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It's in the refrigerator. Posted on 08/06/2002.

As a boy growing up in Los Angeles in the 70s and 80s, you had to love the Lakers. I'd watch every game I could, Kareem at center, Magic top of the key, Jamal Wilkes nailing jump shots from the base line, Michael Cooper stuffing the now-cliched alley-oop. "Showtime," as their dazzling game play was named, was a delightful thing to behold, or, if you found yourself stuck in a car going from one place to another (common in L.A.), listen to on the radio.

"The Lakers march down the court, going left to right across your radio dial." It's hardly original to say, but no commentator was able to bring a game alive with words the way Chick Hearn did. His play-by-play could achieve the cadence and rhythm of beat poetry, punctuated with phrases like "dribble drive", "Coop-a-loop," "In-and-out, heart-brrrrrreak!", and "yo-yoing up and down now."

Though employed by the Lakers, Chick never behaved like the sycophantic broadcaster that so many sports teams had. He called it as he saw it, and could be particularly hard on the Lakers when they weren't playing up to snuff. His views were typically honest and insightful.

When I was 11-years old, I was that weird kid with goggle-glasses, who, highly improbably, dreamed of being Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, practicing my sky hook on the ramshackle hoop set up in my backyard. In my mind's ear, Chick was calling the shots.

Yesterday evening, Chick Hearn died. Complications from falling in his home. 85 years old, this was a while in coming. Still, I just spent the last 30 minutes welling up reading various obituaries. I don't know why, exactly, Chick has had this kind of impact--I tend not to grieve for celebrities. Perhaps its the result of being a key part in a young boy's fantasies.

To get a sense of his verbal wizardry, read this page of Chick-isms.
And view the video tribute to him.

3 comments so far. Add a comment.

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Did the same thing, surfed the web last night looking for articles on Chick. Same time, same place...pretty much grew up with the LA Lakers...went to some games. Even enjoyed listening to UNLV games when he would do some play by play commentaries for them.
Posted by Madonnalisa @ 08/06/2002 08:42 AM PST [link to this comment]

Those were some good basketball days, Pal. I'm sure you remember the picture of Kareem making the hook shot I got him to sign and send you, but do you remember that we sent Kareem one of you making that same classic shot--Coke bottle glasses, spaced teeth and all?
Posted by BJMe @ 08/06/2002 10:25 PM PST [link to this comment]

Please don't assume that "you," that being your reader, is "a boy growing up in Los Angeles in the 70s and 80s." Matching tense is a virtue. Talk about making assumptions about your demographic! :)
Posted by Ed @ 08/08/2002 02:13 PM PST [link to this comment]

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