Southern California

The Story of Legendary Broadcasters Chick Hearn and Bob Miller, Immortalized Side-By-Side Forever

Legendary broadcasters Chick Hearn and Bob Miller will be immortalized forever outside Staples Center, but did you know there could not have been one without the other?

Two legendary broadcasters, side by side forever. 

Over the course of the 21st century, Staples Center has become a museum for the illustrious history of the Los Angeles Lakers and L.A. Kings.

Gold statues of the gilded gods of Southern California hockey and basketball such as Wayne Gretzky, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West, Shaquille O'Neal, and Luc Robitaille are scattered around the area outside of Staples Center known as "Star Plaza."

However, amongst the gods of athletic achievements, stand two mere mortals. Two men, forever linked by friendship and fate. Two men who will never be known for their stats or championships, but for their voices and stories. 

Those men are broadcasters Chick Hearn and Bob Miller. 

Hearn was the first broadcaster to ever be enshrined in bronze back in April of 2010, when the legendary Lakers' play-by-play announcer was given a posthumous statue in Star Plaza. 

Hearn called 3,338 consecutive Laker games between 1965 and 2001, and will forever be known for his catch phrases: "slam dunk," "the mustard came off the hot dog," and the "Jell-o is jiggling!"

Hearn died in 2002, and Miller, one of his closest and dearest friends was at the funeral. Little did he know, that nearly 16 years later, he too would have a statue in Star Plaza alongside his friend and fellow broadcaster. 

Miller retired at the end of the 2016-2017 season for the L.A. Kings, and the franchise paid tribute to their longstanding play-by-play announcer by erecting a statue in his honor less than a year later. 

On Saturday, just before the crosstown rival Anaheim Ducks took the ice against the Kings, the team immortalized the legacy of Miller with a statue next to Hearn in Star Plaza, followed by a a banner that was raised to the rafters, joining the likes of other retired stars, Gretzyky, Robitaille, Rob Blake, Rogie Vachon, Marcel Dionne, and Dave Taylor. 

Miller, 79, received the ceremonial honor in humble fashion, saying that, "Nobody starts their career saying, 'I'll have a statue outside of Staple Center,'" and mentioned that what makes it special is that the statue and banner "are permanent."

What makes this extra special for Miller, in an almost poetic sort of way, is that if it wasn't for Hearn, he would have not been hired to be the Kings' broadcaster in the first place. 

"That means a lot to me because Chick, as I said, recommended me for the job 44 years ago and I always told people, I'm just sad that he's not here to see (the statue)."

Miller's career as a hockey announcer began in 1968 at the University of Wisconsin. At the time, the Badgers were only good at hockey and were only able to draw constant standing-room-only crowds in that sport, so the program director at the radio station that Miller worked in Madison made him the voice of that team. 

When the Kings's original announcer, Jiggs McDonald, left for the expansion Atlanta Flames in 1972, Miller sought the job and was backed by Hearn's recommendation. Kings owner Jack Kent Cooke hired California Golden Seals announcer Roy Storey instead. 

While Miller got to call his Badgers winning the 1972-73 NCAA championship, Storey was fired after one year on the job. Cooke then headed Hearn's advice, 39 years later, Miller was on hand to call the Kings winning their first Stanley Cup in 2012 and their second in 2014. 

"I think he'd be very proud of the guy that he picked was here for 44 years," Miller said on Hearn.

Miller's accolades include the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award, given to members of the television and radio industries for outstanding contributions to their profession and hockey, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and membership in the halls of fame of the Kings and Southern California Sports Broadcasters Association.

When asked what Cooke would say if he was still around to see the ceremony, Miller responded with his best imitation, "Dear boy, what did you ever do to deserve a statue." 

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