Chick left this world in August 2002. I heard the news while on vacation at Lake
Tahoe, and it first made me very sad on that day. Then I remembered all the games
I was fortunate enough to hear him call, and I was happy for all the memories.
In my opinion, Chick Hearn is the greatest pro basketball announcer ever,
and he was voted California's sports-caster of the year in February 1995.
He had a streak of calling 3,338 consecutive Lakers games,
between Nov. 21, 1965 and December 16, 2001.
consecutive game was
Jan 19, 1998.
In the '50s he was the local sportscaster in Peoria, Illinois,
and was the voice of Bradley University and the Peoria Caterpillars.
Born Francis Dayle Hearn, the Aurora, Ill.,
native began his Lakers broadcasting career in 1961.
He has invented many descriptive phrases, called Chick-isms.
Also, Chick was the first to describe the distance of a shot in feet.
Here is a list and definition for many of them.
Air mail special
A shot that is fly-swatted right back at the shooter.
Attacking 47 feet (of this 94x50 hunk of wood)
The front-court, the offensive zone.
Baby hook (or Jr Jr Skyhook)
Magic's hook shot.
Bob and Weave
Elgin Baylor moving.
Fans who boo their own team when they play badly.
(Call it with) Braille
An easy call for an official, e.g. a blatant foul.
Building a House
When a player tosses up a series of "bricks" during the course of a game.
Bunny hop (in the pea patch)
Traveling, (in the lane).
Camping in the lane
A player who spends a lot of time in the lane without getting called for a
Can't throw a pea in the ocean
This team is shooting horribly.
Can't throw a pie in an oven
Somebody made a bad pass.
Caught with his hand in the cookie jar
Reaching in, got called for a foul.
Chicken Stew (Chick & Stu)
Used whenever somebody else is eating well as in "down in the clubhouse they're
eating Mrs. Johnson's home cooking... up here we've got Chicken Stew"
(He's) colder than a delicatessen turkey.
A player or team is shooting really badly.
Combing their hair
When the team isn't hustling, they are standing around under the basket combing
Alley-oop to Michael Cooper.
A shot where a player spins while going up to take the shot.
Also called a Makeup call, a questionable call by the referee
to even out a previous questionable call that went the other way.
(He) Could shower in a rifle barrel.
Used to describe a player who's real thin.
(He) Couldn't guard his suitcase at the train station.
A player is really doing a poor job defending another player.
(Got em') covered like a rug on your floor
Really close, tight defense.
(It'll) Count if it goes...
it goes! (it doesn't go)
A player is fouled in the act of shooting... and makes the shot. A player
gets off the shot before time expires.
Daylight in the pivot
Meaning there can be no hand checking inside the free throw lane.
Defense on vacation
Very bad defense, as if they weren't even there.
Didn't draw iron
A shot which misses the rim, but hits the backboard.
Dime Store Score
10 to 5.
Don Nelson Shot
The shot hits the heel of the rim, bounces straight up and then goes in. Don
Nelson beat the Lakers in 1969 at the end of game 7 this way.
Does he travel?-no Does he pump fake and score ?-Yes
When a shooter appears to travel during a pump fake move to scoring a basket.
Don't Hurt No More
When the trainer is attending to a hurt player, he sprays some "Don't
Hurt No More" on the area to deaden the pain.
Drive to the basket while dribbling.
A player goes up high to take a shot. The call is like West drives left,stops,
fakes, has Frazier on the elevator... Frazier off at three, West off at five........
Faked the floperoo
An attempt by a defender to draw a charging foul, usually one which is disdained
by the refs.
Named after a shot Wilt used to shoot early in his career.
A shot where the ball rolls off the shooter's fingers.
A shot blocked with a lot of force and authority.
A score commonly found in football, 14-7, 21-14, etc.
Four Point Switch
One team misses an easy layup, and the other team rebounds and scores quickly.
A shot with a very flat trajectory.
A player picks up a loose ball that luckily is close by and has an easy shot.
The remainder of the game, after it's in the refrigerator.
Give & go
Give the ball to a team-mate & cut to the basket.
(The) good lord and four disciples couldn't beat the Lakers tonight.
The Lakers are playing unbelievibly well.
(Cazzie's) goin' to the bank again!
For Cazzie Russell, who had a great bank-shot.
Going to the southern goal to our right.
Going left to right across your radio dial.
Chick is telling you the direction the team is bringing the ball into the
attacking 47 feet of this 94x50 hunk of wood.
(He) got off on the 20th floor, but the ball got off on the 10th floor
when someone goes up for a slam on the fly and loses the ball.
Hands it off like a T-formation quarterback
Just like it says, one player hands the ball to the other.
Hanging out to dry
(prefaced by "so and so left him") When someone fakes a defender out of his
shoes. Not quite as severe as in the popcorn machine.
Hangs in the air
Used to describe hanging shots by Elgin Baylor, Michael Jordan, Dr. J., etc.
Hard had and lunch pail
Used to described a hard-working player.
(In & out,) Heart-brrrreak!
