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OHIO WEATHER

Celtics Broadcaster Mike Gorman Will Rightfully Be Remembered as a Franchise


Titanic figures loom throughout the storied history of the Boston Celtics. Many an era-defining personality has suited up on the Garden parquet, from Bill Russell to Larry Bird to Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. For basketball fans, this is how the franchise is remembered.

For Boston fans, one man stands among these legends of yore: Mike Gorman, the team’s local play-by-play broadcaster for the last 43 years. On Sunday afternoon, he called his final regular season game. Before long, his name will be up in the rafters amongst the many whose careers he narrated. The organization is littered with basketball royalty and Gorman, rightfully, will be remembered as one of the Celtics’ greatest and most beloved individuals.

You’ve read time and time again what makes a great local broadcaster. You’ve heard the tropes about such figures becoming members of the family for how often their voices echoed throughout the living room. How the sound of their voices became a balm for bad days, weeks, months, or years. The comfort induced by a catchphrase heard thousands of times. Gorman was all that and more, because how could anybody feel otherwise after he spent 43 years in the same seat?

I grew up in Boston listening to Gorman and he’ll always be that for me. As a fan, you couldn’t want anything more from a play-by-play guy. As a professional, I became impressed with Gorman’s nuance as a broadcaster.

It was a necessary trait for most his career, being that he spent decades alongside Tommy Heinsohn. For those who don’t know, Heinsohn was an NBA lifer who was Gorman’s color partner for many, many years, and was…. not subtle. At all. He knew basketball inside and out but would rather hit viewers over the head with a blunt object of a statement rather than get into the detail of it all. Especially when it came to officiating, a favorite target of Heinsohn’s rants.

Next to such a personality (and Celtics legend to boot), Gorman had to be the calming presence. He had to be the yoke that gently guided the viewers back to the game after an explosive Heinsohn diatribe about an iffy call that had the audience banging on the table in agreement. While his partner treated every play in front of him like it was the worst (or best) thing he’s ever seen, Gorman was happy to sit back and enjoy the ebbs and flows of a 48-minute game in an 82-game season.

His quiet steadiness is the defining trait of his tenure on the call, no matter how much the boat rocked around him. Gorman raised his energy appropriately when the moment called for it, as evidenced by the call most will remember him by.

“Harrington talking to Pierce… Joe Derozan telling them to shut up… Pierce… BURIES IT! Right in Harrington’s face!”

That is, however, one of the very few instances in which Gorman’s call outshone the moment on the court. He knew people weren’t watching for him. They were watching for the players and the game. Gorman’s innate sense of when to let the moment speak to the viewers was perhaps his strongest trait. Aside from a few “GOT IT”s over the years, an exciting moment under Gorman’s watch was enveloped by the crowd reaction rather than the broadcast. For him, it was about the beauty of basketball. It was about everyone else.

That’s why, on Sunday when the Celtics held Mike Gorman Day, his voice did not shake as he signed off for the final time. The way he called Boston’s blowout win over the Washington Wizards might’ve been any other game. But at halftime, when Gorman was asked about his longtime partner in Heinsohn, he choked up. As did hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of us watching around the country.

Gorman isn’t done done. Not yet. He will still call Boston’s home games for their first-round matchup, so fans in the region will hear his voice at least twice more. But Sunday was a beautiful end to an incredible career.

Gorman will go down in franchise annals as the voice of multiple generations. For many, he’ll always just be the voice of the Celtics. For me, he’s a legend, and I will miss him very much.





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