February 24, 1951 - January 21, 2005
The loss of Don Poier has created a void from Memphis all the way to Washington State. In his all-too-brief life, Poier touched everyone he came across, whether it was a multi-millionaire player or an usher at the arena.
Of course, Poier is best known for being “the Voice of the Grizzlies”.
Poier was with the Grizzlies since day one of the franchise’s history, and brought to Grizzlies broadcasts knowledge of the team and passion for the game that was second to none.
When the Grizzlies moved to Memphis from Vancouver in 2001, Poier immediately became a fixture in Memphis. Fans who had never heard him call a game before instantly fell in love with his style. He was the team’s biggest supporter, but also unafraid to tell the truth if the team was playing poorly. It’s a fine line many broadcasters struggle with, but Poier did it perfectly, earning the respect of the players and the fans.
His catchphrases, which he always came up with on the spot, never failed to make listeners chuckle. His signature phrase, ‘Only in the movies and in Memphis’, was used regularly last season as the team embarked on its amazing 50-win season and playoff appearance. As one of the original Grizzlies, no one was more excited to be a part of last season’s magical ride than Don Poier, who had been through the highest of highs and lowest of lows with the Grizzlies.
Poier served exclusively as the team’s radio play-by-play announcer the past three seasons, but moved to television this season. He continued to do radio play-by-play for Grizzlies games that were not televised this season.
Previously, he spent more than 20 years as an announcer on regional telecasts of Pac10 football and basketball, including University of Washington
football. He also served as President of Runaway Entertainment, producers of regional and national television programming. He also gained national recognition when he served as the voice of EA Sports’ NBA Live video game from 1999 through 2003.
But Poier’s contributions in the broadcast booth were only the tip of the iceberg of a life that touched so many. Poier and his wife Barbara were the perfect couple. Barb came to every Grizzlies home game, and became as much a fixture at the arena as her husband. All the Grizzlies players knew her by name. She’d listen to his broadcasts then talk to him on the drive home about what worked and what didn’t (and with Poier, it was rare if something didn’t work).
Poier and Barb derived great pleasure from their blended family, which included Don’s three daughters, Barb’s five children and 10 grandchildren. Anytime he was asked about his family, his already beaming face lit up even more. Poier was the consummate family man, supporting them in their every endeavor and enjoying offseason road trips with Barb to pay them each a visit in their 36-foot Pace Arrow RV.
Although these were the immediate members of Poier’s family, by no means were they the only members.
Anyone who worked for the Grizzlies organization was a member of the Poier family. He made a point of introducing himself to everyone he didn’t know. After you met him for the first time, he greeted you with a hearty, “Hey Buddy!” every time thereafter. His large family grew to thousands as he recruited each fan who listened to his distinctive booming voice. Hearing of Poier’s passing, fans shared their loss on Grizzlies messageboards where one fan remarked, “he was the best friend we never knew”.
His spirit and generosity extended to the community. He was a fixture at Grizzlies community events, attending dozens of events on behalf of the Grizzlies every year. He was a member of Bellingham Boys and Girls Club in Washington State, and hosted a summer golf tournament in his home state of Washington.