Francis Dayle „Chick” Hearn (November 27, 1916August 5, 2002) was an American sportscaster. Known primarily as the long-time play-by-play announcer for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association, Hearn is remembered for his rapid fire, staccato broadcasting style, inventing colorful phrases such as slam dunk, air ball, and no harm, no foul that have become common basketball vernacular, and for broadcasting 3,338 consecutive Lakers games starting on November 21, 1965. Hearn had missed the Lakers’ game the previous night after having been stranded in Fayetteville, Arkansas by inclement weather after having announced a college football game there. Even that was only Hearn’s second missed assignment for the Lakers since he had become the team’s broadcaster in March of 1961. He would not miss another until the end of 2001.

Of note is that 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.

Hearn grew up in Aurora, Illinois near 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.

On May 9, 1991 Hearn became the third broadcaster to be inducted into Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. In 1995 he was voted to be the 20th member of the American Sportscaster Hall of Fame by his fellow sportscasters.

Hearn’s streak of 3,338 consecutive Lakers games came to an end midway through the 2001-02 season when he underwent cardiac bypass surgery. Hearn recovered from his illness and resumed broadcasting that season, receiving a standing ovation from the Staples Center crowd upon his return. His final game was Game 4 of the 2002 NBA Finals where the Lakers defeated the New Jersey Nets to win their third consecutive NBA championship. During the summer, Hearn suffered a fall at his Encino, California home, and struck his head causing serious injury.

Three days later, on August 5, 2002, Chick Hearn died of his injury. He was interred in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.

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 to Chick Hearn Court. This street currently runs alongside Staples Center‘s main entrance. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority further honored broadcaster by changing the name of the nearby Blue Line station to Pico-Chick Hearn.

Chick-isms

  • Air-ball: A shot that draws nothing but air.
  • (He sent that one back) Air-mail Special!: A strongly-blocked shot, often sent high into the stands.
  • Bloooows the layup! : Missed a very easy layup.
  • Boo-birds: Fans who boo their own team when they play badly.
  • (He did the) bunny hop in the pea patch: He was called for traveling.
  • (You could) call it with Braille: An easy call for an official, e.g. a blatant foul.
  • (He got) caught with his hand in the cookie jar: A reaching foul.
  • (The) Charity Stripe: The free-throw line.
  • (He’s got ‘em) covered like the rug on your floor: Really good one-on-one defense.
  • (They) couldn’t beat the Sisters of Mercy: The team is getting beat badly.
  • (They) couldn’t throw a pea into the ocean: The team’s shooting is really awful.
  • (It’ll) count if it goes …: A player that is fouled in the act of shooting. It go-o-o-oes! (if the shot is successful)
  • (That shot) didn’t draw iron: A shot which misses the rim, but hits the backboard.
  • Dime store score: A 10 to 5 score
  • Dribble-drive: A player drives the basket while dribbling.
  • Finger roll: A shot where the ball rolls off the shooter’s fingers.
  • (He) fly-swatted (that one): A shot blocked with force and authority.
  • Football score: A score resembling one often seen in a football game (e.g., 21 to 14).
  • (He threw up a) frozen rope: A shot with a very flat trajectory.
  • (We’re) high above the western sideline: Chick’s perch at the Fabulous Forum, from which he called his word’s eye views of the game.
  • Hippity-hops the dribble: A player dribbling the ball does a little hop step.
  • I’ll bet you an ice-cream: Hearn and Keith Erickson (his one-time color commentator) often bet ice creams on the outcome of a shot or game.
  • (He’s got) ice-water in his veins: When a player hits a clutch free-throw.
  • (It’s) garbage time: The (often sloppily-played) remainder of the game (after it’s in the refrigerator).
  • Give and Go: A player passes the ball, makes a quick cut, and receives a return pass.
  • (In & out,) heart-brrrreak!: A shot that appears to go in, but rattles off the rim and misses. Sometimes it went in so far you could read the Commissioner’s name from below.
  • He has two chances, slim and none, and slim just left the building: The player has no chance of success with this play.
  • If that goes in, I’m walking home: Similar to a prayer, when the opponent shoots a shot that is a prayer, a streak, or some amazing shot. (Usually on the road)
  • Leapin’ Lena: A shot made while the player is in the air and off balance.
  • (There are) lots of referees in the building, only three getting paid: The entire crowd acts as though they are the officials by disagreeing with a call.
  • The mustard’s off the hot dog: A player attempts an unnecessarily showy, flashy play which ends up in a turnover or is otherwise unsuccessful.
  • Nervous time: When the final moments of a game are pressure-packed.
  • 94-by-50 hunk of wood: Simply put, a basketball court’s dimensions. (Attacking 47 feet: The front court.)
  • No harm, no foul(no blood, no ambulance, no stitches): A non-call by an official when varying degrees of contact have occurred. More adjectives means the non-call was more questionable.)
  • Not Phi Beta Kappa: Simply put, not a smart play.
  • …Since Hector was a pup A very long time (e.g., the Lakers haven’t had the lead since Hector was a pup.)
  • He’s in the Popcorn Machine (with butter and salt all over him): Meaning that a defensive player got faked into the air by an offensive player’s pump fake.
  • (He’s) on him like a postage stamp: Very tight defense, simply put.
  • Slam dunk!: Hearn’s most famous phrase; a powerful shot where a player forces the ball through the rim with one or both hands.
  • (He) takes him to the third floor and leaves him at the mezzanine: A move where an offensive player pump-fakes a defender and draws a foul from the leaping player.
  • Tattoo dribble: A player dribbling the ball while not moving, as though tattooing the floor with the ball, as he waits for the play to develop.
  • This game’s in the refrigerator: the door is closed, the lights are out, the eggs are cooling, the butter’s getting hard, and the Jell-O‘s jigglin’!: The game’s outcome is set; only the final score is in question.
  • Throws up a brick: When a player tosses up a particularly errant shot.
  • Throws up a prayer (… it’s answered!!!): A wild shot that will need a miracle to score (and does).
  • Ticky-tack: A foul called when very little contact has been made.
  • Triple-double: A player gets 10 or more (i.e. double digits) in three statistical categories: points, rebounds, assists, steals or blocked shots.
  • (On his) wallet: A player fell on his rear end.
  • Words-eye view: What listeners received while listening to Hearn call the game on the radio.
  • (He’s) working on his Wrigleys. A player is chewing gum.
  • (He’s) yo-yo-ing up and down: A player is standing there dribbling the ball up and down as if it was a yo-yo on a string.

Nicknames for Laker players

Source: Wikipedia