Bronze statue of Francis Chick Hearn at Staples Center. Photo by Prayitno via Flicker.
Bronze statue of Francis Chick Hearn at Staples Center. Photo by Prayitno via Flicker.

The Los Angeles Lakers marked Sunday’s 100th anniversary of the birth of their late longtime broadcaster Chick Hearn with a school supplies drive and presentation of two scholarships to USC broadcasting students.

“He’s part of what makes this organization so famous and so loved by fans,” Laker coach Luke Walton said before the game against the Atlanta Hawks at Staples Center. “I know he means a lot to a lot of people here in L.A.”

Walton said his father, Basketball Hall of Fame member turned broadcaster Bill Walton, “used to tell me all the time he grew up listening to Chick.”

Hearn was the Lakers play-by-play announcer from the start of their radio broadcasts during the 1961 NBA playoffs until his death in 2002. He coined many phrases, including slam dunk, which have transcended basketball into use in everyday life.

Hearn was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003.

“He was the best basketball announcer ever,” Lakers television play-by- play announcer Bill Macdonald said, citing Hearn’s passion for the game, delivery, cadence, humor, knowledge, love of the team and honesty.

“We were just all lucky to grow up listening to him.”

Since Hearn’s death in 2002, the Lakers have designated their home game closest to the Nov. 27 anniversary of his birth in 1916 as Chick Hearn Night.

The school supplies collected will benefit the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Homeless Education Program. There are more than 13,700 homeless students attending LAUSD schools, according to a district official.

Keely Eure and Jodee Storm Sullivan were introduced as the recipients of Chick Hearn Memorial Scholarship.

Eure is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and minoring in sports media studies. She said she hopes to cover college football and Major League Baseball after graduating.

Sullivan is a junior majoring in broadcast and digital journalism with a minor in narrative structure. She said she aspires to be a color commentator, host of her own sports show or a producer.

Hearn was the play-by-play announcer for USC football and basketball games in 1956-61.

—City News Service

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