With the passage of time, we are guaranteed to experience the loss of sports broadcasting icons. When the announcement of their passing is made, we harken back to our fondest memories of a great catchphrase or broadcast moment captured by the words of those whose job it is to bring the game to us through their observations, insights and words. Hall of Fame Coach and basketball color commentator Dr. Jack Ramsey did just that, and with his passing this week, I fondly recall his radio portrayal of the NBA games. When he spoke, we all listened and felt we knew something more about the game or its players because of his presence. He was universally respected and certainly will be missed.
Dr. Jack’s work made me think of the work of others, such as our own Al McCoy. There will someday come a time when “The Voice of the Suns” is no longer perched in front of a microphone bringing life to the Suns’ broadcasts. Well, I don’t want to wait until then to express my appreciation and admiration for a man who helped put the Phoenix sports market on the map.
Al McCoy has been the Suns’ radio broadcaster since 1972. Over his 40+ year tenure, he rarely missed his day at the microphone. I can’t even imagine what it would sound like to listen to Suns basketball and not hear him describing the action. He has coined so many phrases, such as “Shazam” when the Suns score or “Heartbreak Hotel” when a shot rolls off the rim. Despite his words traveling the radio airwaves, we can see the action when he proclaims “Swisharoo for two” of “zing goes the strings.” He can rip a referee’s call without every using a disparaging phrase or crossing a line in his criticism. He is a true artist and master of his craft.
Through eras in Suns’ history that span from the Van Arsdales, to Walter Davis and Alvin Adams, to Tom Chambers and KJ, to Barkley and gang, to Steve Nash, and to the current roster, Al McCoy has been a constant. He at times could be seen as a “homer” but he is our homer, and he not only helps us celebrate the victories, he also suffers the losses along with us.
Al McCoy just this weekend celebrated his 81st birthday, but his style and energy leaves us believing that he will be at the Suns’ microphone for years to come. No matter how much longer his play by play announcing paints his pictures of the games we listen to, we should recognize that he is one of a kind.
So, Happy Birthday, Al McCoy. And thanks for the memories, both from the past and the ones yet to come.