A shot that appears to go in, but rattles off the rim & misses.
He could be defender of the year - if everyone else dies.
A terrible defensive player.
He has two choices, slim and none (and Slim just left town).
The player has no chance of success with this play.
He's human after all.
When a player is on a streak and finally misses.
He picked his man up at the bus station.
Someone was playing really tight defense on his assigned man.
He's not a happy camper.
A bad call was made and a player got upset.
He shot that from way out yonder.
A real long 3-point shot attempt.
He thought he made it and so did I.
When someone shoots a good looking shot, but it misses.
A very arching shot, the opposite of a frozen rope.
High School Hideout
A player who is cherry-picking (waiting around mid-court for a break-away).
Dribbling the ball, while running with a hip-hop step.
(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.
If he hit his wife that hard, she wouldn't even call the police.
If that comes down it's a "T".
When a player slams the ball on the ground after a call he didn't like.
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)
If there's really 18,000 here tonight, a lot of them are dressed like
When the attendance is announced, but a lot of the fans have stayed home.
If you are just tuning in, I am not a jockey.
Coming back to TV after a commercial break, he would be standing next to a
tall player he would interview.
Jr Jr Skyhook
Magic's hook shot. Most famous shot was in 1987 finals vs Boston.
Jumped so high, his head came down wet
A player jumped really high, like into the clouds.
When a player over-commits trying to intercept a pass, and gets burned. Or
goes down the smokestack.
Keys on the piano keyboard
When the score is tied at 88, the number of keys on a piano.
(He) Kicked him in the wallet...and he's got a thick wallet!
Kicked him in the rear, and he's well-paid.
King Kong on a ladder
When the pass or shot is very high and out of reach.
A leaping shot in the lane, falling toward the basket.
(They're )like refried beans on the stove--they're always hot.
This team is on a roll.
Lots of referees in the building (, only 3 getting paid.)
The fans in the crowd are booing a call that they disagree with. They are
acting as if they are the refs.
Poor defense in which the lane opens up for a driving player like a matador
pulling his cape out of the way of a charging bull.
(Like a) Motorcycle in a motordrome (velodrome)
When the ball spins around the rim several times before going in or rimming
My grandmother could guard him, and she can't go to her left
someone who wasn't playing good defense
My grandmother could have made that shot
A real easy shot that was missed, similar to can't throw a pea in the
Nailed to the floor
A player drives past a defender who does not move at all.
When the game's in the pressure cooker.
Next time he should bring his luggage
When an obvious traveling violation is called and then argued by the violator.
94x50 hunk of wood
The dimensions of a basketball court.
No harm, no foul (, no blood, no ambulance)
A non-call by an official when significant contact has occurred.
A pass made to another player without looking at him.
Not a smart play.
Number two stall in the barn
Second to the innermost slot along the key during a free-throw.
On him like a postage stamp
Very close tight defense.
Picked his pocket
A steal so quick the victim didn't even see it happen.
Picks the garbage (and put it in the trashcan)
A player picks up a loose ball that luckily is close by and has an easy shot.
When a player is faked out badly, he's put in the popcorn machine, which
is so far off the court and out of the play. A defender jumps to block
a faked shot, he gets faked so far out of the play, (the popcorn machine
in the lobby) leaving the resulting shot wide open. There was actually
a popcorn machine near the goal posts in the Sports Arena, hence the reference.
A defender who is so faked out he's bouncing up and down trying to block
the shot, like a kernel popping in a popcorn machine.
(In the) Pressure cooker
A situation when the game is in the balance; e.g. a player at the free throw
line, his team down, 30 seconds left, etc....
Put the baby to bed
A soft lay-up.
(The game's in the) Refrigerator
(the door's closed, the light's out, the eggs are cooling, the butter's getting
hard, and the jello's jiggling)
The game is out of reach. (Sometimes says The game's in the Admiral.)
Sends it back air-mail special.
A shot blocked with a great deal of intensity.
An outside shot with plenty of time to set up.
(he's) shaking off the salt and butter
He really got faked into the popcorn machine.
(The Lakers') shooting leaves a lot to be desired.
See can't throw a pea in the ocean.
Shot is straight as a string but didn't get it
Kind of like a frozen rope that missed.
shot a prayer, but it wasn't answered (even on Sunday).
A very low-percentage shot that missed.
...since Hector was a pup
A very long time ago, such as The Lakers haven't had the lead since
Hector was a pup.
...since they got off the bus
A very long time ago, such as The Lakers haven't been this close since
they got off the bus.
(they couldn't beat) the Sisters of Mercy
The Lakers are playing terribly.
(He) skies to get it
A player who leaps very high to grab a rebound or loose ball.
Kareem's shot from so high, no one could block it.
A dunk with authority, also Chick was the first to use the phrase "slam dunk".
Smelling like butter and salt
When a player gets really faked into the popcorn machine.
(He's) So slow, I saw him on an escalator yesterday and a step passed
Just like it says, he's real slow.
(The Lakers are) spending too much time refereeing.
The players are complaining too much about calls that didn't go their way.
