Chick Hearn Biography & Los Angeles Lakers Career

Francis Dayle “Chick” Hearn was born November 27, 1916 in Aurora, Illinois. Hearn enjoyed the game of basketball growing up, playing at Mormion Academy High School and in college at Bradley University. In fact it was while at Bradley that he got the nickname “Chick.”

Some teammates of Hearn’s played a prank on him, giving him a shoebox with what he thought was a new pair of sneakers. Instead Hearn opened the box to find a chicken inside, thus earning him the nickname that stuck with him through the rest of his life.

Lakers Announcing Career

Hearn joined the Lakers when the team moved from Minneapolis to Los Angeles in 1960, serving as the team’s lead play-by-play man until his death in 2002. He was one of the few broadcasters capable of doing a simulcast, meaning his commentary was broadcasted on both the Lakers’ television and radio stations.

His broadcast style, known as “Words-eye view” was also universally beloved and respected as he coined a number of terms that are now a regular part of the basketball lexicon.

The most notable of those terms are undoubtedly slam dunk, air ball, and finger roll, all of which are regularly used by fans across the globe. Hearn also coined terms such as garbage time, ticky-tack foul, charity stripe, triple-double, give-and-go, no harm no foul, and frozen rope.

Those fortunate enough to listen to Chick Hearn regularly were also able to hear any number of his lesser known sayings. The “Coop-a-Loop” referred to an alley-oop to Lakers wing Michael Cooper while a “20-foot layup” referred to a Jamaal Wilkes jumper, since he was basically automatic from that range.

“The mustard is off the hot dog,” “In and out, heart brrrrrreak,” “dribble-drive,” and “caught with his hand in the cookie jar” were all favorites of fans throughout the years. His most famous however, came whenever the Lakers had the game in hand.

“This games is in the refrigerator. The door is closed, the lights are out, the eggs are cooling, the butter’s getting hard, and the jell-o is jiggling” was a staple of Hearn’s broadcasts and the Lakers lost just once ever, after Hearn put the game away.

Hearn’s most famous accomplishment without a doubt was his streak of consecutive games called. Beginning on November 21, 1965 Chick would call 3,338 consecutive Lakers games, a mark that will likely never be broken. The streak would end on December 16, 2001 as Hearn had to undergo cardiac bypass surgery.

Hearn returned to the booth on April 9, 2002 finishing out the season with his final game being Game 4 of the 2002 NBA Finals when the Lakers swept the New Jersey Nets.

In all, Hearn was the voice of 9 Lakers NBA Championships and often served as the MC for the team’s championship parades.

Hearn also made a number of TV and movie appearances. Most notably, Hearn appeared on The Simpsons, Rugrats, and Gilligan’s Island and also in movies such as Fletch, White Men Can’t Jump, and The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh.

Hearn became the first broadcaster elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003. He also won the Gowdy Award in 1991, was elected to the American Sportscasters Hall of Fame in 1995, and the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame in 1997. Hearn also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Hearn passed away on August 5, 2002 after falling in his home and suffering a head injury from which he never recovered.

On December 2, 2002 the Lakers raised a jersey in the Staples Center rafters to honor Chick with a microphone in place of a jersey number. The Lakers also honored Hearn with a bronze statue on April 16, 2010.