NBA

Michael Grady leaves Brooklyn for Minnesota as the new voice of the Timberwolves

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As Michael Grady takes his place in a room adjacent to the Minnesota Timberwolves practice grounds, the incessant dribbling of basketballs can be heard through the walls. On the other side, D’Angelo Russell, Jaden McDaniels, Naz Reid and a handful of wolves train late morning and unknowingly provide the soundtrack that has run through Grady’s life since he was born. was a boy growing up in Indiana. while Reggie Miller threw everything he had at Michael Jordan.

Indianapolis’ son is now the voice of Minneapolis. Bally Sports North hires Grady, most recently a member of the Brooklyn Nets broadcast team, as the Timberwolves’ new play-by-play man. Grady replaces longtime voice actor Dave Benz, whose contract was not renewed earlier this summer after 10 years out of Wolves games.

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Grady comes to Minnesota from Brooklyn, where he has spent the past five-plus years on the Nets’ highly respected YES network show as a sideline reporter, pre-game and post-game host and man. casual on a game-by-game basis. He steps into the top role at BSN at a pivotal time for the franchise. Wolves are coming off a revival season and made the biggest trade of the summer, a blockbuster that brought Rudy Gobert to Minnesota from Utah in a bid to turn Wolves into a Western Conference contender.

“I know the fan base already has a sense of excitement about what this team can be, and I’m thrilled to stoke that flame,” Grady said. Athleticism. “I am delighted to be part of this community. It means a lot to me.”

It’s the culmination of a long journey for Grady, who spent his youth rising through the ranks from radio show producer to host in the Pacers arena and ultimately a job with a television station in Indy which he has transformed into a coveted place. with the Nets broadcast team. Grady would call 10-12 games a season for the Nets while replacing Ian Eagle, one of the most respected voices in the game. The way he cultivated relationships with coaches and players and the way he prepared for the shows resonated with color analyst Sarah Kustok, who served as Grady’s reporter before she came aboard.

“There are few professionals who compare to Michael Grady in his versatility, in his work ethic, in the extent to which he devotes himself body and soul to his craft,” Kustok said.

It’s a bold move for Bally and the Timberwolves, picking a back-and-forth in favor of a more established voice. They cast a wide net for several months, including popular pre-game and post-game host Marney Gellner, who applied for the job but ultimately dropped her name from pre-interview consideration for the job because she wanted to maximize her time with her family, she said. Athleticism.

Picking Grady fits the vision that new minority Wolves owners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez – whose ties to the YES Network helped do their homework on Grady as Wolves waded through a mountain of resumes – attempted to instill since their arrival on board. They fostered a risk-taking philosophy, as evidenced by the hiring of Tim Connelly to run basketball operations and Gobert’s highly controversial trade. Bally and Wolves decided to leave Benz, a decision which was strongly pushed back by fans who had grown accustomed to the calling games of Benz and Jim Petersen.

“I know the fans were upset that Dave Benz didn’t make it, but that’s the best case scenario,” Petersen said. “Ian Eagle, Sarah Kustok, Richard Jefferson are some of the friendliest people in the league. They do an amazing job, and Michael Grady was on that team, which gives credibility to his intelligence, his knowledge of the NBA, and his talent as a broadcaster in this league.

Grady grew up in Indianapolis during the heyday of the Pacers, when Miller and Mark Jackson battled with Jordan’s Bulls and Patrick Ewing’s Knicks for Eastern Conference supremacy. Watching his Midwest team get overlooked and downsized in favor of bigger market teams instilled in him a challenge — a boldness, as he likes to say — that could serve him well here in Minnesota.

“You have the Lakers and Golden State and these big markets and these teams with players that are household names,” Grady said. “You mention that Minnesota is competing with them and some people might not take that seriously. But you must have the audacity to be able to face anyone. Being able to help fan the flame of what this franchise is building is something that I take very seriously and is truly passionate about.

Grady set his sights on a career in broadcasting when he watched Bob Costas call the Bulls’ victory over the Utah Jazz in the 1998 NBA Finals. He wanted to combine Costas’ institutional knowledge with the effervescent personality of Ahmad Rashad. He quit hoop during his freshman year at Warren Central High School so he could call football and basketball games on the school radio station, then studied broadcast journalism at the University of Vincennes. He joined WIBC at Indy as a producer and eventually began hosting a sports radio show while also serving as the arena host for Pacers games. His big break came in 2014, when a shorthanded TV station needed another body to cover the Pacers in the playoffs when the Indianapolis 500 was taking up so much bandwidth.

