Our Greatest Hopes
- April 29: Statement on Commissioner Silver's Decision
- April 28: 2014 Awards Series Most Improved Player: Kelly Olynyk
- April 25: Green's an Ironman in More Ways Than One
- April 22: Celtics Finish Off Year 1 of Rebuild Process
- April 18: Ties Broken for NBA Draft 2014 Order of Selection
- April 17: Inside the Numbers: Draft Lottery Q&A
- April 17: Celts Should Be Proud of Their Final Chapter
- April 16: That's What He Said - Wizards at Celtics
- April 15: Boston Celtics Thank Fans for Support
- April 14: That's What He Said - Celtics at 76ers
- April 12: That's What He Said - Celtics at Cavaliers
- April 11: That's What He Said - Bobcats at Celtics
- April 09: That's What He Said - Celtics at Hawks
- April 08: Rondo, Celtics Still Have Much To Play For
- April 07: Stevens Gives Updates on AB, Sully, Hump
- April 05: That's What He Said - Celtics at Pistons
- April 04: That's What He Said - 76ers at Celtics
- April 03: Celts Moving Forward After Disappointing L
- April 02: That's What He Said - Celtics at Wizards
- April 02: Bradley Remains Questionable with Achilles
- April 01: Rondo Teams with Gorman as Color Analyst
- March 31: That's What He Said - Celtics at Bulls
- March 31: That's What He Said - Bulls at Celtics
- March 29: Stevens Debates New Lineup "Every Minute"
- March 29: That's What He Said - Celtics at Raptors
- March 26: That's What He Said - Raptors at Celtics
- March 25: C's Taste Playoffs Through Home-and-Homes
- March 24: Don't Sleep on NBA's Madness in March
- March 22: Bradley's New Routine: Tip, Tape, Torch
- March 21: That's What He Said - Celtics at Nets
- March 21: C's Talk Tourney, Downplay Notion of Upsets
- March 21: Stevens: C's Must Improve To Cut Down Nets
- March 21: Celtics Sign Babb to Multi-Year Contract
- March 20: Rondo, Celtics Take Season Series from Heat
- March 18: Bayless Sizzles in 4th To Lead Comeback Bid
- March 18: That's What He Said - Celtics at Mavericks
- March 17: Pelicans Outlast Celtics in Wild OT Thriller
- March 16: That's What He Said - Celtics at Pelicans
- March 14: That's What He Said - Suns at Celtics
- March 13: SportVu's Take on Rondo's First Two Months
- March 12: That's What He Said - Knicks at Celtics
- March 11: That's What He Said - Celtics at Pacers
- March 11: Celtics Sign Babb to Second 10-day Contract
- March 10: That's What He Said - Pistons at Celtics
- March 08: Stevens Excited To Enjoy Madness as a Fan
- March 08: Bradley Could Return as Early as Friday
- March 08: That's What He Said - Nets at Celtics
- March 07: Vitor Faverani Medical Update
- March 06: National Anthem Open Call Auditions
- March 06: Celts Lose, but Olynyk Continues To Evolve
- March 06: That's What He Said - Warriors at Celtics
- March 04: Post-ACL Rondo is Shooting the Lights Out
- March 04: C's Lose Wallace; Olynyk, Bradley Improve
- March 04: Gerald Wallace Injury Update
- March 03: Winter Warmth: Green Heats up in February
- March 02: That's What He Said - Pacers at Celtics
There are those of you, without question, who never saw him work. Some who might, at some level, wonder why so much of this sports weekend has been devoted to man who never played the game, never hit a jump shot, never caught a pass, hit a homerun or scored a goal.
Most of you know Jim McKay died yesterday. And if you're not lucky enough to know why it's a big deal, and why it matters here tonight, I'm truly sorry.
Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sports... the thrill of victory... and the agony of defeat... the human drama of athletic competition... This is "ABC's Wide World of Sports!"
- Wide World of Sports
Today, there's no more need to span the globe. It doesn't work that way anymore. The sports world is so much smaller than the one Jim McKay explored for us. Tonight, the world isn't cliff diving, or sled dog racing. Tonight, the globe is gathered around televisions...watching ABC...and the NBA Finals.
I wish he were here.
Can you ever imagine going out of your way, rushing home to watch wrist-wrestling, or demolition derby, or barrel rolling? Seems absurd now, doesn't it? Well, it was pretty absurd 45 years ago, too. But Jim McKay made you want to watch. He made you feel like you had to watch, like you were supposed to watch.
And he did it in the most beautifully simple, strikingly basic and most often forgotten way there is. By caring. By humanizing the participants. By being the master storyteller in a profession that at its very core, is storytelling. And you cared because you knew he cared. Victory was thrilling because of it, defeat was agonizing. It truly was.
It seems simple, because he made it seem that way. But it was a gift. And what better time and place for all of us to remember what he taught us. What better place, than this grandest of world sports stages.
The sports world isn't wide anymore.
We don't have to span the globe. We don't watch the world. The world, at least tonight, is watching us.