(He has) Spalding (or the Commissioner's name) tatooed on his forehead!
somebody just recieved a serious, inyourface, shot rejection.
(The Lakers are) standing!
The players are standing around, irritating Chick greatly. (Rumor has it that
Chick had to be positioned away from the players bench as this bothered the
players and coaches).
(It's) Strong muscle time
You had to bang away in the low post to score.
Coined after a move patented by Archie Clark, a Laker in the late '60's.
Swallows the Whistle
The ref doesn't make an obvious call (No harm, no foul).
Swing left, shoot right
Picture Kareem's skyhook motion.
Dribbling the ball in the same spot, as to tattoo the floor.
Taken Magic's wand away
Magic was playing so bad that the opponent had taken his wand away.
Telegraphs a pass
The recipient of a "telegraphed" pass is so obvious, that the defender knows
which way to reach to block it. It's as if a telegraph message was sent to
the recipient in advance so that he would know that it was coming. The defender
picks up on this and can then block the pass.
threw a hot dog pass and the mustard came off and is all over the
A fancy play that went wrong.
threw it to the heavens and the gods kissed it.
made a tough basket
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... (it goes in!!)
That ball was so deep in the hole I could read the commissioners name
When a shot goes way in before bouncing out of the basket.
That'll get it done
(could be a Stu'ism but they both use it)
When a player's statistics as in FT% are acceptable.
They're so hot, they could put in Rin Tin Tin and he'd make a basket!
When a team is really shooting well.
They win the tip, that means they get the ball to start the fourth
Chick always says this to start the game because whoever wins the tip gets
possesion to start the 4th. The other team gets it to start the 2nd & 3rd.
They've got enough turnovers to open a bakery!
The team had turnover after turnover after turnover.
This is your World Champion Lakers' basketball network!
Chick's station ID when the Lakers were the world champs.
A foul called when very little contact has been made.
Saving a ball from going out-of-bounds with delicate balance.
the ball rolls around the rim, and then goes in (or out).
Took him to the third floor and left him at the mezzanine.
The offensive player pump faked the defender,(who leaps to block the shot)
and the player with the ball either goes up while the defender is coming down
and/or draws the foul and hits the shot. The offensive player has embarrassed
the defender who overplays for the block. Similar to the popcorn machine.
too much squeezin' the grape
Refers to drunk fans, who had too much wine (or whatever).
A player gets double figures in three statistical categories, usually points,
rebounds, and assists. Also could be steals or blocked shots, but these are
Jamaal Wilkes' shot from the base-line, as automatic as a layup.
The 24-second clock has been put to beddie-bye
This occurs at the end of a quarter when the game clock has less time remaining
on it than the 24-second clock; i.e. the only clock which is important on
the current play is the game clock.
The turnovers are coming like grapes: in bunches.
Lots of turnovers are happening.
They go to their bread and butter man, who also delivers ice.
A reliable player makes a clutch shot, under pressure.
Using the rim as an ally
A reverse lay-up using the rim as an obstacle against the defender.
(He's) Very even-tempered. Always mad.
Used to describe a player who's always mad about something.
(on his) Wallet
Butt, rear end, ass, ... (whatever)
We're high above the western sideline here in Chick's Nest at the
Fabulous Forum, the House that Jack built."
This is where he broadcast games at the Forum.
Where's his luggage
The player is traveling and it's not called.
Chick's description of their commentary.
(He's) Working on his Wrigleys
He's chewing gum.
(He's) Wound up like a toy on Christmas morning
He's playing with enthusiasm.
(back & forth like a) Windshield wiper
Moving on a pivot foot just like...(you know)
You gotta know your horses when you go to the track
Know your opponent.
Yo-yoing up and down
Dribbling the ball, like it is a yo-yo on a string.
Note: not all of these were invented by Chick, but he made the name more well-known.
Big Game James
James Worthy (who came through in big playoff games)
Earvin "Magic" Johnson
Kareem Abdul Jabbar (7'2") - the Captain
Kurt Rambis (Remember his thick black framed safety glasses.)
Fall Back Baby
Dick Barnett (had a great fall-away shot)
Jay Carty, clumsy backup center to Wilt for a couple of years.
Harold Hairston (I don't know if Chick made this one up)
Flynn Robinson, 6th Man during Lakers 33-game win-streak in early 70's because
of his ability to score immediately after being put in game.
Jerry West (great in clutch situations)
Nick the Quick, Nick at Night, Nicky V,
Nick van Excellent,
Nick van Excitement, The Cat, Nicky the Kid
Nick Van Exel
Anthony Miller (got at Michigan St. due to his weight problem)
Secretary of Defense
Michael Cooper (great defender)
Stormin' Norman Nixon
Wilt Chamberlain (not sure if Chick invented this one)
Gail Goodrich (who was one of the shortest Lakers).
Sedale Threatt (great at stealing the ball)
Thief of Bagdad
Eddie Jordan (his quick hands earned him a lot of steals).
Zeke from Cabin Creek
Jerry West (who's from Cabin Creek, West Virginia)