A Tribute to Chick (part 1 of many)

Posted in Hoops, Tribute by minoroots on 11/11/2008
Francis Dale Chick Hearn

Francis Dayle "Chick" Hearn

If you know me, if you’ve ever talked to me about basketball, or if you’ve read any of my posts, you know about my passion for the Lakers. And if you’ve ever talked with me extensively about the Lakers, or if you’ve read my profile, you’ll know that the late Chick Hearn–legendary long-time Laker announcer who’s innovative play-by-play commentary spanned the careers of Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, the Showtime Lakers, and the Shaq/Kobe era–holds a special place in my heart.

See, I’ve grown to fall in love with basketball from a young age, but it probably wasn’t in a typical way (or at least that’s what I think). I imagine that most basketball fans (or any other sport, for that matter) are sort of ‘born into’ it. What I mean is that their parent or parents are already big fans of the sport, whether it be basketball, baseball, football or anything else, and these parents probably watch and/or play the game around or with their kids, and their kids naturally learn to love the sport. At leasts that’s what I see out of most of my basketball loving friends. Many of them pretty much grew up with their dad/brother/uncle/cousin as their personal basketball coach.

For me, growing up in an immigrant household, nobody in the house knowing a thing about basketball, and it was difficult to pick up the little nuances of the game. Sure, my parents enrolled me into the local J-league basketball team, but I can honestly say that at the age of 6, I knew nothing at all about basketball. Not a single rule, not a single athlete–heck, I didn’t even know the NBA existed.

But I am so grateful for my parents for taking me to the local Community Center, for letting me play with the West Covina Sabers, and creating that initial link between me and basketball. From there, Coach Ray (aka Randy’s dad) taught me the basics of hoop, and weekly trips to the gym became a part of my life.

But Chick–Chick was the one who really made me fall in love with the Lakers, with the sport of basketball itself. Who can forget his amazing “Words-Eye-View”? His vast number of “Chick-isms,” which today are synonymous with and are absolutely necessary to the vernacular of the game? Without ever seeing me and meeting me in-person, Chick single-handedly taught me more than anybody ever has about the game of basketball.

With Chick, you didn’t need to be watching anything–he can make you visualize what was happening on the court. You can ‘see’ it. If you didn’t know what a ‘hop-step’ was, you’d definitely know after Chick described it as a “Bunny-hop in the pea patch.” You know that Nick “The Quick” Van Exel knocked down a line-drive jumper with no arc whatsoever because Chick would tell you it was “A Frozen Rope!” A foul called was so obvious that you can “Call it with braille.”

The only announcer I know with a retired jersey in his honor

The only announcer I know with a retired jersey in his honor

Among his many “Chick-isms,” there are a few that I think would surprise you to know that he was the originator of the term. Honestly, tell me if anybody in the world can announce a hoops game today without using these words coined by Chick:

  • “Slaaaaaaaaam Dunk!”
  • “Air-Ball”
  • “Layup”
  • “BLOOOOOOWS the layup!”
  • “Dribble-drive”
  • “Give-and-go”
  • “Triple-double”
  • “No-look pass”
  • “Ticky-tack foul”

You can’t, right? But Chick made it possible to call the games in an exciting way that we all enjoy today.

From Nov. 21, 1965, Chick announced a whopping 3,338 CONSECUTIVE Laker games over the course of 36 years. Chick never took a day off. He passed away on August 5, 2002, and as fate would have it, the Lakers haven’t won a championship since.

I miss Chick. He was like my grandpa over the radio. I’ll try and post about Chick and his contributions to the game from time to time here.

Here’s to the greatest NBA announcer there ever was, and ever will be.


One Response

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  1. Martin Y said, on 11/11/2008 at 11:13 am

    Minoru! This is your old UCLA buddy (Rieber 5 South!). I just came across your blog and I must say I’m pretty impressed. It might just be time to switch over to wordpress and get rid of the xanga. Anyways, good to know there are fellow avid bball fans out there. Maybe we’ll play together sometime (on a trip to visit UCLA or something). Take it easy buddy.

    – Marty

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