By Seth Daniel
It could be Charlotte, Knoxville, Gainesville or College Station, but it is always Everett that is in the heart of basketball broadcasting guru Pat Bradley – who grew up in Everett, lived for basketball here and still speaks highly of his experiences in his hometown.
Now, however, he has a southern bent to his life, and has far less to do with the Greater Boston League (GBL), but everything to do with the Southeastern Conference (SEC) – one of the top college athletic conferences in the nation.
After a successful career as a player at Everett High School and then at the University of Arkansas – followed by a standout broadcasting gig as the voice of the Arkansas Razorbacks basketball team – Everett native Pat Bradley has moved up to the television world as a game analyst and studio commentator for the SEC Network’s basketball broadcasts.
“This season is my first year doing the SEC Network,” he said by phone recently. “I started in October with my first day doing the SEC media days in Nashville and then I did a Kentucky exhibition as my first game in late October. I am in the studio once a week in Charlotte and, of course, the SEC conference season started up in late December and January, so it’s been very, very busy. I usually do Tuesdays and Wednesdays in Charlotte in studio. Every Saturday, I do a different game at a different SEC campus.”
Prior to his new role on the critically acclaimed SEC Network, Bradley worked for several years doing radio and television broadcasts for the Arkansas Razorback Network, which broadcast television and radio. That, he said, was one of the things that gave him a leg up in landing the new position – which he said brings a lot more travel from his home in Little Rock, Arkansas.
“I had done other TV stuff and radio,” he said. “I was fortunate to have already done games in the SEC. That was probably one factor.”
Bradley knows all the ins and outs of SEC basketball, including the inside information on coaching searches and the performance of teams like the top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats. He will also be playing a big role in the upcoming SEC Tournament in March, which he is preparing for now.
However, any basketball conversation with Bradley soon turns to his time in Everett – and how excellent coaching and discipline from elementary school all the way to Everett High (Class of 1995) under Coach John DiBiaso, prepared him for a stellar career at Arkansas in the 1990s. He finished his career there as the SEC record holder for three-point baskets in a career.
That playing career started with the vaunted Everett Rats, he said with a fond laugh.
“I played for the mighty Everett Rats,” he said. “We were a feared team throughout all of Massachusetts. Everett had good youth basketball. I played for St. Anthony’s and the Everett Rats and, of course, the Everett Recreation Center. They always had a good league and my first league was there in 5th grade. Lenny Parsons was my coach. If it was basketball in Everett, any league was where I would play. However, the Everett Rats were the team to play for.”
He said back then he was strongly influenced by the Celtics and Larry Bird, especially Bird’s constant talk about getting into the gym and practicing. That, he said, is what he did staring in the 5th or 6th grade.
By the time he got to Everett High, he was a shooter, a good defender, a rebounder and an excellent passer. He said Coach DiBiaso prepared him in many ways to play for Hall of Fame Coach Nolan Richardson in, at the time, Arkansas’s run-and-gun, press oriented style. It was a style that won Richardson a national championship in 1994, and it wasn’t something unfamiliar to Bradley when he arrived on campus in 1995.
“Under Coach DiBiaso, we pressed in high school all the time,” he said. “We ran a very strict half court offense, but on defense he let us get out and press and run. So, at an early age, working with Coach DiBiaso, I understood how to read and to anticipate. In fact, I was so far ahead of everyone else because of what Coach DiBiaso was teaching us…That helped me so much when I played for Nolan.”
He added that Coach DiBiaso knew how to make it simple, and was able to understand and get on the same level with just about any kind of kid – something Bradley said he sees still today when he visits Everett and takes in a game.
That foundation landed Bradley on some very good AAU teams, including a team in New Bedford – which is where he caught the eye of Coach Richardson during a high-profile tournament in North Carolina. The New Bedford team was scrappy and found ways to win, Bradley said, and that impressed Richardson.
Embarking on a great career at Arkansas, whose campus is located in the Ozarks at Fayetteville, Bradley said he had to learn new southern ways – going from Chicken Parms and Z Cavarricci gold chains in Everett to BBQ ribs and Key overalls in Fayetteville.
When he graduated, however, an injury during a game in Europe prevented him from going any further in his professional career in Europe, and he returned to Everett. There, he said, Supt. Fred Foresteire was instrumental in helping him land a substitute-teaching job for a year at the high school.
At the end of that year, however, Little Rock came calling again. It seemed a man in Little Rock was starting a minor league basketball team and he wanted Bradley to be the coach.
So, he returned to Little Rock and had some great success there in the coaching ranks. However, the team ended up folding a few years later, and that led to the ESPN affiliate in Little Rock asking him in May 2007 to join their radio team.
The rest, Bradley said, is history.
“I’ve been doing the radio ever since,” he said. “The connection to Little Rock brought me back from Everett and the radio kept me there. Who knows what’s next?…Right now I’m on the road with the SEC Network. There isn’t a day I’m not traveling. I’ll fly into Charlotte on Monday and stay there. Then back to Little Rock on Thursday. Then on Friday, I’ll fly out to do another game on Saturday. I get a day in Little Rock on Sunday, and then on Monday I do it all over again. I am really enjoying it.”