The Los Angeles Lakers have a rich and storied history, one that has seen some of the biggest names in professional basketball put on the purple and gold. Equally revered in Lakers lore is Chick Hearn, the legendary play-by-play man who called his 2,000th consecutive Lakers game on Feb. 28, 1987.
Hearn’s incredible streak began in November of 1965 when he first slid into the announcer’s chair for the Lakers. He quickly became a favorite with fans thanks to his fast-talking and quick wit while calling the game.
Known for a variety of catchphrases, Hearn used terms like “popcorn machine” to describe when a defender bites on a pump-fake and “the mustard is off the hot dog” when a fancy play goes awry.
It was Chick-isms like these that kept fans drawn to Hearn for years and ultimately made him as synonymous with Lakers basketball as any of the great players who have taken the floor for the team.
Perhaps Hearn’s most famous catchphrase came whenever it was clear that the Lakers were going to win a game.
On those occasions, Hearn would declare that the game was “in the refrigerator,” and for emphasis would add that “the door is closed, the lights are out, the eggs are cooling, the butter’s getting hard, and the jellooooo is jiggling.”
Hearn’s 2,000th game, unfortunately, came in a 107-100 loss to the Utah Jazz, snapping a six-game winning streak. But that did little to lessen the importance of the moment.
Ultimately, Hearn’s streak reached 3,338 games. He passed away in the summer of 2002, and today has a jersey retired in the rafters of the Staples Center as well as a statue outside the arena. While the team has seen a number of different play-by-play commentators take over in the years since, Hearn will forever be the voice associated with the Lakers.
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