Chris Forsberg

Mike Gorman's familiar voice has connected generations of Celtics fans


Editor's Note: Mike Gorman will call his final regular season Celtics broadcast this Sunday at TD Garden. Tune into NBC Sports Boston at 6:30 p.m. ET on Friday, April 12 for a 30-minute special honoring Gorman's 43-year career, and tune in Sunday at 1 p.m. ET as we honor Gorman during his final broadcast.

It’s fall 1989. I’m sitting on the living room floor of my childhood home, mildly annoyed at the basketball game on the television. My father is yelling at the TV, which makes me only slightly more curious about the game that I’m otherwise ignoring.

I’ve used all my 9-year-old strength to capsize a five-gallon water jug that serves as a toll both for my parents' spare change. The carpet is now a sea of coins and pocket lint, and I’m feverishly sifting through the endless waves of pennies while lunging at the quarters, all while daydreaming of some sort of splurge on a Nintendo product.

The same Nintendo that I can’t play right now because dad is screaming at the television.

A cursory glance reveals that Charles Barkley is tormenting the Celtics and, by proxy, my father. As Barkley bullies his way through two Celtics to corral another rebound, dad seems skeptical that referee Jack Nies has booked his annual optometrist appointment. But before my father can overheat, the voices on the television provide levity.

“Gimme a break!”

The only person more worked up about Barkley — and the officiating -- is SportsChannel’s Tommy Heinsohn. His sidekick Mike Gorman is, more quietly, offering some acid-tongue critiques of his own.

This makes dad laugh. His blood pressure stabilizes. He’ll eventually turn towards me and my teetering towers of coins and tell me how Gorman and Heinsohn are the best broadcast booth in town.

This is only Year 8 of Mike and Tommy but dad already knows what will become gospel: that Gorman and Heinsohn are the pinnacle of their profession. And 82 times per year for the next three decades, we’ll invite them into our living room to talk us through all the highs and (far too many) lows of Celtics basketball.

Celtics broadcasters Tommy Heinsohn and Mike Gorman
NBC Sports Boston
Celtics broadcasters Tommy Heinsohn (left) and Mike Gorman (right) worked side-by-side for nearly four decades.

I’d be lying if I told you it was that moment that made me want to talk about basketball for a living. I didn’t want to be on television, I just wanted to use the television. Maybe I should have been saving for a Game Boy so I could still play Zelda during Celtics games.

But all these years later, I can still vividly remember my dad gushing about Mike and Tommy. Maybe it happened so frequently that I have simply conflated all those memories into that one moment.

If you’re like me, then Gorman is the only voice of Celtics basketball you’ve ever known. Gorman and Heinsohn were sometimes the only enjoyable part of Celtics games for long stretches of the 1990s and early 2000s.

Gorman wraps up his 43rd and final season as voice of the Celtics this month. Despite my father giving me a 34-year head’s up to appreciate every moment, I am not ready for a world where Gorman is not the narrator to Boston basketball.

That Gorman’s final season has been filled with so many positive moments makes the goodbye a little easier to stomach. Maybe these Celtics will produce the best possible sendoff and deliver a championship parade in June. It sometimes feels like that’s the only appropriate way for this 43-year ride to end.

They tell you, "Don’t meet your heroes." Well, don’t meet your heroes unless your hero is Mike Gorman. Then do everything you can to meet your hero. On top of being the best at what he does, he’s an even better person. He’s the epitome of cool. And while he’s fretted this farewell tour, I’m glad it’s given everyone the opportunity to reaffirm just how much he’s adored.

More on Mike Gorman's Farewell Season

I don’t remember my first meeting with Gorman as vividly as I do that living-room scene. I’m sure I stammered my way through that initial encounter. And every encounter since then.

Whenever I get a chance to share the screen with Mike, I think about my dad. He passed away unexpectedly in 2012, and I wonder what he would think about his kid being even a teeny, tiny part of a Gorman broadcast. It’s me now, trying to explain to my young daughters how fortunate we are to hear Gorman on these broadcasts, all while they would prefer I stop screaming at the TV.

It might sound weird to say, but what I’ll miss most about Mike is the silence in his broadcasts. No one is better at knowing when to get out of the way, when to let the moment breathe. In an era of information overload, Gorman knows when to let the roar of the Garden tell a story.

Yes, I'll miss “Got It!” I’ll miss “Takes it, makes it.” I’ll miss every, “We’ll see you on the postgame show.” But what I’ll really miss is that feeling you get any time you turn on the TV and it was Mike on the call. That comfort, that familiarity.

Nine-year-old me didn’t know how lucky we were. But I sure know now.

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