Broadcaster of the Week: Joe Tait, Cleveland Cavaliers
Posted Dec 20 2006 12:14PM
JOE TAITíS TOP 5 CAVS MOMENTS
After 35 years with Cleveland (37 years in the NBA in total), Iím happy to say that Iím still behind the mike and enjoying the opportunity to bring the great game of basketball to Cavs fans wherever they may be. Iíve been in the league one year longer than Al McCoy of the Phoenix Suns, the second longest tenured broadcaster in the league, although he has been with that franchise one year longer than I have been with the Cavs. I actually did one-year stints with the New Jersey Nets and Chicago Bulls during the Ted Stepien-Cavaliers regime.
During my NBA broadcasting career, I have obviously seen a lot of great basketball. Here are my all time top five Cavalier moments:
1. April 22, 1976 at the Coliseum - Cavs 92, Washington 91: Jim Cleamons outrebounded Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld for the game-winning basket giving the Cavaliers a 3-2 edge in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Semifinals.
2. April 29, 1976 at the Coliseum - Cavs 87, Washington 85: Dick Snyderís field goal with four seconds remaining defeated the Bullets four games to three in the so-called ďMiracle at Richfield.Ē Unfortunately the magical ride ended when the Cavs lost to the Celtics in six games with a chance to go to the Finals.
3. Jan. 29, 1980 at the Coliseum - Cavs 154, Lakers 153 in (4-OT): Bill Willoughby guarded Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the final overtime and the reserves refused to lose.
4. May 10, 1992 at the Boston Garden - Cavs 114, Boston 112 (OT): The Cavs big four of Larry Nance (32 points), Mark Price (26 points and 12 assists), Brad Daugherty (21 points) and Hot Rod Williams (18 points) stepped up enabling the Cavaliers to tie the Eastern Conference Semifinals at two games a piece. The Cavaliers then went on to win that series before losing to Chicago in six.
5. Jan. 21, 1995 at McNichols Sports Arena - Cleveland 101, Denver 100 (2-OT): It was the last game of a tough six-game Western trip and Mark Price, Terrell Brandon and Tyrone Hill were all out. Gary Briggs, the Cavaliers trainer, dubbed the team the ďNasty NineĒ and Steve Colter scored the game-winner on a tip-in with 0:00.2 seconds to go in the second overtime.
Throughout my career, in addition to the great basketball moments that Iíve witnessed, Iíve also been fortunate to cover and interact with some great individuals who I have a soft spot for. A point guard by the name of Bobby Washington who played with the Cavs very early in their history is one who stands out despite the fact that the Cavs werenít playing very good basketball in those days. Mark Price is another who obviously was one of the finest point guards that I have ever seen on our team or any other team for that matter. Our current center, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, is a man who has played through more foot injuries than any one human being should ever have to endure and has persevered, now playing in his 11th season. And certainly the late Bobby Phils who was killed in an automobile accident was a terrific person.
If I have to pick one person, my favorite all-time Cavalier basketball player was Danny Ferry which often is a great shock to a lot of people because Danny was never a superstar in NBA. He came to us on the Cleveland end of the Ron Harper deal which was not a fan favorite at the time, and he immediately ended up on the end of Lenny Wilkensí bench. He had bad knees from playing on concrete in Italy for a year. But rather than just sit there and collect his big bucks and do nothing, he would come down late at night with his fiancťe (who is now his wife) to the Coliseum in Richfield, and later to the Q in Cleveland, and shoot. She would rebound for him and he would work and work and work. He eventually built himself into a steady NBA player.
The one year that we had all the injuries, Mike Fratello called upon him to play significant minutes and he responded extremely well. But the work ethic was the thing that really impressed me. He was determined to make something out of himself as a ballplayer and he did, evidenced by the fact that he played 13 years in the league. Now as the Cavs General Manager, I donít think his work ethic has changed a bit.
Those are the guys that pop into my mind off the top of my head, but in 37 years in the league, I am sure that I am missing a few. I guess I have remembered the really good guys more than the great players, which weíve also had a lot of over the years. Then again, itís hard for me to even remember my name sometimes these days.
Thirty seven years certainly is a long time to be broadcasting and I have told guys that work with me that the day they donít think I am doing the job anymore, just pick up a two-by-four, wrap me over the head, and send me home. Sometimes the play-by-play guy himself does not realize when he has lost his fastball, and I donít want to be that guy. The Cavs owner, Mr. Gilbert, has told me that the job is mine as long as I want it and that I am the only one that can determine when I am through. That was very nice of him, but I hope there are guys who will tell me when I should pack it up and go home. Right now, however, I still seem to be doing the job so I guess as long as I can do that adequately or better, Iíll continue.
Returning for this 35th year as the Cleveland Cavalier broadcaster, radio play-by-play man Joe Tait has become one of the most recognizable voices in the NBA. Known for his catchphrase, "It's basketball time at the Coliseum" (and the Cavs subsequent name changes to Gund Arena and Quicken Loans Arena), Tait also served as the radio play-by-play voice of the WNBA's Cleveland Rockers from 1997 to 2003. In addition, Tait was named Vice President of Broadcast Services for the Cavs in 1987 which has kept him involved in all aspects of the Cavs radio and television broadcasting. For his numerous years of work behind the mike, Tait has received numerous awards including Sportscaster of the Year in Ohio (1974, '76, '78, '91, '96, '99, 2002 and '04) and was inducted into the Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1992..