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Jason Kosmicki: the South Stands Interview

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Play-by-play announcer for your Denver Nuggets, Jason Kosmicki, AKA "the Koz" has a new lease on life and, like the rest of us, just wants some wins. Koz graciously granted us an interview.

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How old were you when you realized that you wanted to be in broadcasting?

I was 12 years old.  I had moved from Germany and couldn’t speak English. I listened to the radio a lot to pass the time. I think there was a 2 year stretch when Kasey Kasum was my role model. Then at night time I could tune in the LA Dodgers radio between static and I would listen to Vin Scully. He is the best ever. In an odd way those two helped me learn the English language. We didn’t have cable or the internet back then so it was a good out-let. But what really cemented it for me was when I was 14 years old my Dad took me to a Kansas City Royals baseball game. I saw the announcers walk up to the booth and couldn’t believe this was work for them. They got paid to go to a baseball game. How sweet was that? I’m from a small town in Nebraska, back then you played everything. I was smart enough to realize two things. 1) I was not good enough to be a professional athlete and 2) I had to be around sports to be happy. Broadcasting was my way in.


Many play-by-play announcers, including the man you replaced, Jerry Shemmel, covet baseball jobs. Do you?

No. I love the sport and think it’s the best sport on the radio but that’s not my thing. I’m a single father and the most important person in my life is my daughter. I couldn’t imagine giving up summers and not being with her. We have a place at a lake in Nebraska that we spend a lot of time at. We have made so many memories that I wouldn’t trade for anything. My time off in the summer works out perfect with the NBA schedule. You won’t get any complaints from me.


Basketball moves so fast.  It is the most difficult sport for play-by-play announcing in your opinion?

Yes unless you cover the Charlotte Bobcats or another slow down eastern conference team. That’s a bonus in my opinion. You don’t have to think, you just say what you see. Me not thinking is always a better decision for our broadcasts haha.

Can you name an athlete that you are particularly fond of as a person?

I can name a bunch. This is my 17th year and I have developed a few relationships with some guys over the years. These are former Nuggets that will be friends of mine forever. The guys you hang out with, lean on in good times and bad…you know…friends…homies…whatever. In no particular order…Ryan Bowen, Jon Barry, Ed Najera, Greg Buckner, Chauncey Billups. Those would be at the top of my list. 


Jerry Shemmel was with the Nuggets during some rough seasons. Do you wonder what it would be like to cover a sub-20 win team?

Come on now…I was there too. Just in a different role. I was studio host and producer for all of those years. It was so bad that it turned comical. I don’t miss those days.


Did Jerry provide any insight as to how he kept those game calls entertaining?

Only by example. What kept us entertained was each other and Tommy Sheppard (former media relations director and current assistant GM of the Wizards). Tommy would put on headsets during the games and we were the only ones that could hear him. He would provide commentating in our heads only. My biggest regret in my professional career was that I didn’t find a way to record that. Holy cow is that guy funny. It what we did to keep our spirits up.  But I never lost sight of the bigger picture. Yah we were 11-71 one year and 17-65 another. But I hate whiners. How could I possibly complain when I watched my dad go to work at the rail road for 40 plus years. I mean there are people driving busses, getting shot at over – seas every day. How am I going to complain about not winning games?


During last season’s “Melo drama” could you sense a noticeable din around the Nuggets?

 That’s one way of putting it…haha. Dude, that was horrible. I don’t wish that scenario on anyone. Well maybe the Utah jazz…I hate the jazz.


How do you respond to the assertion that the Nuggets’ lack of a “go-to guy” will limit their ceiling?

I would suggest they go back and watch the game this season against the new York knicks. How many “go-to-guys” would you suggest are in the NBA? Who is the go to guy for the spurs? Blazers? Clippers? etc

Do you get the sense that George Karl is enjoying coaching the Nuggets as they are assembled?

Yes. He gets to coach again that has to be nice. Coaching in the NBA for the most part is psychological warfare. Sounds crazy but its true. With less egos to manage he can focus on the task at hand. The actual game and that’s a beautiful thing.

Would you describe yourself as a Nuggets fan?

