Bob Blackburn, the Seattle SuperSonics' first broadcaster and for 20 years the lone voice of Sonics history, died Friday after a lengthy illness, his wife Pat told Associated Press. He was 85.
Known for his smooth voice and simple, colorful descriptions, Blackburn educated two generations of basketball fans in the Pacific Northwest. From Lenny Wilkens to Jack Sikma, Blackburn was the narrator for Sonics basketball, including the team’s NBA championship in 1979.
“That beautiful voice. I fell in love with that voice,” Pat Blackburn said Friday.
A year ago, Blackburn fell and suffered a severe head injury requiring surgery, his wife said. There were complications following surgery, but Pat Blackburn said her husband of 61 years bounced back. He eventually fell ill with pneumonia.
“He was a gentleman, and he said he wants to be remembered as a kind person,” she said.
Blackburn, who earlier broadcast Portland Beavers baseball and Oregon and Oregon State sports, was an established talent when he beat out more than 100 other candidates to become the Sonics first play-by-play man in 1967. He held the position for 20 years by himself, serving as his own engineer in the early days.
He was joined on the broadcast by Kevin Calabro in 1987. They shared duties until Calabro replaced Blackburn in 1992.
The team retired Blackburn’s microphone and a banner honoring “The Voice” hung in the rafters at KeyArena until the team’s move to Oklahoma City.
4 Wizards draw ‘gun fines’
Four Washington Wizards players were fined $10,000 apiece Friday for making light of Gilbert Arenas’ antics before Tuesday’s game at Philadelphia.
Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee, Randy Foye and Nick Young were assessed the fines.
The four players were among a laughing and smiling group that surrounded Arenas when he pointed his index fingers at teammates as if he were firing a pair of guns during a pregame huddle.
Arenas has been banned indefinitely by the NBA.