As a result of the Coronavirus causing the cancelation of sports as we knew it, sports media has resorted to telling the stories of the athletes we loved watching work their magic in their respective sports. Back Sports Page has taken this action a step further and spoke with a guy who has articulated those athletic feats to fans around the world, Denver Nuggets’ Play-by-Play Announcer Jason “Koz” Kosmicki.
Kosmicki has been an employee within the Kroenke Sports & Entertainment’s radio department for 26 years, he began calling road games for the Nuggets in 2008, and became the full-time play-by-play announcer two years later. Since then he has announced 1,750 consecutive Nuggets regular-season broadcasts; a feat that was accomplished during Denver’s matchup against the Minnesota Timberwolves on March 12. 2019. He also is the executive producer of radio and oversees all of the radio broadcasts at KSE. Kosmicki also produces regular Denver Nuggets podcasts.
“The key word there is consecutive, because there are people who have done more than me,” reflected Kosmicki when asked about the streak. “Somewhere down the line you think you’d get sick or there would be a wedding or a situation would pop up, but luckily for me nothing of that nature interfered with my work. Also, to me broadcasting is fun. There’s a few bad days in there, but it’s a blast. Why would you not want to do it? It’s a dream gig and I understand that and appreciate it. All I have to do is sit there and watch a basketball game and get paid. Even when you are bad it’s fun, and when you think you are going to have a bad day you have to check yourself a little bit. You have to ask yourself would you rather do this or some other job you might not like.
While it is plausible that Kosmicki’s love for broadcasting could have originated from his love of sports growing up. He did end up playing football, basketball, and golf in high school. The moment that Kosmicki realized it was a possibility for him to pursue broadcasting as a career was when he attended a Kansas City Royal game with his father and asked: Who are the people on the field talking into microphones?
“I started working at the radio station in my hometown when I was 15,” recalled Kosmicki. “ I was reading reports, the news, and railroad schedules for the local workers. When I went to college I realized I was better than everyone else because I had a three year jump on them. This prompted me to apply for the Sports Director of the campus radio station and I got it. This job was fun and I got great experience covering play-by-play action for just about any sport imaginable including: football, basketball, baseball, wrestling, volleyball, softball, swimming and even the Sigma Tau Gamma fight night (boxing). It was a great experience and after that I just kept on plugging away”
Kosmicki clearly had racked up an impressive amount of experience points as a broadcaster well before he landed the Nuggets play-by-play job. Even Though this is true, he points out that he had a secret ingredient that played a role in him landing his dream job; that ingredient was luck. But there is not enough luck in the world that can sustain a 1,750 consecutive game run. Kosmicki had just enough of the elusive “it” factor to sustain his incredible run.
“After ESPN launched their television network in 1983, this saturated the market for broadcasters because everybody and their brother wanted to be the next Dan Patrick and Chris Burman, which made it a hard field to get into,” said Kosmicki. “So I got out of radio for a little bit and did sales for work. Then a buddy of mine was getting married and asked me to stand as a groomsman. Odds would have it at the time the Vice President of broadcasting for the Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche was his best man. We hung out together, sipped some whisky together and the VP of broadcasting told me to give him a call because he has a part time job doing radio for the Nuggets. I tell this story to say that there will be people in your lifetime that will open doors for you, but you have to have enough talent in order to keep the job.”
For a lot of sports fans, besides actually playing in the game, sports broadcasting is the definition of a dream job. What happens when the team isn’t good and everytime you go to work your team is losing? The nature of sports can be emotionally draining because you are going through the trials and tribulations of winning and losing. There were moments in Kosmicki’s career the Nuggets were not a good team, and they struggled through 11-71 and 17-65 seasons. His solution is to find a way to separate your job from your fandom.
“At the end of the day just because they are bad doesn’t mean you get to slack off on your preparation,” Kosmicki added. “This job can get emotionally draining, but you can manage that with staying consistent with being balanced. Whether your team is winning 11 games or 50, prepare the same way and do the exact same routine no matter the possible outcome of the game. As long as you are honest with your audience, whether it be good or bad, I think that will establish credibility for you.”
During this interview an interesting topic came up, and that was referees. It is pretty well known that the nba players and the referees don’t always see eye to eye and they often bump heads. However, there is little to no news about the referees and broadcasters engaging in verbal warfare. This begs the question: Do broadcasters and referees have altercations or do they not talk to each other?
“I’m not as hard on the officials as I once was but I’m still pretty bad,” laughed Kosmicki. “I kick myself about it sometimes because people hate it when you are constantly dogging on the referees, because it makes you sound like a baby. I’m trying to stop doing it, but to be honest the refereeing is so bad. Just tell us what you [referees] see. Everybody has to be held accountable, and if you suck I’m going to tell them and I’m going to tell the fans that you are terrible. I actually have a formula on how we can fix this. The first thing the NBA needs to do is mic the referees up because they lie. Also 90% of technical fouls are a result of a blown call and whenever someone gets a tech it’s a $2,500 fine. So when they [the NBA] go back and review that call and realize the referee blew the call, why don’t they resend the technical and give the guy his money back. If the referee never blew the call that doesn’t happen.”
Clearly this is a hot topic for Nuggets’ play-by-play man Kosmicki, but don’t mistake his comment as him saying he hates the referees. He acknowledges that it is a tough job and he wants you to put yourself in their shoes and imagine 20 players and eight coaches complaining and yelling at you all night long; and we still haven’t talked about the fans role in producing this chaotic environment for the referees.
Before this interview came to an end, Back Sports Page asked Kosmicki to give some advice for the next generation of broadcasters.
“The number one piece of advice I can give is to be who you are and don’t try to be someone else,” replied Kossmicki. If you try to be someone else and you do get the job, now you gotta spend the rest of your life trying to remember who you are supposed to be instead of who you are. If you are true to yourself and you finally do get your big break, you can navigate through life a little bit more honestly and smoothly.”
Jason Kosmicki has accomplished what many people aspire to do in their lifetime, and that is to work your dream job. He acknowledges this accomplishment by stating that, “there are only thirty of these jobs in the world and I am grateful to occupy one of those spots.” Like many fans, Kosmicki can’t wait for basketball to return.