Throughout the years, a man inexplicably plays a part in every major historical event. He experiences it all firsthand, and lives a life so incredible that strangers at the bus stop have a hard time believing him when he tells his story.
Meet Clippers Public Address Announcer David Courtney – the man whose real life story seems more like fiction than fact.
“I guess it’s kind of like Forrest Gump at times,” said Courtney, who has been a PA Announcer in the Los Angeles area since 1975. “I’ve been blessed to be able to experience so many different things.”
If you have been to a sporting event in Los Angeles over the last three decades, there is a pretty good chance that Courtney was there, too. Through all the big plays, the incredible performances, the championships – Courtney’s voice has been there for it all.
“I started out learning the craft when I was about 14 or 15,” Courtney said. ” I was a PR assistant – or gopher – for the Los Angeles Kings hockey team. Doing that, I got to meet John Ramsey, who was at the time basically the public address voice for everything in Los Angeles. Working the games, I was able to get to know John and understand some techniques from him. They would do kids’ games before the actual game and I would do those.”
After a few years with the Kings, Courtney would get a big opportunity – the chance to work a Lakers game. What are the odds he wouldn’t get a run of the mill, garden-variety NBA game right off the bat?
”I remember my first full-time NBA game was when I was 20 years old,” Courtney said. “It turned out to be the night there was the incident between Kermit Washington and Rudy Tomjanovich. You just saw Rudy T. running up and Kermit just turned and threw and flattened him with one punch.”
One of the landmark moments in NBA history – simply known as The Punch – and here was Courtney, with the assignment of keeping the peace in the arena.
“I was nervous and scared,” Courtney said. “Routine games, I had been able to do that. I had done high school basketball and other games from the press box. A situation like that, where it got totally out of hand – it was just scary. I wanted to make sure I got everything right. After the officials got everything calmed down they came over and said, ‘Here’s what we want you to announce.’ Nobody really knew at the time how scary the injury was.”
The memorable event turned out to be the first of many Courtney would announce throughout his time in sports.
“I was in Houston for about seven years. While I was there, I ended up getting the PA job for the Rockets,” Courtney said. “I became a regular for the Rockets when they had Hakeem Olajuwon, Ralph Sampson and Elvin Hayes. I worked with the Rockets for about four years, and then I moved back to Los Angeles and became the PR director for the Kings.”
Courtney’s timing couldn’t have been better. In 1988, the Kings made arguably the biggest trade in all of sports history when they acquired Wayne Gretzky.
“I was responsible for putting together the press conference,” Courtney said. “I must have written that press release at least ten times. The entire landscape of hockey changed with that trade. It was very overwhelming. I felt bad, but I tried to take as much advantage of it as I could. I ran Wayne ragged with interviews and requests we got for him. All of the sudden we went from having two newspapers who covered us to having 50 media requests a game. There was television from all over the country and certainly media from Canada. It was an amazing period of sports for Southern California.”
After dealing with one of the biggest moves in sports history, Courtney quickly decided that he wanted to be back in front of the microphone.
“A year later, I decided I needed to step down and let more people deal with it,” Courtney said.”I still wanted to be a part of the team, so I was able to stay on as the announcer. In 1989, I took on the Kings PA announcer job. That led to me becoming the announcer for the Angels in 1994. Then I ended up with the Clippers as one of my teams.”
Courtney has never been one to pass up an opportunity. As a result, he has seen the best the sports world has to offer.
“I’ve never been too proud to do any type of event,” Courtney said. “Being heard doing one thing has always led to another. I’ve been in and around championship moments. I went to the Stanley Cup in ’93 with the Kings; I was part of the World Championship with the Angels. I was a part of All-Star Weekend with the Clippers that got them that true national exposure. It’s an honor and a lot of fun to do it.”
As the current PA Announcer for the Clippers, Kings, and Angels, Courtney will continue to be the voice of the stadium, playing his role in sports history.
“I’ve been fortunate to do a lot more than someone should probably be allowed to,” Courtney said. “I’m very grateful for it.”
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