August 06, 2002

The Only Good L.A. Times Co...

Posted by at August 6, 2002 03:38 PM

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that talks like a man. The guy who did more than any other to take pro basketball out of the drafty gyms in Peoria and Altoona and put it on prime time.

Every basketball player signing a million-dollar contract should take off his hat stepping across that slice of sidewalk on Hollywood Boulevard they dedicated to Chick Hearn Wednesday. [...]

Chick Hearn and pro basketball made Romeo and Juliet, ham and eggs, gin and tonic look like unmatched opposites. It was like a river joining a sea. Caruso finding a song, Van Gogh a brush.

Any sport needs a lively nomenclature, word pictures that go into the language. Simple terms like bases loaded, circus catch, circuit clout, screwball and squeeze play all served to dramatize the grand old game of baseball that even became the national pastime, thanks to the fertile mind of some chronicler of press row.

Ted Husing took football out of its dock-fight image and invented secondaries, even tertiaries for its defensive postures, and talked of whole hosts of tacklers and coffin corner kicks until the game today is so full of colorful allusions it is almost liturgical in scope.

Chick Hearn did the same things for pro basketball, which had almost no language of its own when he came along. No more would division playoff games be played before 2,800 spectators after Chick hit the scene. They became the hardest tickets in town once Chick was out in front of the tent.

He didn't make basketball occult, he made it fun. He knew it as a player himself and he was far from a homer. Chick became almost a public scold when a player malingered. Or an ownership. The other good piece of writing in that paper was, not surprisingly, a quote from Vin Scully:

Though we have lost a dear friend and a true broadcasting legend today, I would like to offer a prayer of thanksgiving for having been able to enjoy his work for all these years. Chick had immense talent that was driven by a tremendous work ethic and an insurmountable passion for the game and his trade. His personality, character and professionalism will be greatly missed, yet his spirit, importance and impact will live forever.
"A prayer of thanksgiving," indeed. Let's all give Vinnie the love he's due while we can still enjoy his golden, Cutty Sark-smooth voice.

Posted by at August 6, 2002 03:38 PM
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