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Longtime Cavaliers broadcaster Joe Tait dies at 83

Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers

CLEVELAND - MARCH 27: After recuperating from heart surgery, Cleveland Cavaliers Hall of Fame announcer Joe Tait returns to the microphone for today’s game against the Atlanta Hawks March 27, 2011 at The Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2011 NBAE (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

CLEVELAND — Joe Tait, a longtime Cleveland sports broadcaster and voice of the Cavaliers for more than four decades, died Wednesday. He was 83.

Tait had recently gone into hospice care following a lengthy battle with kidney disease and liver cancer.

“A friend and mentor to many over the years, Joe Tait wasn’t just a member of the Cavaliers family; he was a part of the Cavs story like no one else and his voice and unique, candid perspective reverberates throughout the team’s history,” the Cavs said in a statement. “He will be dearly missed.”

Tait was with the NBA team from its inception in 1970 until he retired in 2011, calling over 3,000 games. In his final season, the Cavs honored Tait with a commemorative banner that hangs alongside some of the team’s retired jersey numbers in the rafters of Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Sometimes a little gruff when he didn’t agree with a referees’ call, Tait also had several signature sayings like “Wham with the right hand!” following a dunk.

“Joe was also famous for his dry wit and his pragmatic view of life and probably wouldn’t have wanted a big, sentimental sendoff,” the Cavs said. “So, to paraphrase the legend, himself - Let’s not say: `goodbye.’ Let’s just say: “Have a GOOD night, everybody!”’

Tait was there in the good and bad years for the Cavs and he finally made it to the NBA Finals as LeBron James led Cleveland to its first appearance in 2007.

James expressed his condolences in a Twitter posting.

Tait did radio and TV play-by-play for the Cleveland Indians for 16 seasons. He also called games for the WNBA’s Cleveland Rockers, Cleveland Crusaders hockey and Mount Union football.

Among Tait’s more memorable calls was the Cavs’ “Miracle in Richfield” run in the 1975-76 playoffs, when Cleveland rallied to knock off Washington. He also handled Len Barker’s perfect game in 1981.

“Thank you, Joe, for the decades of joy you have brought Cleveland sports fans,” the Indians said in a posting.

Tait was born in Evanston, Illinois. He began his radio career at Monmouth College (Illinois) before graduating in 1959. He had planned to be a writer, but changed his career course after a professor sent him to record a basketball game and heard his call.

Tait also served three years in the Army.

He was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame media wing in 2010.

There were no immediate information on services.