Bulls

Bulls' longtime public address announcer Tommy Edwards set to retire

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CHICAGO BULLS

Bulls' longtime public address announcer Tommy Edwards set to retire

Back in 1984, Tommy Edwards settled into his seat at the Biograph Theater to catch a movie with his wife when some ambient music started playing in the background.

“I told Mary Lou, ‘I know this song. It’s Sirius by the Alan Parsons Project,’” Edwards, a longtime disc jockey and radio programmer at WLS, said, referencing his wife. “The more I listened to it, I’m thinking, ‘Wait a minute. This could be the Bulls’ song.’”

The next day, Edwards bought the vinyl album, put it on his turntable at home and started practicing the Bulls’ starting lineup behind it.

“And because it has so many great parts to its intro---a new guitar part or crescendo---it worked great,” Edwards said. “The Bulls loved it immediately. Michael (Jordan) loved it. That’s been the opening lineup music ever since.”

The song actually has become a cultural phenomenon, played at weddings and bar mitzvahs and in sporting venues around the world. And it will last beyond Edwards, who will serve his last game as Bulls public address announcer Saturday against the Houston Rockets.

Edwards, whose innovations and broadcasting chops helped transform in-game sports entertainment, worked in the role from 1976-1981 and 1983-1990 at the old Chicago Stadium and again from 2006 to the present at the United Center. He missed the championship years as his successful radio career took him to Boston and Los Angeles, where he will retire to be with his three children and four grandchildren.

“Mary Lou and I have always wondered what it would be like to have the entire year to do the things we want to do---travel, be with family. The nine months of the basketball season kept us from doing that. Now we’re going to be able to go to birthday parties all the time and do all the things grandparents do more frequently,” Edwards said. “Leaving is going to be bittersweet. I’m looking forward to being in Los Angeles with the kids and family. But I’m going to miss doing games. It’s part of my DNA.”

One day, Edwards finished his disc jockey shift at WLS and a sales manager who had a friend who worked for the Bulls told him the franchise needed a public address announcer. Edwards, who grew up in Topeka, Kansas, watching Wilt Chamberlain play in college, was a huge basketball fan.

“I said, ‘Wait a minute. So they want to pay me to go to games?’” Edwards said. “I thought about it for about a second and then said, ‘OK, I’ll audition.’”

He got the job. Originally, the in-game entertainment merely consisted of Edwards on a microphone and organist Nancy Faust working her magic. But the Bulls recognized an opportunity to use Edwards’ musical knowledge and ability to dub music from his radio station to bring to the Stadium.

“When the game got very exciting, I would play a song called ‘Rock and Roll, Part 2’ by Gary Glitter,” Edwards said. “Opposing teams would call me and ask what song that was.”

When the Bulls drafted Jordan, marketing officials worked with Edwards to come up with something special for the potential star. They had already teamed to be the first in the league to turn off the lights for starting lineup introductions in 1977. At first, Edwards used Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” to introduce Jordan and the other starters. Some games, he’d experiment with the theme song from the hit TV show “Miami Vice.”

And then Edwards heard “Sirius,” the instrumental introduction to the song “Eye In The Sky.”

By this time, Edwards had begun using his “And now . . .” prelude to the starting lineup introductions. Per his then-young daughter’s request, he had permanently settled on using “the man in the middle” for the starting center intro after first trying the more simple “in the middle.”

One son served as a ballboy for nine years. His family grew up around the game. A big part of his life’s work has served as the soundtrack to many memorable sporting events.

“It’s been wonderful,” Edwards said. “I’ve had a great time.”

That includes great memories. Like the time then-announcer Johnny “Red” Kerr accidentally kicked a live wire underneath the scorer’s table, setting off the horn celebrating hockey goals just as Knicks’ Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing prepared to shoot free throws.

“Ewing looks over at us with fire in his eyes, like, ‘What are you doing?’ The officials did too,” Edwards said, laughing. “He bounced the ball to shoot again and it went off again. It looked like he was getting ready to come over to the table. The official jumped in front. He said, ‘What are you guys doing?’ We said, ‘We’re not doing anything!’ Meanwhile, the electrician is crawling under the table and finding the wire that Johnny Kerr is accidentally kicking.”

Or the time Darryl Dawkins, the dunker extraordinaire for the 76ers, got into a long conversation with Edwards and official scorer Bob Rosenberg about how much money his wife spent on a fur coat as he prepared to check into the game.

“Play stopped, the officials waved him on and he’s not paying attention. He’s talking to us,” Edwards said, laughing. “We’re saying, ‘Darryl, uh, you need to go in the game.’”

Or the one time Edwards forgot Kirk Hinrich hated having his name announced as he prepared to shoot free throws and Hinrich missed both shots.

“I felt terrible,” Edwards said. “I loved Kirk.”

Or the time Derrick Rose approached Edwards and asked him to play Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight” because he heard it once at a Bulls game as a kid.

