Chick Hearn
Hearn in 1963
Francis Dayle Hearn

(1916-11-27)November 27, 1916
DiedAugust 5, 2002(2002-08-05) (aged 85)
Resting placeHoly Cross Cemetery
Occupation(s)Sportscaster and assistant general manager
Years active1957–2002
SpouseMarge Jeffers (m. 1938–2002; his death)

Francis Dayle "Chick" Hearn (November 27, 1916 – August 5, 2002) was an American sportscaster who was the play-by-play announcer for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association for 41 years, as well as the team's assistant general manager for seven years beginning in 1972. Hearn is remembered for his rapid fire, staccato broadcasting style, associated with colorful phrases such as slam dunk, air ball, and no harm, no foul that have become common basketball vernacular. Hearn broadcast 3,338 consecutive Lakers games starting on November 21, 1965.[1] Most of Hearn's games in the television era were simulcast on both radio and television, even after most teams chose to use different announcers for the different media.

Life and career

Early life and nickname

Hearn was born in Buda, Illinois and raised in Aurora, Illinois, in west suburban Chicago, and attended high school at Marmion Academy and college at Bradley University. He earned the nickname "Chick" while an Amateur Athletic Union basketball player at Bradley, when teammates played a prank on him: giving him a shoebox to see his surprised reaction when he opened it and found not sneakers inside, but instead a dead chicken.[1]

He and his wife Marge were married August 13, 1938. They had two children, a son, Gary, and a daughter, Samantha, both of whom predeceased Hearn.[1] Marge Hearn died January 30, 2016, at the age of 98.[2]

Broadcasting streak

Hearn's broadcasting streak began on November 21, 1965. Hearn missed the Lakers' game the previous night after having been stranded in Fayetteville, Arkansas, by inclement weather after having announced a game between Arkansas and Texas Tech. Even that was only Hearn's second missed assignment for the Lakers since he had become the team's broadcaster in March 1961. He would not miss another until December 16, 2001. Over the course of the streak, Hearn was paired with several different color commentators, including ”Hot” Rod Hundley, Pat Riley, Keith Erickson, Dick Schad, Lynn Shackelford and Stu Lantz.

Hearn's streak of 3,338 consecutive Lakers games came to an end on December 16, 2001, in order to undergo scheduled cardiac bypass surgery. Hearn recovered from his surgery, but in February 2002, he suffered a broken hip after falling at a gas station,[3] which further delayed his expected return to the Lakers broadcast booth. Hearn recovered from both issues and resumed broadcasting on April 9, 2002, receiving a standing ovation from the Staples Center crowd upon his return.[4] His final broadcast was for the Lakers' radio feed of Game 4 of the 2002 NBA Finals where the Lakers defeated the New Jersey Nets to win their third consecutive NBA championship. His final Lakers-affiliated appearance was as the emcee of the team's 2002 championship parade in June.[5]

Assistant general manager

Hearn became assistant general manager of the Lakers in 1972, hired by Jack Kent Cooke, the team's owner at the time. Hearn advised management on personnel and trades, and helped negotiate player contracts as part of the role which he held for seven years.[6][7] Hearn advised team owner Cooke to draft future hall of fame player Magic Johnson in 1979.[8]

Non-Lakers work

Hearn was the long-time host of Bowling for Dollars on KTLA (1972–1976); KHJ-TV (now KCAL-TV) (1978). He called the closed-circuit television broadcast of the first Ali-Frazier fight in 1971. He also did boxing commentary for Forum boxing fights in Inglewood in the 1980s, usually appearing alongside former featherweight contender Ruben Castillo.[9] Hearn also contributed to KCAL-TV's coverage of the U.S. Open golf tournament from 1957 to 1964. At the time, Hearn handled the sports desk of the local news program on Los Angeles' NBC affiliate, KRCA (now KNBC). Hearn announced USC football and basketball games from 1956 to 1961,[10] and also served as the play-by-play broadcaster for USC football games on tape-delayed, syndicated telecasts during the 1973 season. Hearn called UNLV Runnin' Rebels basketball games on KHJ/KCAL with Ross Porter from 1986 to 1990.[11] During the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, Hearn called the play-by-play for USA Men's Basketball games on the pay per view Olympics Triplecast "Red" channel.[9]

Television and movie work


Hearn can be heard on the Pink Floyd album The Wall (at the 4:07 mark of the song "Don't Leave Me Now" as "Pink" flips through television channels just before destroying his television set leading into the song "Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 3"). This clip of Hearn appears to have been taken from an actual game between the Lakers and Bulls which was probably recorded during the 1978–79 season. Before the playoffs in the 1986 season, Hearn released a 12-inch rap single "Rap-Around".[12] The song features Hearn in the studio re-creating many of his most famous 'Chickisms' and was distributed by Macola Records (who distributed an early Dr. Dre/Ice Cube group "World Class Wreckin' Cru").[13] The song was played on Los Angeles TV and radio stations, including the Lakers' televised games .[12]


During the summer of 2002, Hearn suffered a fall at his home in Encino, California, and struck his head causing serious injury. Three days later, on August 5, 2002, he died of his injury. He was 85. He was interred in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California, next to his son Gary and his daughter Samantha.[1] Chick and Marge would have celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary on August 13, 2002.[1]


Statue of Chick Hearn, 2018-07-20, at Staples Center

On May 9, 1991, Hearn became the third broadcaster to win the Gowdy Award from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. He later became the first broadcaster elected to the Hall in 2003.[14] In 1995, he was voted to be the 20th member of the American Sportscaster Hall of Fame by his fellow sportscasters. He was inducted by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame in 1997.

