A statue of legendary Lakers' broadcaster Chick Hearn sits outside of the Staples Center
Nov. 27 is the birthday of the greatest Laker of all time. No, it’s not Kobe Bryant, Jerry West, or Magic Johnson.
The greatest Laker of all time was a man from Aurora, Ill. Francis Dayle Hearn was his given name, but he went by the lovable nickname of “Chick.”
Chick not only watched every single minute of Lakers basketball from Nov. 21, 1965 to Dec. 20, 2001; his ability to explain every minute detail with enthusiasm enriched the imaginations of millions of basketball fans across Los Angeles and the world.
Over his 36-year streak as the voice of the Los Angeles Lakers, Chick covered Lakers greats such as West, Wilt, Elgin, Kareem, Magic, Worthy, Kobe, and Shaq. Chick didn’t just watch the games, he brought the games to life.
He was the Lakers' play-by-play announcer for the simulcast, meaning he was the voice of the Lakers on the radio and on television at the same time. The necessity to describe every detail to radio listeners enriched the viewing experience for television viewers because Chick saw the game with more color than any television could possibly display.
Chick’s place in Lakers history and basketball history is impossible to refute. He is the only non-player with a jersey in the Lakers' rafters. He also has the only non-athlete statue outside Staples Center. He is credited with coining terms and phrases that go well beyond basketball: “slam dunk,” “air-ball,” “no-look pass,” “finger roll,” “give and go,” “ticky-tack foul,” “no harm, no foul,” “throws up a brick,” “throws up a prayer,” and countless others.
For fans who grew up listening to Chick, there was one phrase above all others that every Lakers fan patiently waited for to signal the ball game was decided, even if the final score was not: “This game’s in the refrigerator, the door’s closed, the light’s out, the eggs are cooling, the butter’s getting hard, and the Jell-O’s jiggling.”