To give you a little history, I got out of college
in the early ‘60s and I was a disc jockey in town. One day I got a call
from somebody who I didn’t know who asked me if I would make an appearance
on a Friday night out at a fun park in Milwaukee. I wasn’t from Milwaukee.
I’m an East Coast guy, born and raised in Boston. I spent my high school
and college years in Evanston, Illinois, and went to Michigan State. So
Milwaukee was kind of a new venture for me. People came to know me through
being a radio personality.
So I went out to this fun park after I did my radio program one night.
It was like a pitch and put, but it had a big area where they had a couple
of bands. When I got there, there was a full blown riot that had broken
out. For whatever reason I had a couple guys that had traveled with me,
and I got this crowd under control by giving them records and stuff like
that. With the crowd settled, we went on and finished the night, but it
could have been a pretty messy thing I guess. The following Monday I got a
call from the secretary of the guy who owned this fun park. She told me
that the owner would like to meet with me as he was really appreciative of
the fact that I was able to get things under control, and in turn, saved
him a lot of consternation. So I agreed to meet with him.
When I showed up at the building to meet with him, I couldn’t get in. I
found a security guard and explained my situation, and he informed me that
the man I was looking for never was there at that time. I eventually found
out that our meeting wasn’t at 12:30 p.m. as I had thought, but 12:30 a.m.
This seemed kind of odd, so now I had to meet this guy. Upon finally
meeting him, he started off complimenting me for getting things under
control that night at the fun park. He looks at me, and I’m a real young
guy, and he says to me, “What is it you want to do with you life?”
I said, “I don’t want to be a disc jockey, that’s for sure. I’ve been
working my entire life to this point trying to get into sports which has
been my goal since I was 12 years old.”
“We might have something for you,” he says. “I’m heading up the group
that is trying to bring an NBA franchise to Milwaukee. In the event we get
this franchise, I like you, and I might have something for you. In the
meantime, I’d like to hire you to go out and speak to groups. We’ll get
the groups and we’ll pay you $50 per speech. We’d like to have you talk to
these groups and drum up excitement and interest in the franchise that we
Now this was 1967. Nobody knew about it. It was kind of a secret. We
had read some things in the paper about it maybe happening. Remember, they
didn’t have a team or name and I was going into a market that didn’t know
much about NBA basketball. I did it anyway and it turned out to be the
biggest break of my life. Up to that point, I was talking to a lot of guys
that didn’t want to give me a chance to do what I really did best, which
So one night I am out speaking to a group of men, and apparently in
that crowd was the team lawyer and the team accountant who were also major
investors in the new franchise. It had been announced that they were going
to get a team for the ’68 season. I got up and spoke and apparently I did
a really good job because the following week, the guys who were bringing
this team in had a board meeting, and among the things they discussed was
what they were going to do for broadcasting. Television wasn’t an option
at the time. They didn’t have enough time to put it together, but they
thought that they had to have a radio component. A few said that they
probably should bring someone in from New York who knew how to do the
games. Meanwhile, these two guys who had heard me speak, they had hired me
to come in and do PR for the team. So I already had a position with the
team as the first PR director in addition to my broadcasting in the city.
At this board meeting, these two guys said, “We have a new team. We need a
young presence, a new voice. Why don’t we bring someone in who has some
youth and some enthusiasm and excitement?” So the team lawyer said, “We
heard this guy speak the other night and he was really into this thing. He
was talking about a team that we didn’t even have and he got everyone all
pumped up.” The other guys in the board meeting asked who they were
talking about and they said, “Some guy Eddie who’s a local DJ.” When they
found out that I had already been hired to do PR, they said, “Well, what
When it was announced that I was the broadcaster, they pulled me aside
and told me I had to meet with the president of the team, who happened to
be a guy named Ray Patterson (who later went on to run the Houston Rockets
and his son more recently was running the Trail Blazers). I can vividly
recall going into his office and him saying, “Hey, you weren’t my choice.
I didn’t know you were a broadcaster. But I’ll tell you what. In the state
of Wisconsin we know high school and college basketball and nothing about
the pros. I am going to give you one year to figure out how to sell these
people on the game. At the end of one year if you don’t have it, you’re
1. Skyhook – I came up with that one during the double
overtime win in Game 6 of the ’74 Finals. Back in the old Boston
Garden, the broadcasts were done from the first balcony and the
balconies kind of hung over the lower loge and actually almost hung
over the floor. So you were looking straight down over the floor.
