Sports

Dave Benz let go as Timberwolves play-by-play announcer

After 10 seasons as the play-by-play voice of the Timberwolves, Dave Benz won’t return to the job next season.

Benz served alongside analyst Jim Petersen for his entire tenure and made the announcement on Twitter Thursday morning.

Benz was informed this week by Bally Sports North that it would be heading in a different direction with its broadcasts, a decision with which the Wolves are not interfering.

After taking over as play-by-by announcer from the late Tom Hanneman, Benz formed a solid partnership with Petersen. The two had a conversational and oftentimes humorous chemistry on the air but also maintained their professionalism in calling the action in front of them.

“I would’ve been blessed to be able to call one NBA game in my life,” Benz said. “To think I got to call nearly 800 of them with a guy who became my best friends sitting by my side every step of the way, I’m going to be eternally grateful for that.”

The quality of their broadcasts drew notice from analysts and fans around the league, like The Ringer’s Ryen Russillo, who tuned in to Wolves games via the League Pass app.

For most of his tenure, Benz had the unenviable task of covering bad Wolves teams, and one of his trademarks was ramping up the excitement whenever a Wolves team might look like they were making a run to perhaps cut a lead inside of 15 or 10 points . But Benz and Petersen’s broadcasts didn’t fall into the trap of being overly cheery for the local team, as can often happen in NBA broadcasts.

If the Wolves could be doing something better or they agreed with a call against the team, they said so.

Benz also developed a unique call for Anthony Edwards, and whenever Edwards would make a spectacular play or a rim-rocking dunk, he’d spout an “Ant fact,” or a fact about ants, such as “Ants bury their dead.”

Benz was also a frequent fixture at coaches’ pre-game media access and would often ask questions to inform his broadcasts, along with coming up with unique stats to present on the air. This season, he and Petersen got to cover only one of two playoff appearances in Benz’s time on the air.

The best memories Benz said he had on air included Kevin Garnett’s return to Minnesota in 2015, calling Game 82 of the 2017-18 season when the Wolves clinched a playoff berth on the last day of the season, and even moments that weren’t always favorable for the Wolves, like Kobe Bryant passing Michael Jordan for third place on the all-time scoring list at Target Center in 2014.

Benz will carry those with them, along with the friendships he had off the air with his colleagues.

“Without a doubt, the best part was the relationships I formed,” Benz said. “First and foremost obviously with Jim, then with the people in the truck, a lot of people whose names the every day fan doesn’t know but have been there behind the scenes and the coaches and players and the front office people I’ve gotten to know over the years.”

Benz said he saw the reaction from fans on social media and greatly appreciated it.

“I just want to thank them for the amazing outpouring of support I’ve seen,” Benz said. “I’m absolutely floored and humbled by the reaction. It’s very sad to think I’m not going to be a part of the narrative of the team going forward, but I will go wherever my next adventure takes me with fond, fond memories of all the fans I’ve interacted with and met.”

The Wolves issued this statement: “We would like to thank Dave Benz for his 10 years of service as the Minnesota Timberwolves play-by-play voice. We appreciate all the memories he has provided our players and fans from his calls throughout the years. We wish him the best of luck in the next chapter of his broadcasting career.”

There was no immediate timetable set for finding a new play-by-play broadcaster.

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