio broadcasts from 1987 to 1994. Spanarkel won three New York Emmys at YES, including one for Best Sports Analyst in 2014. He also earned individual New York Emmy Award nominations in 2010, 2011, 2018 and 2019 for his Nets analysis on YES.

He and Eagle had been the on-air foundation stone of the YES Network’s Nets coverage, now regarded as the best among the NBA’s local TV broadcasts. Their chemistry was highly regarded not just by Nets fans, but by television executives around the league. For example, the two handled the NBA’s world feed of the 2013 NBA Finals.

As this clip from the Nets trip to London in 2014 showed, the two could handle everything from a pick-and-roll to British slang...

Chris Shearn, who often shared studio space with Spanarkel last season, responded to this story in a tweet.

“Jim is not only good at what he does he is a great human being,” Shearn wrote. “I will miss learning from him during games and our talks about life. He was a student of the game at a very high level and he will be missed in the studio.”

There’s no word if Spanarkel will continue his other high profile gig, broadcasting NCAA regular season games as well as March Madness.

Spanarkel earned All-American honors at Duke in 1979 and Academic All-American honors in 1978 and 1979. He was Duke’s team MVP his final three seasons. In 1977-79, he was team captain as a junior and senior, and was named NCAA East Regional Most Outstanding Player in 1978. He also played two seasons for the Duke baseball team. He graduated from Duke in 1979.

The Philadelphia 76ers selected Spanarkel with the 16th overall pick in the 1979 NBA Draft, and after playing for the 76ers during the 1979-80 campaign, he played the next four seasons with the Dallas Mavericks. He led Dallas in scoring during the 1980-81 season.

Spanarkel’s departure comes after two production veterans of the YES Yankees coverage, Bill Boland and John Moore, were also let go. YES Network, like other sports-related properties, has been hit hard by COVID-19.