Kirk Hinrich

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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Kris Dunn joins Kirk Hinrich, Michael Jordan and other great Bulls with 17-assist masterpiece

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USA TODAY

Kris Dunn joins Kirk Hinrich, Michael Jordan and other great Bulls with 17-assist masterpiece

Kris Dunn turned in one of the more complete performances of his career in Friday night’s loss to the Pacers. He racked up 17 assists, joining some great names in Bulls history.

Dunn became one of nine players in Bulls’ history to finish a game with at least 17 assists in a game.

The other eight players in Bulls history who have racked up at least 17 assists in a game are:

Guy Rodgers, Clem Haskins, Norm Van Lier, Ennis Whatley, Sam Vincent, Michael Jordan, Kirk Hinrich and most recently (via our Chris Kamka) before Dunn, Derrick Rose.

Out of the nine players in Bulls history to get at least 17 assists in a game, Dunn actually tied Whatley for the highest field goal percentage of the bunch at 66.7 percent on 6-for-9 shooting from the field. This is yet another figure that shows just how well Dunn was controlling the flow of the offense on Friday night.

And in a more specific measure, Dunn also became only the second player in Bulls franchise history to net 17 assists and at least two made 3-pointers in a game. This one was huge for Dunn, as it represented the first time he hit multiple 3-pointers in a game this season.

Dunn has been slowly but surely improving, and as of now he is playing a role this team desperately needs. His defense has always been good--foul issues notwithstanding--but it is well documented that if he can improve his 3-point shooting accuracy, his ceiling becomes very, very different.

So while the 17 assists are awesome to see, the 3-point makes were nice too. This season, Dunn is shooting a sizzling-hot 50 percent on corner 3-point shots, and 35 percent on all 3-point shots. Last season Dunn shot 38 percent on corner 3s and 32 percent from the 3-point line. So if he has improved again as a shooter, somewhere around the 34-to-35 percent mark from 3-point range would be about right, even if it comes on a much lower volume.

Much like Russell Westbrook--the former MVP and 7-time All-NBA team member--, Dunn received much doubt over whether he could develop into a quality NBA point guard because of his lack of a jump shot. But also similar to “The Brodie”, Dunn  has flashed the ability to have a huge impact on games even if his shot isn’t falling.

Dunn’s 17 assist game may be remembered down the line as a nice little reward for Bulls fans among a tough season, or it may fall by the wayside like the not widely discussed or remembered Sam Vincent 17-assist game from 1988.

But if the development of the young Bulls’ core goes as well as John Paxson and co. expect, this game may well go down as the exact moment when the Bulls’ “Big 3” finally clicked.

Stay under the salary cap and build the best Bulls 3-on-3 team

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USA TODAY

Stay under the salary cap and build the best Bulls 3-on-3 team

Play general manager and choose your best Bulls 3-on-3 team while staying under the salary cap: 

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Who’s on your 3-on-3 squad 🤔?

A post shared by NBC Sports Chicago (@nbcschicago) on

Here's who we took: 

Mark Schanowski (@MarkSchanowski), Bulls Pre and Post anchor: Jordan, Kerr, Noah.

Vincent Goodwill (@vgoodwill), Bulls Insider: Jordan, Rodman, Kerr.  

Will Perdue (@Will_Perdue32), Bulls analyst: Jordan, Joakim, Kerr. 

Mark Strotman (@markstrot), Bulls reporter: Pip, Gordon, Nate. 

Kevin Anderson (@Kevin_NBCS), coordinating producer: Pippen, Deng, Noah. 

Justin O'Neill (@JustinmONeil), Bulls producer: Rose, Kukoc, Noah... what's Cam Payne cost? 

Slavko Bekovic (@SBekovic), producer: Jordan, Robinson, Noah.

Jessica Felten (@thisisjfel), Director of Marketing: Jordan and Rose (says nahhh to the third player). 

Crystal Smith, sales planner: Jordan, Noah, Rodman

Joaquin Carrig (@joaqthewalk), production assistant: Jordan and Rose (forgoing third player).

Ezra McCann, assignment editor: Jordan, Rodman, Hinrich.