Swirsky (right) with one of his childhood idols, Bill Schonley.
Chucky Swirsky
It's an honor and privilege to be an NBA broadcaster. It's a love and passion. Not a job. Never has been and never will be. In my ninth year with the Toronto Raptors I am fulfilling a dream that started when I was a seven years old. I wanted to be an NBA play-by-play announcer. I grew up in Bellevue , Washington and at night I would listen on a transistor radio to Bill King call San Francisco/Golden State Warriors games ... Am I dating myself? That's right. No Internet. No walkman or MP3 downloads. A good old fashion transistor radio. That booming 50-thousand watt KGO signal made its way up to the Pacific Northwest easily. Nate Thurmond, Clyde Lee, Al Attles, Rick Barry were some of the stars.

When the Sonics arrived in 1967 I turned my allegiance over to the green and gold. I entered the "Name the Team" contest. I suggested "Kings" for King County where the city of Seattle resides. I did have the uniform colors down. Love that green, white and gold combo. Bob Blackburn became an instant fan favorite. To this day I respect the job Blackburn did calling play-by-play on KOMO. Bob is a class act and always has time for me when I return to Seattle.

Men such as Marv Albert, Joe Tait, Al McCoy and Ralph Lawler are institutions. In fact, just being in the same fraternity with them is incredible. Night after night they paint a beautiful picture. As a kid I memorized NBA names and colleges where they attended. I was determined that I would strive and do my best to reach the NBA knowing just a handful of broadcasters get the opportunity to call games at the professional level. My style is up tempo and enthusiastic. There is no difference from game No. 22 in San Antonio to game No. 58 in Milwaukee. Fans watching /listening deserve a professional, first-class performance night after night.

Having called play-by-play for DePaul University and the University of Michigan, I jumped at the chance to broadcast Raptors games starting in the lockout season of '98-99. I did not know the city of Toronto all that well. But my wife encouraged me to follow my heart and dream and I have never regretted the decision to move to Toronto. I love the city and the fan base. Canada loves its hockey but a new demographic survey shows more and more people are playing basketball. Toronto is a multi cultural, cosmopolitan city. Talk to any NBA player and they'll tell you they love the electricity of downtown Toronto.

Vince Carter put the franchise on the map. No question about it. I called him "Air Canada Carter" when he was here and for good reason. His breath taking dunks were spectacular on a nightly basis. But as is always the case, one chapter closes, another opens. President-GM Bryan Colangelo has changed the culture of this team over night. The Euro connection is solid with the addition of Jorge Garbajosa, Anthony Parker (American but two time Euro MVP) and the No. 1 pick Andrea Bargnani who is going to be a multiple All-Star. The kid is that good. The core group of Bargnani, All-Star Chris Bosh and the lightning quick T.J. Ford is solid and shows great promise for the future. Colangelo is a visionary and in my opinion is the reason there is hope in this city for a return to the playoffs in the not-so-distant future. His ability to lure Maurizio Gherardini away from Benetton Treviso was huge. Gherardini is a wonderful man who has thousands of contacts throughout the basketball world. Veteran executive Wayne Embry is in the front office as well and all you have to do is spend a short amount of time with him and you'll be impressed with his wisdom and common sense values.

My first NBA play-by-play game was in Boston on Feb. 6, 1999. The Raps beat Boston as Kevin Willis scored 28 points and grabbed 16 rebounds. Remember, I came from a college background so a road win is huge. The pros is a different story. After the game on the charter flight to Washington, DC I was so pumped. Willis walked to the back of the plane, noticed my exuberance and said,"Chuck, remember we have 49 to go!" That put things in proper perspective.

My favorite Raptor moment was Game 5 of the 2001 NBA Playoffs when the Raptors beat the Knicks at MSG to advance to the second round against Philadelphia. Alvin Williams hit a big-time shot to seal the deal. Based on what is developing here in Toronto I think it's safe to save many more memories are to come.

One more thing, if you have a desire as I did of becoming involved in the NBA as an announcer I recommend the following: develop your own style that is comfortable for you, hit the books, get practical training and be prepared to make sacrifices. There is no substitution for hard work. Keep the dream alive and go for it!

Thank you for allowing me to be apart of your NBA world. You can e-mail me at cswirsky@torontoraptors.com

Thank you for reading. It's been a pleasure.

Chuck Swirsky, the voice of the Raptors, enters his ninth season handling play-by-play duties. In addition to his work as the team's play-by-play announcer, Swirsky hosts his own radio program, The Chuck Swirsky Show weekdays. from 1-4 p.m. on Toronto's all-sports radio FAN590.