Tonight when the Cavs take on the New Orleans Hornets at the Q, it will once again be broadcast over the radio by Joe Tait. In fact, this will be the 3,000th Cavaliers game that Tait has called. With all of the turnover in the broadcasting world, it is a fitting that the Cavaliers take time to honor Joe. Terry Pluto wrote a column about the occasion, which I would recommend to any Cavs fan. Tait probably thinks that the attention surrounding his 3,000th game is silly. He strikes me as the type that figures he is simply going to work again. Perhaps it is that lunch pail mentality that we love about Joe.
Tait is somehow able to describe all of the action going on in front of him, and make you feel like you are court side with him. Perhaps more amazing than that is he does it without sounding monotonous. He also isn’t afraid to interject his expert opinion in his calls. That is quite rare in this day and age when announcers seem to be extensions of team PR departments. (See Cavaliers, television announcers.)
“I’m glad we are celebrating Joe. He is the Cavaliers franchise to so many people. Fans know they can trust him.”
Gund admitted that sometimes Tait’s criticism of the team has bothered him.
“I thought about calling him, but I never did,” said Gund. “I knew he was just being honest.”
I concur. Fans do trust Tait, and his take on what is happening on the court. If a player is not putting forth his best effort, Tait has been known to say so. If the team is tired and not into the game late, you’ll hear that as well. When the Cavaliers struggled in the late 90′s I half expected Tait to call it a career. Think about it, when Ricky Davis was throwing balls off the backboard to pad his stats you could turn the channel, Tait had to call it. And the next game, and the next.
I think my favorite of Tait’s calls are when you can hear his frustration about officials. “A whistle and what?” The what gets more emphatic as the game proceeds. This is not to say that Joe is unprofessional. He maintains his composure through it all, he simply is going to tell you when a call is a mistake and when it isn’t. Even if the mistake goes in favor of the Cavs. Although his line about DeBusscher was probably a little over the top.
“Where’s the technical foul? He (the ref) wouldn’t call a technical foul if DeBusscher had a shotgun on him.”
That call and many more are available here.
Tait was featured on the NBA’s official page and recognized as the ‘broadcaster of the week’. He was asked about his favorite Cavalier memories, and these were the 5 he offered as his favorite.
1. April 22, 1976 at the Coliseum – Cavs 92, Washington 91: Jim Cleamons outrebounded Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld for the game-winning basket giving the Cavaliers a 3-2 edge in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Semifinals.
2. April 29, 1976 at the Coliseum – Cavs 87, Washington 85: Dick Snyder’s field goal with four seconds remaining defeated the Bullets four games to three in the so-called “Miracle at Richfield.” Unfortunately the magical ride ended when the Cavs lost to the Celtics in six games with a chance to go to the Finals.
3. Jan. 29, 1980 at the Coliseum – Cavs 154, Lakers 153 in (4-OT): Bill Willoughby guarded Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the final overtime and the reserves refused to lose.
4. May 10, 1992 at the Boston Garden – Cavs 114, Boston 112 (OT): The Cavs big four of Larry Nance (32 points), Mark Price (26 points and 12 assists), Brad Daugherty (21 points) and Hot Rod Williams (18 points) stepped up enabling the Cavaliers to tie the Eastern Conference Semifinals at two games a piece. The Cavaliers then went on to win that series before losing to Chicago in six.
5. Jan. 21, 1995 at McNichols Sports Arena – Cleveland 101, Denver 100 (2-OT): It was the last game of a tough six-game Western trip and Mark Price, Terrell Brandon and Tyrone Hill were all out. Gary Briggs, the Cavaliers trainer, dubbed the team the “Nasty Nine” and Steve Colter scored the game-winner on a tip-in with 0:00.2 seconds to go in the second overtime.
If you’ve never listened to a Cavs game on the radio, do yourself a favor and catch one. Turn the sound down on your tv and listen to Tait. Try closing your eyes and seeing the game through Tait’s calls. It really is amazing how he is able to paint a moving picture with his voice.