Chick Hearn was the constant for the Lakers in Los Angeles. Through every coach, superstar, dynasty, era, Chick was there for all of it and his voice can be heard through every Lakers moment you can remember.
Whether it was Magic’s amazing 42 point, 15 rebound, 7 assist performance as a rookie or Kareem breaking the scoring record, or Kobe to Shaq against the Blazers, Chick Hearn’s iconic voice is a part of all of it.
Even as he got older and got some players mixed up, referring to Kobe as Magic or Horry as Worthy, it didn’t matter, we just wanted to hear Chick’s voice.
And even though Chick was the biggest Laker fan in the world, he never showed bias to the other team or amazing plays. Dr. J’s amazing dunk on Michael Cooper is elevated because of Chick’s call.
I couldn’t even think of one great Chick moment, my favorite memory would have to be my family gathering around the TV to watch a Laker playoff game, muting the sound, and turning up the radio to hear Chick calling the game. It was just that much better.
We miss you Chick, the greatest play-by-play man of all-time.
Los Angeles is known as a city of stars and the Lakers are accustomed to gathering the best talent the league has to offer. Over its history, some of the biggest names in the NBA have donned the purple-and-gold. From Jerry West to Kobe Bryant, the Lakers have had star power that not only entertains fans, but win championships.
However, there was another star in Los Angeles who never actually suited up for a game. Chick Hearn was a legendary broadcaster who delighted listeners with his unique take on the game and paved the way for everyone after him. Hearn coined the phrases “slam dunk” and “air ball,” and was a staple at every game.
Players have come and gone, but Hearn was always with the Lakers during both the good and the bad. There was really never a Lakers game without Hearn and even if the team was on the verge of losing, there was nothing like hearing Hearn call the game live. There will never be a more recognizable voice in basketball and Chick Hearn’s presence will be forever missed.
Hearn once called 3,338 consecutive Lakers games and was in the booth for the final time in 2002 when the Lakers swept the New Jersey Nets for their third consecutive title.
It’s been 11 years since Chick Hearn passed away, but his legacy lives on as arguably one of the greatest play-by-play announcers of all-time.
Although I can’t say there’s one Chick moment in particular that I’ll always remember. Chick’s had countless moments and made seemingly endless contributions to the game inventing phrases like slam dunk and air ball, but it was simply his voice and presence on broadcasts of Lakers games that made watching games that much more enjoyable.
Chick was so beloved by Los Angeles Lakers fans and the organization that he was given the honor of having the second bronze Lakers statue outside of the Staples Center after Jerry West. The statue was a well-deserved honor from a man who broadcasted 3,338 consecutive Lakers games dating all the way back to Nov. 21, 1965.
Perhaps the one thing I’ll remember Chick for the most and what I always looked forward to was the legendary broadcaster putting the game in the fridge.
Once it became clear the Lakers had the game in the bag, Chick would put it in the fridge saying the following: “This game’s in the refrigerator! The door’s closed, the lights are out, the eggs are cooling, the butter’s getting hard, and the Jell-O is jiggling.”
The time when Lakers fans muted their televisions to listen to the radio voice of Chick Hearn has passed, but his memory lives on in Chickisms, a statue outside of Staples Center, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Chick Hearn Court, the Hollywood Walk Of Fame and the Staples Center rafters, just to name a few.
He added a new dimension to watching professional sports, and the Lakers were the fortunate team to benefit from his verbal vision and originality.
The kids running around screaming “slam dunk!” likely have no idea where that phrase came from. Neither do they know that “air-ball” was actually a phrase coined by Chick. Equally, most college players probably have no idea that the “triple-double” they just recorded in the books wouldn’t be called a triple-double, if it hadn’t been for Chick.
But, whether or not those that use his phrases know his story, his words will always live on. And, that’s what Chick would have wanted.
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