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. His 3000th consecutive game was Jan 19, 1998. He is the voice of an era, and has seen it all.

Here is a biography from the LA Times

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.


Game Descriptions (Chickism's)

  • Air ball
    A shot the misses everything.
  • Attacking 47 feet (of this 94x50 hunk of wood)
    The front-court, the offensive zone.
  • Blooooows the layup!
    Missed a very easy layup.
  • Boo birds
    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).
  • 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.
  • Charity Stripe
    Free-throw line.
  • 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"
  • Coop-a-loop
    Alley-oop to Michael Cooper.
  • Cosmetic Call
    Also called a Makeup call, a questionable call by the referee to even out a previous questionable call that went the other way.
  • (Got em') covered like a rug on your floor
    Really close, tight defense.
  • (It'll) Count if it goes... it goes!
    A player is fouled in the act of shooting... and makes the shot.
  • 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.
  • Dribble Drive
    Drive to the basket while dribbling.
  • Faked the floperoo
    An attempt by a defender to draw a charging foul, usually one which is disdained by the refs.
  • Finger roll
    A shot where the ball rolls off the shooter's fingers.
  • Fly-swatted
    A shot blocked with a lot of force and authority.
  • Football Score
    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.
  • Frozen rope
    A shot with a very flat trajectory.
  • Garbage play
    A player picks up a loose ball that luckily is close by and has an easy shot.
  • Garbage time
    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.
  • 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.
  • (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'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.
  • High School Hideout
    A player who is cherry-picking (waiting around mid-court for a break-away).
  • Hippity-hop dribble
    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.
    See ticky-tack
  • 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)
  • Kamakaze steal
    When a player over-commits trying to intercept a pass, and gets burned. Or goes down the smokestack.
  • (He) Kicked him in the wallet...and he's got a thick wallet!
    Kicked him in the rear, and he's well-paid.
  • Leaping leana
    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.
  • Matador defense
    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 out.
  • Nailed to the floor
    A player drives past a defender who does not move at all.
  • Nervous time
    When the game's in the pressure cooker.
  • 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.
  • No-look pass
    A pass made to another player without looking at him.
  • Not Phi-beta-kappa
    Not a smart play.
  • 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.
  • Popcorn machine
    1. 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.
    2. 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,
  • 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.
  • Sets...fires...gets!!
    An outside shot with plenty of time to set up.
  • (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.
  • (they couldn't beat) the Sisters of Mercy
    The Lakers are playing terribly.
  • Slaaaaaam Dunk!!!
    A dunk with authority, also Chick was the first to use the phrase "slam dunk".
  • (He's) So slow, I saw him on an escalator yesterday and a step passed him.
    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).
  • Swing left, shoot right
    Picture Kareem's skyhook motion.
  • Tattoo Dribble
    Dribbling the ball in the same spot, as to tattoo the floor.
  • 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 floor.
    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'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 win the tip, that means they get the ball to start the fourth quarter!
    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.
  • This is your World Champion Lakers' basketball network!
    Chick's station ID when the Lakers were the world champs.
  • Ticky-tack
    A foul called when very little contact has been made.
  • Tightrope act
    Saving a ball from going out-of-bounds with delicate balance.
  • 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).
  • Triple-double
    A player gets double figures in three statistical categories, usually points, rebounds, and assists. Also could be steals or blocked shots, but these are rarer.
  • Twenty-foot layup
    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.
  • (on his) Wallet
    Butt, rear end, ass, ... (whatever)
  • Words-eye view
    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.


Player Nicknames

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)
  • Blue-collar Kurt
    Kurt Rambis
  • Buck
    Earvin "Magic" Johnson
  • Big Fella
  • Cap
    Kareem Abdul Jabbar (7'2") - the Captain
  • Clark Kent
    Kurt Rambis (Remember his thick black framed safety glasses.)
  • The Eagle
    Kermit Washington
  • Fall Back Baby
    Dick Barnett (had a great fall-away shot)
  • Garbage man
    Cedric Ceballos
  • "Happy" Hairston
    Harold Hairston (I don't know if Chick made this one up)
  • The Hawk
    Connie Hawkins
  • Mr. Clutch
    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
  • Pig
    Anthony Miller (got at Michigan St. due to his weight problem)
  • Secretary of Defense
    Michael Cooper (great defender)
  • Steady Eddie
    Eddie Jones
  • The Stilt
    Wilt Chamberlain (not sure if Chick invented this one)
  • Stumpy
    Gail Goodrich (who was one of the shortest Lakers).
  • The Thief
    Sedale Threatt (great at stealing the ball)reek
    Jerry West (who's from Cabin Creek, West Virg