“I’m going to miss my friends, the guys and girls at the (scorers) table. We all have to rely on each other so much,” Edwards said. “I’ll miss watching the players up close and appreciating the incredible talent they have. I’m going to miss working for Jerry Reinsdorf. He’s terrific. He has built such an incredible organization.

“Chicago fans are incredible. I’ll remember moments like when Joakim (Noah) stole the ball from (Paul) Pierce and went down and dunked and the crowd went crazy. I’m there with a microphone and I can’t hear myself on these giant speakers because the crowd is so loud. It’s so exciting to be a part of that.”

After Saturday, Edwards no longer will be.

“But I’ll still be a huge Bulls fan,” he said. “That doesn’t change.”

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Report: Jamal Crawford signs with Brooklyn Nets ahead of NBA bubble

Report: Jamal Crawford signs with Brooklyn Nets ahead of NBA bubble

How much help does Caris LeVert need?

Jamal Crawford — automatic bucket, all-time cheat code and pantheon-level problem — has reportedly agreed to a contract with the Brooklyn Nets ahead of the NBA's restart in Orlando. The Athletic's Shams Charania had the scoop:


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Since the news of the season resumption broke, the Nets have had Deandre Jordan, Spencer Dinwiddie, Taurean Prince and Wilson Chandler opt out for various reasons. Those decisions, in addition to existing injuries to Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and Nic Claxton, will leave the East's current No. 7 severely understaffed in Orlando, but Crawford should add a layer of entertainment to their eight seeding games and possible postseason run.

Crawford, after all, famously scored 51 points in his last NBA while with the Phoenix Suns on April 10, 2019. With the performance, he became the oldest player in NBA history to score 50+ in a game (39 years, 20 days), just edging out Michael Jordan (38 years, 315 days). 

He also became the first NBA player to score 50 with four different teams. His first burger came as a member of the Bulls, with whom he spent the first four seasons of his career, on April 11, 2004. Across 19 NBA seasons, Crawford has scored 19,414 points and won three Sixth Man of the Year awards.

"It was disappointing, it was shocking," Crawford said of not being signed for the 2019-20 season when he joined the Bulls Talk Podcast back in April. "My character is solid, I won teammate of the year two years ago. Besides the 50-point game, I had my highest scoring month in April (2019). I averaged 31 points in the month of April off the bench. So I thought without a doubt I showed I could still play, my character is solid, I thought without a doubt (I would get signed)."

Crawford added that even though the pandemic impacted his pickup routine, he had been able to stay in shape via a fitness center he has in his home. He'll be ready for the opportunity.

"Absolutely," he said when asked if he still hoped to find a home in the league. "I'm training as if I'm playing, or I'm going to play. Part of that obviously is for me, because I'm never out of shape, so I love to play anyway. I'll be playing somewhere, whether it's here or LA Fitness, I'll be playing somewhere. But hopefully it's back in the league."

At that point, not even Crawford could have guessed his next organized basketball would come in a Disney World bubble. But here we are. Whatever he does, it will certainly be worth watching.

RELATED: Jamal Crawford recounts how Michael Jordan helped him meet Jay-Z

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Tim Anderson mirrors Michael Jordan ‘Wings’ poster: ‘Make Me Like Mike’

Tim Anderson mirrors Michael Jordan ‘Wings’ poster: ‘Make Me Like Mike’

In the run-up to the 2020 MLB season, the South Siders have all of Chicago buzzing.

And at the forefront of the hype train: star shortstop Tim Anderson.

It makes sense. Never mind Anderson bumping his batting average from .240 to .335 (good enough for the AL batting title) between 2018 and 2019, and cementing himself as a franchise cornerstone. He’s also proven a staple in various communities around the city, and won hearts with the infectious swagger he plays the game with.

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Now, he’s evoking comparison to another Chicago sports icon. Tuesday night, Anderson tweeted a pretty sleek design of him mirroring the famous Michael Jordan ‘Wings’ poster. The caption: ‘Make Me Like Mike.’

 

For comparison:

Courtesy of Amazon

Gary Nolton, the photographer who took the Jordan picture, said in an interview with Highsnobiety that he believed the original photo was taken some time in the summer of 1989, which would have marked the offseason before the Bulls’ final defeat at the hands of the Bad Boy Pistons. The next year, 1991, marked the beginning of the first three-peat. In some ways, that picture symbolizes the precipice of Jordan’s transformation from phenom to legend.

And while no one is expecting a run of the same dynastic proportions as the 1990s Bulls from this iteration of the White Sox, seeing Anderson embrace the city’s sports tradition, and his own potential, is a fun sight for fans of any distinction.

Could the Sox make a run at contention this year? Could Anderson take another leap towards established superstardom? Or will this season mark the South Siders' final tribulation before breaking out of their rebuild, à la the Bulls of yesteryear? 

In an abbreviated campaign flush with unknowable variables, anything certainly seems possible.

RELATED: Tim Anderson leads growing White Sox toward contention: 'He's a man'

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