They were great seats. On that night, I can very vividly recall when
Kareem came to that baseline, Hank Finkel was playing defense – he
was the center for the Boston Celtics – and the Bucks needed someone
to score to force that second overtime. I remember Kareem getting
the ball down on the low post and then swinging back into that right
baseline, and he launched what was probably a 15-foot hook, but when
he turned into the baseline, he went up with the right hand and it
was fully extended. It almost felt like I could reach out and touch
it. It almost felt like I could see it at eye level, and it just
came to me at that time. That hook was so high that it was coming
out of the sky, and I gave it the name sky hook. 2. Twin
Towers – Everyone associates the term with Ralph Sampson and
Hakeem Olajuwon, but the original twin towers were Bill Cartwright
and Marvin Webster of the New York Knicks. I picked that up one
night when we were driving to Chicago to play the Bulls. We had been
beaten by the Knicks the night before and as we drove by Marina
City, they had two twin towers, and I was sitting on the bus looking
out the window and talking about the game and it just came to me how
Cartwright and Webster were like those towers. 3. The Cement
Mixer – My nickname for Dick Cunningham. 4. Speed Bump
– My nickname for Paul Mokeski, which his wife hated me for. He
wasn’t the most handsome guy, but I wasn’t talking about the way he
looked, but the way he played. I called him “Speedbump” because he
wouldn’t stop you, but he’d slow you down. 5. Jonny Mac –
Of course my nickname for Jon McGlocklin with the rainbow jumper.
6. The Toaster – The area in front of the basket where
the players pop up and down. 7. The Boulevard of Broken
Dreams – When a guy drives to the basket and has it rejected.
8. Broadway – I used that initially way back in ’68 to
describe the lane. 9. The Equator – The midcourt mark.
10. Cyclops – The center jump circle. 11. The
Bullseyes – The free throw area and the center jump circle.
12. Bango! – My legacy to the Bucks. When Jonny Mac hit
the rainbow jumper, my cry was “Bango!” Everybody picked that up.
When I left that city to move to the West Coast, they had a mascot
naming contest and Bango is what won. That was a fan pick and became
kind of the rallying cry. 13. Downtown – It was either a
“parking lot jumper” or a “downtown J” for the three-pointer. I used
the “homerun ball” too.
So figured, what do I
have to lose? I am just going to let it all hang out. That is when I
decided I was going to try and create something different and I created
nicknames for the players. Everybody had a nickname. Bob Dandridge was
“The Greyhound,” Greg Smith was “Captain Marvel,” Lucius Allen was “The
Rabbit,” Jon McGlocklin was “Jonny Mac,” and Dick Cunningham was “The
Cement Mixer.” I think the only guy I didn’t have a nickname for on that
team was Bob Boozer. What happened was, I created a new lexicon for
basketball which was kind of unheard of east of Chick Hearn or Bill King
who were doing the games in L.A. and San Francisco. Every game was
described with terms like “north and south,” “over the timeline,” “in the
lane,” the “three second area.” Well I changed all that stuff. The three
second area was the “boulevard,” the area in front of the basket was the
“toaster,” the corners were the “coffin corners,” the forecourt was the
In order to make it interesting and to catch people’s attention with
the nicknames, we got this thing started and what happened was it became
kind of a camp thing with the young people. The young people started
talking my language. Then I started getting phone calls from school
teachers who started complaining to me that they couldn’t understand what
the kids were talking about in school and they wanted to be educated. So I
came out with a Doucette’s Dictionary of all my terms. Over the course of
three or four years we went through over a million of them. We had Coca
Cola sponsoring them one year, Miller beer another year and the Milwaukee
area Chrysler-Plymouth dealer sponsoring another year. We circulated these
dictionaries all over. I got lucky.