 No question. We had channel 2 when I was growing up. I used to watch the Nuggets on a black and white TV in my kitchen. Mainly because I was a SOAP fan (that’s an old TV show I don’t know how old you are) the nuggets game would always go long and I watched them a lot back in the hay day. But at the end of the day I work with these guys, I see them spending countless hours just trying to get wins. You go to dinner with them, have cold beers with them (staff/coaches not players) you know their families. You want them to do well. So that turns you into a fan. It’s so important for them to win to survive that it becomes important to me. I think that comes across in the broadcasts. I love this team, when they play well I am happy. But sometimes when they are kicking a game, I get pissed. Maybe that’s not how they teach it in broadcast school but that’s an honest answer. Even though I get angry at times it because I want the same thing they want…wins man, it’s all about the wins.  


Having been a fan of yours for a long time I have seen you drop a lot of weight. What inspired you to get started?

Death. I had maybe 20 -30 years left. I was 336 pounds. And not able to do anything. It sucked. I come from a fat family. I feel bad for overweight people. The day in and day out horrors of being overweight is a very emotional thing to deal with.  I had lap band surgery and have lost 116 pounds. It was my last option. I’m glad it worked out.  I sometimes feel that elective surgery is kind of messing with the mojo a little but I had no other option. By the way I am disease and drug free, single and enjoy long walks on the beach, just in case one of the 17 people reading this interview is interested. I jest.


You spend a lot of time on the road.  Do you find eating right while traveling challenging?

 Not now…haha. I eat a half of a banana and that’s a wrap. But yes, you have to be very conscience on what you do on the road. It’s easy to not eat healthy when you are relying on someone else to make your food for you. Our strength coach Steve Hess brings his own food. He sits next to me on the bus at any time of day you can look over, watch him bight the corner off of a zip lock bag and then “mush” sweet potatoes or turkey in marina sauce into his grill. Cold mind you. It’s disgusting. He always offers me a bite, but that is border line wrong right there.


What’s your favorite healthy meal?

 I can make a mean shrimp curry that is very healthy and spicy. My biggest hobby is cooking. If I were not a broadcaster I would be a chef. I have a big interest in cooking. I am what you would classify as a “foodie.” I’m going to own a restaurant someday. You have to have goals people. Of course it’s going to be attached to an Irish pub/sports bar. You have to be a realist people.


Why do people from Kearney pronounce it Car-Knee instead of Care-knee like its spelled?

 Seriously? This is your question? I am wasting my time on this? Hahaha…how the hell do I know. They also pronounce Norfolk (another town in Nebraska) Nor-fork not Nor-folk. What did George Carlin say “I know why they call it the heartland….cuz the brain aint there.” That’s a good one for your Colorado people right there. But I love Nebraska. It’s a good place to be from. Go Corn!!


What’s a “Loper”?

A loper Colin, is the nick-name for an Antelope. Go Lopers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 


Is there a big red letter “N” on your house?

I have framed picture of our national championship posters/ a street sign that says “Husker lane”/ a husker banner / every sports illustrated that has a husker on the cover/ a signed copy of Dr. Toms last book “faith in the game” / 16 copies of the sporting news’ cover of Tom being carried off the field after his last game (scott frost killed peyton manning in the national championship game---go look  at the stats) and a rock outside my door that says “welcome husker fans.” Other than that not much.


How have the levels been out at McConaughy?  Last time I was out there it was bleak.

 100% capacity. 2 years in a row. Just if you go, keep going to the north side, that’s where the tourists are. The southside lake rats will keep it real at bayside golf resort.


If you had to choose one artist for your Pandora station who would you choose?

Sheesh just one? Whiskey Myers. You haven’t heard of them and that’s ok. Check them out on iTunes listen to summer 2005/ Ballad of a southern man / Anna Marie … that should get you hooked if you are feeling a Texas country blues vibe.


How often do you get called "Kosmiski"?

Rarely. Its spelled Kosmicki but pronounced Koz-miss-key. The eastern Nebraska Kosmicki’s gave up and quit correcting people. The western Nebraska Kosmickis are still putting up a good fight.

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