minoroots

Lakers Haven’t Won Since Chick Left

Posted in Lakers, Tribute by minoroots on 05/15/2009

My last post brought back some nostalgia from the Chick Hearn-era of Laker basketball. The Lakers haven’t won the title since Chick Hearn passed away in late 2002. Hopefully this year changes things… but boy, would it be great to have him right now to point this team in the right direction. I realized that on the current team, only Kobe and Fish were around to get to know Chick during their time with the Lakers.

Here’s one excerpt that really reminded me of how great Chick really was:

It was a thing to behold, Chick Hearn doing play-by-play. Nobody ever tries to imitate him. Other basketball announcers are content to merely call the name of each player who touches the ball, then review the play in its aftermath. Hearn kept you right up to date. If a player made a stutterstep move, then dribbled to his left and around a screen to the corner of the key, then pulled up for a jumper, you’d get the hesitation, an assessment of its effect on the defender, the dribble, the name of the screener and the spot on the floor where the shooter popped up, expressed in terms of direction and distance from the basket, and if another defender stepped up you’d get his name too, all with enough time to spare for Hearn to say the ball was “on the way” — while it still was. And if the shooter was fouled and the shot missed: “Counts-if-it-GOES-it-doesn’t-go!”

Try it sometime, just for fun, to see if you can do it. Nobody else ever does. Not with a microphone turned on anyway.

I just imagined it, and I can hear Chick making that call (really, just try to call the scene out loud as if you were Chick—it’s impossible). And that part about other announcers merely calling the names of players who touch the ball, then review the play afterward? So true. It’s so slow & easy today, since they’re calling the action retroactively over a slow-motion instant replay. Turn on ESPN or TNT and take a listen to Mike Breen or Kevin Harlan… they’re good, but nowhere near Chick good.

…and about my previous rant on how the Lakers would’ve responded to Chick—I’ll let this anecdote speak for itself:

CNNSI.com: Do you have a favorite Chick memory?

Taylor: A few years ago, when Kobe Bryant was in maybe his second year and Del Harris was the Lakers’ head coach, Chick came down to the court and wanted to talk to a few players before the game. He called to Kobe at exactly the same time that Harris did, and you could see that Kobe had a decision to make about who he was going to respond to.

Kobe started toward Chick, and Chick gave him a quick, little shake of the head that said, “No, no. Go to Del.” And that’s what Kobe did. That really told me the kind of respect he got, that players kind of ranked him above their coach.

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