Dear Chicky Baby:
August 5th, 2002 was a tough day for us Laker fans. That’s
the day you left us after succumbing to a head injury you
sustained falling on the stairs of your Encino home. As Larry
Stewart, sports writer for the Los Angeles Times, says,
in L.A. you’re “as big a name as Jerry West, Wilt
Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Kareem Abdul-Jabar, Magic Johnson,
James Worthy, or Shaquille O’Neal.” We believe
you were the best play-by-play basketball announcer of all
time (the only one the L.A. Lakers have ever had), and we
will miss you.
From November 21st, 1965, to December 16th, 2001, you never
missed calling a Laker game which means you called 3338 consecutive
games, By comparison, Cal Ripken’s game streak was 2478,
and A.C. Green’s only 934. As you can see, no record
comes close to yours.
Of course, we’re not the only ones who think you’re
great. During your tenure here in L.A., you won two Emmy Awards
doing a nightly national broadcast on CBS radio, the 1988
Cable ACE Award for “Best Sports Play-by-Play,”
six California Sportscaster of the Year Awards, a Golden Mic
Award, three southern California Broadcasters Association
Awards for “Best Television Play-by-Play,” a star
on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and a place in the Basketball
Hall of Fame.
One thing we’ll miss for sure is your sense of humor.
Even your partner Stu Lantz says, “You never know what
he’s going to say. Every game, he comes up with something.”
When the Lakers game in Chicago was delayed and you had to
fill twenty minutes, for example, you entertained us with
one-liners like this one, “Isn’t that the way
it goes? You plan everything and then the turkey burns.”
As one reporter put it, you may not always be the most polished
broadcaster, but you’re the most entertaining.
But, by far, what we’ll miss the most are your chick-isms.
A player doesn’t miss a series of shots; he “can’t
throw a pea in the ocean.” A player doesn’t put
the ball in the hoop; he makes a “slaaaaaam dunk.”
A player doesn’t miss the hoop entirely; he has an “aaaaair
baaall.” And, of course, our favorite chick-ism is your
closing ritual once you’re sure the Lakers have won,
“This game is in the refrigerator. The door is closed,
the lights are out, the eggs our cooling, the butter’s
getting’ hard, and the Jelloooo’s jigglin’!!”
We just can’t believe we’ll never hear that one
Thank you for all you’ve done for us and for the game.
We can’t believe you’re gone, but we know you’ll
be successful on this new journey.
Your Loyal Fans