When the Cavaliers players took a moment after intros to collectively look up and appreciate Joe Tait last night, it dawned on me that Joe’s been on the Cavaliers call longer than each one of them have been alive.
His thirty-nine years of service to this team, and this community, began way back when fifty year-old coach Byron Scott was an eleven. A lifetime of memories ago.
After the hoopla ended, his banner was raised to the Quicken Loans rafters, and it was basketball time once again, the first thing Joe Tait said in response to the ceremony was simply the following:
“I’ll tell you this, I haven’t seen so many ugly sweaters in one place in my entire life.”
Which made me smile, and realize just how much I’m gonna miss Joe Tait.
Earlier in the day, when I was debating whether I should go down to the game or listen to his radio call on the night named in his honor, I kinda thought maybe I was being a little weird about all this. Maybe I shouldn’t admit that to anybody, I thought.
But then I heard his voice booming through the airwaves once again, just like so many times before, and I didn’t debate the decision I had already made any longer. I knew it was the right move. Sorry Fred and AC, you were on mute last night…great sweaters though fellas.
The television feed was about thirty seconds or so behind the radio call at my house, but I thought that appropriate. Joe always did seem to know what was happening before anybody else anyways.
He warned the Cavs about Kyle Korver hitting threes from the corner but they didn’t listen. He compared Semih Erden to another “big guy he once knew who fouled a lot” as Jim Chones sat laughing beside him in the booth, and everytime he said Boozer’s name it sounded to me like he felt the same way we did about Carlos.
More than all that though, he made a double-digit loss where the Cavs never really had a chance as entertaining as any of the three thousand and some odd other games he’s called in his tenure.
Like so many of us around here, Joe Tait first described Cavs basketball to me in glowing detail as soon as I was old enough to understand it. Whether it was while I was dunking on a six foot hoop in my garage with him in the background or driving around with my Dad, when I heard Joe say things like “wham with the right hand”, I knew something good was happening. I knew there was reason to smile.
As is there reason to smile as we bid Joe Tait farewell even though we don’t want to see him leave. To be honest, there’s a big part of me that wishes he’ll end up in Mississippi this summer and bump into a Wrangler Jeans wearing gunslinger who convinces him that you can always come out of retirement at anytime, and that nothing’s final.
But the rest of me knows his Hall of Fame run is over. He’s too cool for something like that.
Thanks for everything Mr. Tait, you’ll be forever missed, and always remembered.