Beau Estes is an anchor for Turner Sports and the person behind the rhymes, hosting the NBA Top 10 and the daily morning podcast called Fast Break. Beau Estes talks to us about his most memorable moments in sportscasting, his new venture with NBL Australia and gives us insight into how social media is changing the face of sportscasting. From challenges to triumphs, Beau Estes brings home the highlights. He takes us through a typical day in the life of a sportscaster, and shares with us the advice he would give himself if he could go back in time and meet with his 15-year-old self. Beau is someone I wake up listening to each and every day. In fact, if you are an NBA fan, you likely hear his voice regularly. You likely know the voice. The person – less known. Beau Estes is incredible. Here’s the proof.
Please note: The interview with Beau Estes was conducted via a phone conversation and transcribed. Editing changes were made to make it easier to read while maintaining the voice of the interview.
Tell us about your role with Turner Sports.
Okay. So obviously, people know me best for the top tens’ more than anything and my main job is to cover the NBA for Turner sports. I do the highlights most nights for nba.com, and that includes the top 10 and other projects called the fast break, which is sort of like a daily morning podcast. The heads up play of the day, which is more of an analysis piece, but I also cover the NCAA for Turner sports. I’ve done the highlights and been the in-arena announcer for those highlights for years. So I do that. I’ve done PGA for several years. We just have so many different properties that we have at Turner sports. So at least at Turner sports, that’s my role. And in addition to that, I’m a host on NBA TV in the afternoons for updates. I host the commissioner’s news conferences from time to time. So all of that stuff is basically what my job is at Turner sports.
What does a typical day look like for you then?
Okay, so obviously it’s not just the announcing. So I basically scour through stories on the days that I’m working in on the days that I’m not working to keep up with the league. Again, for instance, tonight our shift is split because of the number of games, so I’m the late games. So I will handle the highlights and the late games.
I also handle the Fast Break, and the nba.com Top 10. What that means is for the Fast Break, I’ll have to be involved a little earlier in the evening. I’ll give a review of every single game that we have out there. So that starts when the first game ends, then when all the games end is usually when the top 10 comes in, when the last highlights come in and, and my day usually doesn’t end. Say the late game is 10:30 PM Eastern time. My day doesn’t end until 2:00 to 2:30 in the morning. It makes it a weird sleeping schedule.
Then just as an added detail, my wife’s a producer at CNN, so she wakes up in the morning, she’s off to work and she’s in bed, 10:00, 11:00 at night and I’m not in bed till 3:00 in the morning. So we’re two ships passing in the night. That’s the way it works. There are several couples that work in media that have that sort of.
Speaking of the NBA Top 10 videos, did you come up with the rhyming concepts, is that all you?
Yes, it’s definitely all me. There was this one reviewer who was a literary critic actually, who says that he thinks that I have a condition called claiming, which means that in my day to day life, if I want to, I can speak in rhyme and it’s not necessarily a gift, it’s more a curse. But yes, that’s all me. The things developed over time. Honestly. It was one of those things where I guess it just got more and more feedback and more and more results and the numbers for the top 10 honestly are through the roof. It gets so many more views than anything else we do. So if you’re working on that with that in mind, you put more into it. So as it’s developed, I’ve put more into it. The rhyming itself is all me. We have several announcers, Ro Paris, he’s one of our announcers. Matt Dagostino is one of our announcers. None of those guys go for that. They shouldn’t, they should do their own thing. When you hear the rhyming, whether you like it or not, you can blame me or you can credit me either way, you like it.
Are they spur of the moment, free styled off the top of your head? Or are they pre-written or how does the rhyming work for each place?
If you go back and look at the pre-season stuff of this year, I didn’t write a single thing. Now it all rhymes, but I didn’t write a single thing that’s just all off the top of my head. Some of this stuff will be sort of like a line I want to get to and I’ll definitely have it written down or I’ll have it noted somewhere.
Most of them aren’t all written. It’s sort of half and half. If you can imagine, I’ll think in my mind I want to get to this, but then the play is 15 seconds and I may have a line that’s five seconds, so I have to come up with the other 10 seconds on my own. But at this point, it’s like any other job that anybody out there that’s listening to this podcast has. Once you’ve done it for a long time, you have confidence in your ability to bring it home, and that’s where I with the top 10. So I just feel ultimately confident that you can throw it in front of me and I can do it and I’ll add this.
