...the lights are out, the eggs are cooling, the butter's getting hard, and the jello's jiggling: Chick Hearn passed away today, at the age of eighty-five. He was the voice of the Lakers since they moved to Los Angeles, calling games for forty-two years, including a thirty-five year streak of 3,338 consecutive games between 1965 and 2001. He's credited with popularizing now-common phrases such as "slam dunk" and "air ball", and coined many other quips with his in-game repartee, such as "no harm, no foul" and "faked him into the popcorn machine".
I've been listening to Laker games called by Chick Hearn for longer than some of y'all have been alive, and for longer than I've known any of my current friends. He was not deeply important to me by any stretch, but was a broad presence, a part of the comfortable background noise of my life, for many many years. When I watched games on NBC and TNT in the nineties, I'd often mute the sound on the TV, and turn on the radio to hear his play-by-play. It will be a strange and discordant thing to watch the Lakers without him.