In honor of his contributions to the Los Angeles Lakers, both the Lakers and the city of Los Angeles renamed a portion of West 11th Street between Figueroa Street and Georgia Street (now L.A. Live Way) to Chick Hearn Court. This street currently runs alongside Arena's main entrance. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority further honored the broadcaster by changing the name of the nearby A and E line station to "Pico-Chick Hearn" (this name change has since been reverted). His name was later hung from the rafters of the Staples Center, alongside the retired numbers of past Lakers players, though with a microphone in place of a number.

Hearn also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in radio. Hearn's star is located at 6755 Hollywood Blvd.

On April 27, 2010, Hearn was honored with a bronze statue at Star Plaza outside Staples Center.[15] A chair next to Hearn's statue behind the desk with the Lakers' logo is a part of the statue so his fans can sit down to have their pictures taken.

On-air style and demeanor

Hearn was notable for his focus on calling play-by-play. He did not chitchat while the game was in motion. He was able to report clearly and rapidly, which he considered a gift. This style was especially well-suited for his notable simulcasts of Lakers games on television and radio, which were a tradition during his 40-plus year tenure. He was especially appreciated on radio because listening to the broadcast was almost like watching the game. Shortly after Hearn's departure, the simulcasts were ended, with some listeners complaining that his successor, Paul Sunderland, was difficult to follow for radio listeners.[16] Sometimes this style made it difficult for his partners to get a word in edgewise; his seven-year color commentator, Keith Erickson, fondly reminisced at a ceremony commemorating Hearn: "Not being able to talk for eight years [as his partner], I thought this was a great opportunity to share a bit".[15] He was formal, always referring to the Lakers' former owner as "Mr. Cooke" and the owner for much of his tenure, Jerry Buss by his full title – Dr. Jerry Buss or Dr. Buss.


The particular phrases that Hearn used during his broadcasts were labeled "Chickisms". Many are staples of basketball.[17] When a book of his memoirs was published in 2004, it included an audio CD with the calls as well as a Chick Hearn Rap-Around rap song created with the samples.[18]

Nicknames for Lakers players

Memorable calls

And the crowd stands for Kareem to get the ball. Everybody's waving their's in to Kareem. Kareem swing left...right-hand twelve-footer...GOOD!

— -calling Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's NBA record 31,420th point, pushing him past Wilt Chamberlain as the league's all-time leading scorer.

The new king of scoring has ascended his throne.

— -Shortly after Kareem's record-breaking basket.

37–2, ladies and gentlemen. If you're just tuning in, no, I haven't been using any of the squeezing of the grape.

— -referring to the Lakers' colossal lead on the Sacramento Kings during the first quarter of a game between the teams on February 4, 1987.

To the left goes Magic...he's got it. He didn't shoot it...five seconds left. Magic down the middle, just what I thought. A hook shot at twelve, GOOD! Two seconds left! The Lakers take the lead on Magic Johnson's running sky-hook! Hooie!

— -calling Magic Johnson's "junior sky-hook" in Game 4 of the 1987 NBA Finals.

Kobe's down the middle, he's in deep. Throws to Shaq... SLA-A-AM DUNK! Portland can put the champagne away and get out the bottled water, 'cause that's all they're gonna drink on their way home!

— -calling the Lakers' comeback against the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals.


  1. ^ a b c d e Lakers broadcaster Chick Hearn dies at 85. Associated Press, August 16, 2002.
  2. ^ Marge Hearn dies at 98; widow of former Lakers announcer Chick Hearn Los Angeles Times January 31, 2016.
  3. ^ Penner, Mike; Stewart, Larry; Times, Los Angeles (6 August 2002). "CHICK HEARN 1916–2002 / Distinguished voice of Lakers silenced". SFGate.
  4. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: nonplayerzealot4. "Jazz @ Lakers, 2002 (Chick's return, Kobe hi-lites)" – via YouTube.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: BryantDunkGiant. "Mark Madsen's Speech At 2002 Lakers Championship Parade" – via YouTube.
  6. ^ Newman, Bruce (2015-08-04). "SI Vault: Remembering Chick Hearn, the Michelangelo of broadcasters". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2023-11-01.
  7. ^ McFadden, Robert D. (2002-08-07). "Chick Hearn, 85, the Voice Of the Los Angeles Lakers". The New York Times. Retrieved 2023-11-01.
  8. ^ MATSUMOTO, JON (1994-12-30). "Q&A; with CHICK HEARNS : Basketball's Fast-Talking Master Poet". The LA Times. Retrieved 2023-11-01.
  9. ^ a b "Chick Hearn: Remembering a Legend – Honors". Los Angeles Lakers.
  10. ^ "USC Annenberg Establishes Chick Hearn Scholarship Fund". Archived from the original on 2009-02-13. Retrieved 2008-05-09.
  11. ^ "Newswire". October 18, 1990.
  12. ^ a b Ostler, Scott (April 17, 1986). "Chick's Laker 'Rap' Will Surely Tweak Ears of Celtic Fans". Los Angeles Times.
  13. ^ "Macola Record Co". Discogs. Retrieved June 1, 2022.
  14. ^ "The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame – Hall of Famers". Archived from the original on 2009-08-31.
  15. ^ a b "Los Angeles Lakers unveil Chick Hearn statue at Staples Center". 21 April 2010.
  16. ^ "Lakers Simulcasts Are History". Los Angeles Times. 18 April 2003.
  17. ^ Rubin, Saul (2007). "You Know You're in California talk a good game". You Know You're in California When...: 101 Quintessential Places, People, Events, Customs, Lingo, and Eats of the Golden State. Globe Pequot. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-7627-3745-1.
  18. ^ Springer, Steve (2004). Chick: His Unpublished Memoirs and the Memories of Those Who Loved Him. Triumph Books. ISBN 1-57243-618-2.