And if he were here tonight, you would I promise, know so much more about the people playing in this NBA Finals game. Not just their stats, not how many points they scored in the Conference Semifinals. Jim McKay gave us the good stuff.
He'd want you to know that Ronny Turiaf survived open heart surgery to be here tonight. That long before he returned from the locker room in Game One, Paul Pierce used to get up at 5 every morning to workout, and shoot hoops, to avoid the gang life in his neighborhood where often, it wasn't hoops that were being shot. About the kid who was brutally stabbed here in Boston eight years ago, and the man he's become, staying true to his team and himself through it all to the Finals. You'd hear not about the Lamar Odom that often frustrates fans with his inconsistent play, but rather the man who lost his infant son two years ago, yet somehow, found his will to go on.
How could the haters who chanted "Fire Doc" at the Celtics head coach 18 months ago, possibly affect the man whose home, and faith was destroyed by a real fire ten years earlier. A real fire, set out of hatred and ignorance and cowardice. If Jim McKay were here tonight, he'd ask that question of all us as well.
And if you close your eyes, you can hear Jim McKay telling the story of Leon Powe, surviving a broken family, surviving hardships, that no child should ever have to endure. You can envision the prose he would have used to talk about going from flea markets in the parking lot of Oakland Arena that helped make ends meet, to stepping on the floor inside that very same building years later as an NBA rookie. To the spot where all of us meet tonight, here in the NBA Finals.
He'd have done the impossible.
He would have made you care even more.
As I stood in the booth at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, I glanced down at the microphone I was holding. The "mike flag" as we like to call it, read "ABC Sports"
It was September 9, 2000.
There were a million thoughts going through my head that day, as I prepared for my network television debut.
But two were the most vivid.
One, was the part that ABC Sports played in my childhood. How many hours I must have spent watching Howard Cosell, and Frank Gifford and Keith Jackson and Chis Schenkel and Al Michaels and of course Jim McKay. With their yellow blazers and the ABC Sports logo and the theme music that always played in your head, daydreaming of one day being a part of it.
The other, is that my father, with whom I'd grown up watching Wide World of Sports every Saturday, and Monday Night Football. My father, with whom ABC Sports was a staple of our relationship, died on that very same day, September 9th sixteen years earlier.
It was a pretty powerful moment. I always wished he could have seen it.
The ABC Sports of my childhood wouldn't have existed without Wide World.
And Wide World would never have survived without Jim McKay.
He was what many of us will just aspire to be.
He was the very best at what he did.
Disingenuousness and disloyalty are a big part of this business, and I'm sure they're a part of most businesses. And it was a weight that debilitated Jim McKay in the middle of his life. It led him to depression, which threatened his career and his life. But his humanity wouldn't be broken by broadcasting, and eventually, that humanity would change it.
And while the first snapshot, the first image most will conjure will always be that horrible September morning, in the pre-dawn hours of Munich, when he told us that the Israeli hostages were, in a moment that still to this day bleeds of pain and compassion, "all gone".
I've always found irony in that fact it was his job was to deliver that unthinkable news to the world, when eight years later, his job was to bite his tongue and not report the news. Not give away the result of the tape-delayed game he had to introduce. Because despite the celebration going on out the window behind him, it wasn't his place to tell you the U.S. Hockey Team just beat the Soviets, he knew that story you'd rather watch for yourself.
But his legacy, his broadcasting immortality was made in Munich. And while "they're all gone" remain three of the most important words ever spoken on live television, the pre-cursor, his final words before facing the camera, and the world to break the news, were just as poignant. "My father always told me," he said at that moment. "That our greatest hopes and our worst fears are seldom realized."
And while he'll always be remembered for that instant, when our worst fears truly were, there seems no better time to remember where we all are tonight. The NBA, your Celtics, the Lakers. Back in the NBA Finals.
It's not just the worst fears that can be realized. And enjoying that is one final gift he gave us.
Life has a funny way of reminding you once in a while of the little things like that. Of the fact that tonight when I take my seat to call Game 3 of the NBA Finals, that I can think about Jim McKay, and ABC Sports and my father, and the fact that the last basketball game he and I watched together, was the final game of the Celtics-Lakers NBA Finals in 1984, the night the guy who'll take that seat next to me tonight, told his teammates to climb on his back.
An exceptionally inconsequential piece of human interest minutiae.
But I bet if Jim McKay was in charge of telling the stories tonight, he'd know it.
There are times I fear the way he told stories will become a lost art forever. There are times I fear the notion of actually caring about sports, being passionate about it, will just go out of style. And there are times, a lot of times really, I fear the humanity he epitomized, the very best part of sports, the reason we've devoted so much of our lives and our selves to it, will evaporate in the bile of soulless sportsradio, message-board snark.
But then I remember...our worst fears are seldom realized.
Jim McKay taught me that.
And tonight, as we're all immersed in this dream of an NBA Finals one year removed from a 24-win, lottery losing season?
I guess our greatest hopes sometimes are.