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Lakers, Chick Answer Call

Pro basketball: It's a virtual lovefest as Hearn is honored and applauded for working his 3,000th consecutive broadcast.

January 20, 1998|LARRY STEWART | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The halftime ceremony honoring broadcaster Chick Hearn for working his 3,000th consecutive Laker game Monday was everything he had envisioned it would be, and then some.

And then, after the two long standing ovations, the gifts and honors and accolades, and Hearn had said all his thank yous, it was time to go back to work.

Hearn, after walking over to hug Golden Globe award winner Jack Nicholson, stopped to shake hands with well-wishing fans as he entered the tunnel under the Great Western Forum stands, then got congratulatory handshakes from the the three officials working the game, Joe Borgia, Hue Hollins and Derrick Stafford.

On this day, everyone was a Chick Hearn fan.

"I was so nervous last night I didn't sleep a wink," he said. "I knew this was going to be difficult, and it was. It's not easy being the center of attention.

"But you know what made it easy? Because everything I said was from the heart."

Well, maybe not everything. With the Lakers trailing the Orlando Magic, 46-41, at halftime, Hearn got the event's biggest laugh when he said, "Let's go, Lakers. You're playing like dogs. If they play the third quarter like they played the first half, I'm going to buy them Alpo."

But otherwise the ceremony fit the occasion. A broadcasting icon was honored appropriately.

First, emcee James Worthy introduced Hearn's granddaughter, Shannon Hearn Newman, and her husband, Louis Newman, and Hearn's 2-year-old great-granddaughter, Kayla.

Then came the honors and gifts:

* From the City of Hope's Gil Schwartzberg, a special Victor Award.

* From Brian McIntyre, NBA vice president of communications, a commemorative plaque.

* From Kitty Cohen, general manager of Fox Sports West, a first-class trip to Honolulu for two.

* From Pat McClehanhan, Channel 9's executive producer, not to be outdone, a cruise to Alaska, or as Hearn might say, "As far as [wife] Marge can row."

* From Ed Krampf, KLAC general manager, an inscribed replica classic 1935 Bluebird radio.

Then it was Laker Executive Vice President Jerry West's turn to dish out a few accolades. He wrapped up his short speech by saying, "Players can always be replaced, but we'll never be able to replace you, Chick."

Hearn assured the crowd he isn't going anywhere, which drew another ovation. He also paid tribute to Marge.

"She truly is a saint," Hearn said.

Hearn had already been a guest on the "Morning News" on Channel 5, and the 15-minute "Final Quarter" segment on the Channel 9 news Monday night was devoted almost entirely to him.

Channel 9 also will feature Hearn at halftime of the Laker-Phoenix game Wednesday night, and recap Monday's ceremony.

Still, Hearn, always the perfectionist, wondered, "Did I do OK?"

Yes, Chick, you did OK.

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