There are people that are editors and producers at Turner that will tell you the best things that we ever do are the stuff that the fans at home will never see. It’s just me off the cuff, having way too much fun for broadcast with it. But, we go through and do some stuff like that occasionally, and it’s a blast. But what it does is it just, like I said, it’s just any other job in the world that anybody has that they take some pride in and then they work at.
Once you get to that level of confidence, then look you know you’re going to bring it home. When I hop on the mic, it’s one of those things, I have supreme confidence that I’m going to bring it home. And whether everybody likes it or not, I can’t say. But what I can say is I know that I’m going to do it and I’m going to do it in that particular style and it’s going to be to the best of my ability.
Do you have a favorite player to rhyme with or a memorable one that sticks out in your head?
Probably Ian Mahinmi was my early favorite! I promise this one was not planned. It came to me completely off the cuff initially.
Mama say mama sa mamakusa.From Michael Jackson’s classic hit Wanna Be Starting Somethin’
It was going off Michael Jackson song “Want to be starting something.” It just hit me at the moment and it hit and everybody loved it.
So, from then on, it was, “Ian mama say mama ya-hee-mee” in every highlight I could get it into [laughs]. Unfortunately, Ian is not in as many Top 10s as I’d like him to be in. But it is an enthusiastic reaction to that when he is in, no doubt! Half of them are just as absolutely ridiculous like that [laughs]. So when I say it, half the time at the moment, I think to myself, “is it too much?”
Those that I actually asked that to myself are usually the ones that are most popular. It’s funny how that works.
Also, relating to the Raptors in Toronto, there was one a couple of weeks ago about Serge Ibaka and Buddy Hield. I remember it because you rhymed Hield with the word yield and then you had Serge with the urge to merge.
I remember that! I had an interesting reaction that. A writer for the Literary Review, which is a well-respected magazine reviews my silly Top 10s, which was amazing. But the one that he quoted is when you guys had DeMar DeRozan and I think I said DeMarvelous DeRozan leaves the defence frozen or something like that. And that one was off the cuff too.
I had been saying marvels along with DeRozan for a while and then I think just leaves the defence frozen came out. That was a lot of fun. I’ve said so many silly ones for Toronto. Toronto has so many good names on the squad that you roll on forever. Now they’re such a successful franchise and an integral part of the league, you end up seeing more and more.
So, I was scrolling through your Twitter timeline and noticed you post a lot about the NBL in Australia. Are you just a fan or do you have an association with them?
So, the NBL is the professional basketball league in Australia and New Zealand. They have hired me and I do their Top 10s as well. So the top ten’s that I’ve done for the NBA are now, you can see it in that same style for the NBL. I do those once a week. In fact, when I hang up the phone with you guys, I will be onto that project.
The NBL is my next project and it’s been an absolutely wonderful experience. Honestly, the people that work with the NBL are tremendously professional.
They’re also really creative, intelligent, and there’s a passion for that league. It’s a different thing than working with the NBA because the NBA is the biggest thing in the world. It’s the biggest, the best players, the most talent and everything like that. So you get these unbelievable highlights, but there’s this passion with the smaller, newer growing league with the NBL. It’s a different experience, but it’s so much fun. So the NBL is in my portfolio now it’s a job that I have and I’m very committed to working with them as well and it’s just been a really fun experience.
In regards to social media again, you are very responsive on social media. You basically met with me within a couple of hours, I thank you for that. But how vital is social media to your job specifically when it comes to basketball?
It’s interesting because it’s new and we’re all learning our way and I guess it’s not so much new anymore, that would’ve been a better answer in 2015 but I think it’s vital. I think it’s very important to get the message out there. I’ll give you an idea of how important social media is. I worked at Turner sports, this is my 26th season.
I’m covering the NBA in some way or form for them and the production element. I’m talking about people that are production assistants, the associate producer, producers, graphics. That has always been the main group that gets hired.
