Monday, January 25, 2010

A "Voice" I Remember

He tagged Fred Brown "Downtown". He put the Seattle Supersonics on the map. He was Seattle sports. Bob Blackburn, longtime voice of the Seattle Supersonics was remembered Sunday as family, friends, and colleagues jammed into First United Methodist Church in Bellevue for one last salute to this honorable family man. As people were filing into the church, his booming voice was heard one last time as he delivered another perfect game in the final minutes of the replay of the Sonics' 1979 NBA Championship win over the Washington Bullets. There wasn't a dry eye in the house.

"Bob was a legend", those words from a legend himself, Lenny Wilkens. Wilkens talked about how he became neighbors with "Voice" after he was traded to the Sonics from the St. Louis Hawks. He later guided the Sonics to the NBA Championship as their coach. No legend myself, I was fortunate to grow up in Woodridge, an old school neighborhood just east of downtown Bellevue. It was a dream neighborhood where locking doors was few and far between. I was friends with Bob's son Dave, a quick witted multi-sport athlete who afforded me the chance to learn and choose who my childhood idol would be. It wasn't Spencer Haywood or Bob Rule. It wasn't Dick "The Duck" Snyder, or even "Leaping'" Lee Winfield. It was a man who inspired me to enter the broadcasting profession. His work ethic, drive, passion, and attention to detail is what peaked my interest. The Sonics had a 7:30 game one evening and I asked him what time he needed to leave for the Seattle Center Coliseum. "Four fifty-eight", he responded.

I knew then that Bob Blackburn was my idol.