SBD/November 6, 2012/People and Pop Culture

Jim Durham, The Long-Time Voice Of The NBA On ESPN Radio, Dies At 65

Durham was an announcer for the Bulls during the team's '91 championship run
ESPN's JIM DURHAM, who was the lead play-by-play announcer for ESPN Radio's NBA coverage, passed away over the weekend at his home in Tomball, Texas, at the age of 65. His final ESPN assignment was last Tuesday’s NBA season opener between the Celtics and Heat. He joined ESPN in ‘92, where he called college basketball and MLB games in addition to the NBA. Prior to joining ESPN, Durham had been a TV announcer for the Mavericks from ’93-'01. He also served as radio and television commentator for the Bulls from ’73-91, White Sox TV play-by-play announcer from ’89-90, and Astros TV commentator from ’83-85. Durham last year was honored by the Basketball HOF with the Curt Gowdy Media Award (ESPN). In Chicago, K.C. Johnson notes Durham called the Bulls’ “first championship season" in '91. The tributes to Durham that “flowed freely” yesterday “spoke not only to Durham's broadcasting talent, but also to his generosity and gentlemanly nature.” The Chicago native was “widely hailed for having time for anyone to talk broadcasting and basketball.” Durham “worked solo when he first joined the Bulls before suggesting using JOHNNY 'RED' KERR for color commentary.” Their partnership featured “healthy doses of humor along with knowledge.” Durham was honored as Illinois Sportscaster of the Year in ‘79, ‘89 and ‘90 and “won two local Emmy awards” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/6). In Ft. Worth, Dwain Price reports there was a “moment of silence” for Durham yesterday at American Airlines Center before the Trail Blazers-Mavericks game. Mavericks Owner MARK CUBAN said, "J.D. is a Hall Of Famer, he's a legend. We were fortunate to have him here with the Mavs for so many years; he'll be irreplaceable” (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 11/6).

REMEMBERING A LEGEND: In Illinois, Mike Imrem writes Durham was “as natural at broadcasting sports as anyone who ever did games" in Chicago. Durham “respected the games he broadcast and enjoyed them and appreciated working them” (Illinois DAILY HERALD, 11/6). In Chicago, Joe Cowley notes Durham “called Bulls games during MICHAEL JORDAN's first seven seasons.” His “most memorable call might have been Jordan’s shot over CRAIG EHLO to defeat the Cavaliers in the 1989 playoffs” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 11/6). ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan said Durham “was one of the great radio broadcasters of our time.” MacMullan: “He wasn’t a guy that had big, bombastic declarations. He didn’t have gimmicky catchphrases. That’s not what Jim was about. He was consistent (and would) vividly describe the game for you. He was as an old throwback to one of those great old radio guys” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 11/5). ESPN.com’s Marc Stein wrote about some of the things he will remember from Durham, including “how he made the broadcasts of some really bad Mavericks teams in the '90s sound as important as the games he called for Michael Jordan's Bulls." He also will recall "how good" Durham and analyst DR. JACK RAMSAY were on ESPN Radio (ESPN.com, 11/5).
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