It's true that, with the influx of foreign players in the NBA, calling a game these days isn't easy. Tongue twisters abound.
It's was tough enough when the Lakers featured guys like Sasha Vujacic and Vladimir Radmanovic, for instance. But they recently added Didier Ilunga-Mbenga as well.
But the new guy on the Utah Jazz has a simple name, really. Four syllables with not an umlaut, hyphen or accent mark to be found.
It's so easy, some Jazz fans at EnergySolutions Arena started chanting it after he'd buried a half dozen or so 3-pointers during a recent game "Ky-ell Kor-ver, Ky-ell Kor-ver, Ky-ell Kor-ver."
Yet veteran play-by-play announcer "Hot Rod" Hundley mispronounces that particular name every time he says it. To hear Hundley call a game, you'd think the Jazz have a player named "Cal Kover" making his first name monosyllabic and completely forgetting about the "r" in the middle of the surname. Hot Rod also has the tendency of using both of his names together, while generally using just one for the other guys.
"Williams to Cal Kover on the wing. Cal Kover passes baseline to Harpring. Matt dribbles into a double-team, back to Cal Kover for an open 3. Got it!"
It's actually sort of endearing once you get used to it. Besides, after 30-plus years as the voice of the Jazz, Hundley deserves to call any player in the association any name he wants. If a Charlie Villanueva becomes Charlie Villanova in the process, what's the harm, really?
Just be happy, for Hot Rod's sake, that new Chicago Cubs outfielder Kosuke Fukudome plays baseball. That guy's name is an unintentional FCC violation waiting to happen. (For the record, it's supposed to be pronounced foo-koo-doh-may).
But let's get back to Korver or Cal Kover, if you prefer. The Jazz were 16-16 when they acquired the 6-6 Ashton Kutcher look-alike in late December. Since then, the Jazz have Punk'd the rest of the NBA. Utah is 17-3 with Korver in uniform.
(Or 16-4. This column, truth be told, was completed after Friday night's Jazz loss at Sacramento but before Saturday's home game vs. the shorthanded Bulls. The 17-3 mark is assuming Utah beats Chicago, which should happen, right?)
Do the math. The Jazz were a .500 team when the doppelganger of Demi Moore's boy-toy showed up. Since then, Utah is winning at an .850 clip.
So the difference is Korver, right? Many Jazz fans seem to think so. Korver, as Deron Williams has pointed out, has quickly become an EnergySolutions Arena fan favorite and not just to the teen girls that have posters of Kutcher on their walls and still watch "That '70s Show" in syndication.
The fact of the matter is that Korver has made the Jazz better, but Utah was bound to have a huge month of January regardless. Utah simply was much better than their December record indicated.
Then January brought a much easier schedule. With or without Korver, the Jazz would have gone on a run the past 20 games and moved into the Northwest Division lead.
But if fans want to believe Cal Kover is the reason for the improvement, so be it.Now if Utah could just get Charlie Villanova from the Bucks ...