Social media started years ago as a small entity, it felt like they were in a closet. This group is booming. They are more and more people getting hired day after day. They are putting more emphasis on it. So social media as an organization at Turner sports is really growing. And for me it’s important. I think especially if somebody wants to say something nice or bad about the highlights I do, if they take the time to reach out to me, I should take the time to reach out to them.
And I can’t probably respond to every single person because there’s a lot of them, but I respond to as many as I possibly can. I try to be thoughtful, try to be friendly, and answer the questions as directly as I can.
Some stuff, obviously you can’t answer, some stuff, you obviously can, but you have to be responsible. You have to balance it with your responsibility to the company that pays for you. I just think it’s great.
The other thing I’ll tell you is absolute truth. When I was five years old, I told my parents I wanted to be a sportscaster. I was a little kid that loves the NBA. I am now basically the voice of the NBA online. So my dreams have come true in an amazing and direct way as you can possibly imagine. I absolutely had it come through for me.
So, to now get a message from a young person in the Philippines or in Germany or in Africa somewhere, and they’re talking to me about what I do and the reach that we have. I mean, I can’t tell you how overwhelming that is and how unbelievable it is for a kid that just loved the NBA growing up in Southern California than Charlotte, North Carolina, then Atlanta, Georgia. To see this happen, it’s beyond anything I could’ve ever hoped for.
What do you think is the most memorable moment of your career thus far?
Oh wow. That’s a great question. So I think the honest to God answer to this is I was 28-29 years old and I got the call that I got the job to be on national television hosting Atlanta Braves baseball on TBS.
Now, look, it’s not my favorite sport, but I will never forget that moment when I got the call. The call came from the guy who created inside the NBA, this wonderful mentor for me, and I was sitting in my backyard. I got the call on my cell phone. He was like, bro, are you there? Yes. Can you talk for a second? Yes. I just want to tell you, you did wonderful in the audition, we’re going to hire you to do this job. And I just, I remember leaning over my car and I was just flabbergasted. I couldn’t believe it.
And then from there I sort of navigated over to the NBA and got very, very specifically where I wanted to be in life., Very specifically where I wanted to be in life. So as far as just like something that I’ll never forget, it’s that. I have been on top of a mountain with the Jamaican bobsledders at the Nagano Olympics.
I’ve had so many incredible things happen to me, it’s just beyond your wildest dreams. But that’s sort of where it all started. That’s where the door really went crashing down from me and that’s where the opportunities started flowing, so I’ll never forget it.
What do you think is the most challenging part of your career or your current job right now?
There’s a lot that’s challenging. I think the biggest challenge for me is to keep it fresh and to keep trying new things. The Top 10 is what it is. I want to do different stuff. I would love to be more involved with a podcast of mine. We’re working on elements of that now. We’re trying to make that happen. I’d like to have a different thing. You can imagine, the top 10 for me is one aspect of what I do. I’d like to just create so much more and to have the freedom to create. I do have quite a bit of freedom, but I just want to do more and more and more. A podcast I think is what’s next. I think I can get an NBA related podcast and guests I’d like to have on it. I think I’d be very happy going down that road as well.
If you could pick a superpower, what would it be and why?
If I had a time machine, is that a superpower? If I had a time machine I could go back and really the thing is you know stuff now that you didn’t know when you were younger. You know how to play stuff. You know how to do stuff and I wouldn’t change a thing, but I wish I had the experience then that I have now. So to help make some decisions. Obviously superpower is brains, invisibility, all that stuff, would be great, but I think
I’d love to be able to travel through time and to advise myself on things that were going on and on top of that also again just the idea that all this has happened to me.
There’s no way that 15-year-old Beau Estes would have ever bought this. There’s no way I would’ve believed all this would’ve happened to me, so to tell myself, keep believing, keep doing it, and it’ll work out. I would love that. That would be fantastic obviously.
Phil’s Final Thoughts
After chatting with Beau Estes, he makes it clear that he loves the ability to bring his rhyming style to the forefront of the basketball world through his Top 10 videos for the NBA and the NBL. Beau’s off the cuff journalism approach through creative poetry should be seen as a golden standard for an industry that can be seen as extremely professional. Make sure you catch Beau Estes on the NBA and the NBL Top 10 Videos, so you can hear for yourself why he is nicknamed the GOATmentator.