The Pacers won a seven-game series against Atlanta, beat Washington in the semifinals, then pushed LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals. The deep run gave Grady a chance to build a reel, which he turned into a contract to stay on staff.

In 2017, he got the call to move to New York, leaving his hometown to pursue his dream of becoming an established NBA voice. He struck up quick friendships with Eagle, Kustok, Jefferson and producer Frank DiGraci, endearing himself with a serious work ethic and genuine concern for the humanity behind it all.

“He may be a kid from Indianapolis and the Midwest, (but) he was born for the concrete jungle,” Kustok said. “Nothing fazed him. He was as cool and composed in every moment as you will find.

Grady called 10–12 games per season as a play-by-play man and also called WNBA games. Last season, he called Kyrie Irving’s 60-point game against Orlando, among other highlights of the season. Kustok, a highly touted color analyst, said calling games next to one of her closest friends helped fuel her fervor.

“He is so passionate and enthusiastic. It’s like sitting next to a small child and watching him open presents on Christmas morning,” Kustok said. “He doesn’t take a single moment for granted and he loves the game so much.

“He always made my job as easy as possible with everything he put into it.”

“I don’t think I’ve walked into a show without thinking about young Michael Grady when he was sitting six inches away from the television with his tube socks watching my favorite team’s every move,” Grady said. “I want to be awesome for that person.”

With Gobert, Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns and Russell, who knows Grady from their time together in Brooklyn, the Timberwolves have one of the most formidable rosters in the West. Benz was known for his “ant facts” thing that would come after most of Edwards’ signature pieces, but Grady said he was still working on tagline ideas with his family.

“I will be tested in terms of appeals. It’s going to be a lot of fun,” he said. “I am so thrilled to be able to be part of the family of this fan base. I take this very seriously.

Grady met his wife, Erica, in New York and also has a 17-year-old stepson, Tai. Family dynamics caused Grady to think long and hard before leaving New York. Ultimately, Bally and the Wolves’ pitch, including meetings with CEO Ethan Casson and COO Ryan Tanke, helped convince him to take the plunge.

“I’m so proud and happy for him,” Erica said as she sat next to Grady in the practice facility. “I’m here to testify to his hard work, dedication and passion for the game and his craft. As a human being, he deserves it, and Minnesota deserves you.

The family arrives in a community still grappling with the fallout from the riots following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. Grady participated in protests on the East Coast when Floyd was killed and said he plans to engage in the community as soon as he is settled.

“I want to be visible and I want to be part of a progress of hope,” he said. “If my position puts me in a place where I can initiate or participate in conversations, not necessarily on the air but in the community, and with not only people of my ethnic background but of other backgrounds and make the light on things and being a beacon is important to me.

Grady and her family have been on a rollercoaster of emotions over the past few weeks. They are thrilled with the opportunity he has earned, the chance to be the voice of a rising Western Conference team in a community that matches his Midwestern sensibilities. He’s worked for years to get an opportunity like this, and the elation that comes with it is easy to see in his smile as he tries to articulate what it means. But he is also speaking just two days after the funeral of his mother, Mavis Grady, who died after a five-year battle with cancer.

Mavis was Michael’s biggest fan. He recalled a story about his mother recently going to a dentist appointment in a building that used to be a Taco Bell where he worked in his youth. She told the receptionist that her son had worked in the building before and the receptionist asked if he was still working for Taco Bell. Mavis chuckled and quickly offered her son’s lengthy resume.

“What brings me joy, what makes me smile, is knowing how proud she was of me,” Grady said. “She was almost embarrassing in her love for me and how proud she was of everything I accomplished. She was my biggest cheerleader, my biggest fan, and seeing me play that role, I know that she is delighted.

Grady spoke at the funeral, telling the story of a “sweet, caring, gentle” woman who was also “tough, uncompromising and competitive”. He told the story of a time when he was in college and she challenged him to a game of HORSE.

“She whipped my ass that day,” Grady said. “That competitive edge that didn’t allow her to take it easy with her young son was there all her life and throughout a five-year battle with cancer.”

Mavis was already dead by the time Michael officially agreed to join BSN and the Timberwolves, but he knows such a strong and caring woman is still watching her son put it all together.

“She loved her family very much,” Grady said. “I cling to those happy memories, but I know she’s looking down extremely proud of that position her son was stepping into.”

(Top photo courtesy of Michael Grady)

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