Longtime voices of the Portland Trail Blazers will not be returning next season.
The team announced Wednesday that play-by-play television announcer Mike Barrett, color analyst Mike Rice and radio analyst Antonio Harvey will not be on the broadcast team for the 2016-2017 season.
Radio play-by-place voice Brian Wheeler will be back for his 19th season in Portland, with the current plan for him to broadcast games by himself on the radio.
Chris McGowan, Blazers president and chief executive officer, said a search has already started to find replacements for Barrett and Rice on TV.
“After reviewing our entire broadcast operation over the past couple of seasons, I felt it was a good time for us to transition into a new direction,” McGowan said in a statement.
Rice joined the Trail Blazers in 1991 and has worked both on radio and TV for the team.
Barrett was hired by the Blazers in December 1999 and served a variety of roles, but was best known for his pairing with Rice to broadcast Blazers games on TV for more than a decade.
Harvey, a former Blazers player, was hired as a radio analyst prior to the 2005-2006 season.
McGowan, who is seeking a new television agreement that would start after next season, said he realizes that fans will be upset with the move, but that the team had to look ahead to the future.
"Every decision I make isn't going to be the most popular one, but I can't make decisions based on that," he said. "I have to make often tough decisions to put our organization to grow into the future. You can debate whether those decisions are right or wrong over the long haul."
"We are looking for creatively a new voice, a new tone," McGowan continued. "When you say that, it's not about major disappointment with what we had it's just about me making a determination that I want to try something new."
Barrett, Rice and Harvey all posted to social media Wednesday afternoon to thank fans.
Thanks friends. Your words have been humbling today. Blindsided but not at all bitter. The relationship with you is what I'll miss most.— Mike Barrett (@blazermb) June 15, 2016
It's been a great run with Mike Barrett & the Blazers. What made it great was the wonderful fans who made me part of a family here in org— Mike Rice (@mikerice6) June 15, 2016
I really will miss blazer games & I am hoping i can team up with M.B. maybe on a talk show in the future. We do know the nba— Mike Rice (@mikerice6) June 15, 2016
In response to the news, fans have started a petition on Change.org to keep the Barrett, Rice and Harvey as the broadcast team.
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