Remembering A Lakers' Legend
2010-11 by Jim Hill
This year, the Los Angeles Lakers are pleased to have long-time local sportscaster Jim Hilll share some of his stories about the broadcasting icon. Hill, a former NFL player and current CBS 2 Sports Director, has combined his talents as a broadcaster, his experience on the playing field and his relationships as a reporter to produce precise sports coverage for more than three decades in Los Angeles. An award-winning broadcaster, Hill, who began at CBS 2 in 1976, has been honored with an Associated Press "Best Sportscast" trophy, six awards for Best Sportscast and Best Reporting from the Los Angeles Press Club, four awards for Best Sports from the California Associated Press Television and Radio Association, has been awarded an Emmy, a nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and received a "Best Sports Reporting" award from United Press International (UPI).
A member of the board of directors for the Los Angeles Urban League, the Magic Johnson Fundraiser for the United Negro College Fund and the Grossman Burns Center, Hill is also an advisory board member for the Boy Scouts of America, the official spokesperson for the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks and is a member of the State of California Governor's Board for Physical Fitness and Sports and the President's Council for Physical Fitness. Having served as chair of Los Angeles County's "Just Say No" anti-drug program, chair of the Watts Summer Games and president of Athletes for Kids, on May 9, 2006, his star was unveiled on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Since buying the Lakers in 1979, Jerry Buss has made hundreds of decisions that have had a positive impact on the city of Los Angeles. One that ranks at the top of this truly extensive list was making sure Chick Hearn was always the voice, and even for a while, the face of the franchise. While it has now been eight years since we lost Chick and the gift of his voice, we certainly have not forgotten the man whose mic is retired and hanging high above the court at STAPLES Center.
Jim Hill interviewing Chick Hearn with Shaquille O'Neal before the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center on March 29, 2002. Over the years, people have described Chick in many different ways, all of them complementary. To follow are just a few of my memories of the man who, before working in Los Angeles, I only knew as the "Voice of the Lakers" and the best at what he did.
After meeting him, I soon found out that he was so very much more.
You see, for as great of an announcer as he was, he was an even better husband, father, family man and friend.
As for me, I was lucky enough to fall into the category of friend. From my earliest days working in Los Angeles, I looked up to Chick. Years ago, I remember asking him for advice on how to become a pretty good sportscaster. His answer was what we've all come to know as typical Chick.
"Good? Hell, why not shoot for the best?!?."
After a moment, he followed his point with a surprising piece of philosophy, "But remember to thine own self, be true."
...something I'm still working on to this day.
Many thought the Lakers were Chick's first love, but oh no. It was always his wonderful wife, Marge; the only person who could tell him to shut up and he'd do it!
One day at the Forum while having dinner with the two of them, he and I were talking about what it takes to have a successful relationship. And like it was yesterday, I remember him saying, "Jimmy, it's like Bill Cosby says, 'They are always right and we are always wrong and the sooner you find that out, the better off you will be.'" And then he added, "But that may take you a long time to figure out!"
...something else I'm still working on!
Through the years, I found Chick was just like the players; working on his game during the offseason in order to come up with something new and insightful for the next year. To which reminds me of a plaque I have on my desk that says, 'The man who has no imagination stands still and he cannot fly.'
And one time, when I quoted that to Chick, I remember him saying, "You know, Jimmy, there may be some hope for you yet!"
I know how lucky I am to have had the kind of relationship with Chick that I did. But I also know how lucky we all are to have had him in our lives to give us his honest opinion, criticism, praise, humor and love for all those years.
The great philosopher Aristotle once wrote, 'Excellence is not a singular act but a habit, you are what you repeatedly do.'
And somehow I can't help but think that even though he wrote those words centuries ago, the gods in the heavens knew that one day that saying would apply to Chick, who has taught us all to keep the faith.
And because of my relationship with him, I don't know about being a better sportscaster, but I do know I am a better man.
And I can hear him saying from up above, 'What the hell took so long to figure it out?'
That's Chick for you.