Whatever I did, I did in an impression-like manner because I thought it
was fun. It was the thing I thought I had to do to create excitement and
have fun. The nickname the fans eventually gave me back in Milwaukee was
“Mr. Excitement.” I did these things not knowing how this was going to
build up in the minds of people. Well it really caught hold unlike
anything I’ve ever done in my career since then. When I go back there
today, people still know me. They still think I am doing the games. It’s
an amazing thing. When I go to the airports and hotels, the people see me
and start throwing out the nicknames because those were young people at
the time who have grown into adulthood that are now ardent Bucks
Early on most people thought I was talking a different language, but it
was all done by design to draw attention. Every night when the games were
going on and I saw something that triggered a thought in my mind, I would
throw that term out there. Back then people thought I was a little wacky.
Later on came Chris Berman and Dick Vitale. I was working with Dick back
in the late ’80s doing Indiana Pacer games and he got a hold of my
dictionary and used some of the stuff, changed it a little bit, put it on
his Rock basketball. Now it is pretty commonplace when you hear it on ESPN
all the time. But a lot of that stuff that took place when I started was a
new thing and now it’s part of the basketball presentation on radio and
TV. Imitation is really a form of flattery and I always looked at it as
being something we created to make the game interesting. When you listen
to basketball on the radio, it can become pretty up and down unless it’s a
very exciting game. TV is a different broadcast because you don’t have to
paint the picture. I used a completely different tact on TV. I tried not
When I came up, the play-by-play guy was the personality. Nowadays it’s
the analyst who is the personality and the play-by-play guy is there to
kind of frame it and lead the analyst into thought provoking answers to
questions that are meaningful. You don’t need someone in there telling you
what the play-by-play guy is going to tell you. I think the quintessential
guy doing play-by-play for basketball now would be a guy like Mike Breen.
I think he does as good a job of presenting and interfacing with this
analyst as anyone.
Hubie Brown is an interesting guy also. He was with us back in
Milwaukee in the early ‘70s when we were really a good team. In Game 6 of
the ’74 Finals – a game in which Hubie got thrown out as an assistant
coach I think – Kareem played 53 minutes in our double-overtime win. For
Game 7, Kareem couldn’t even raise his arms over this and Dave Cowens ate
him up. That series saw more games won by the opponent on the other team’s
home floor than any other series I can remember. Anyway, Hubie became a
coach in the ABA and then went on to the Atlanta Hawks. At the end of his
tenure there he was really under a lot of pressure. I went down there when
we played them and knocked them out of any playoff potential, and he
looked like he was going to collapse. I grabbed him and told him he needed
to take a break. At that point, I was doing games for USA Network, and I
told him I thought he would be great on TV. I called the president of USA
Network and that is when they hired Hubie. That was the beginning of his
TV career. He worked with us until he got the job with CBS and then later
moved on to TNT and ESPN/ABC. So I go back with a lot of these guys for
Having started with the Bucks in ’68 and leaving after the ’84 season,
I was there to see Don Nelson start his unexpected coaching career. When
he retired as a player, he had a young family and was trying to figure out
how he was going to support them. He decided he was going to try to be an
NBA referee. At that time Wayne Embry was our general manager. He and
Nellie had become very good friends. Wayne played with us in our inaugural
year. He was part of the expansion draft and was the Bucks first captain.
He stayed with the team, came on as an assistant general manager and then
became the general manager when Ray Patterson moved out to Houston in
1972. So when Don Nelson retired, he went to the West Coast to become a
referee and failed. Now he’s heading back to Boston not knowing what he
was going to do and he comes through Milwaukee. Larry Costello was our
coach, and I remember this day like it was yesterday.
It was midsummer and we were having a golf outing. Nellie was in town.
Wayne brought Nellie out to the golf outing and he was sitting out there
looking a lot like Willie Loman from Death of a Salesman, like what
am I going to do with my life. Unbeknownst to us, Wayne had offered Nellie
a job as an assistant coach working with Larry Costello. So they go to
training camp. Nellie is an assistant coach having just finished his
playing career and flunking in his attempt to become an official. Coaching
really wasn’t on his radar screen. We got off to a real rocky start that
season and Larry Costello decided to step down. Well Don Nelson was there,
and having been a member of a number of those championships in Boston,
they decided to give Nellie a shot. So Nellie gets thrown into the fire
and those first two years were rough. He had a lot of basketball
knowledge, but his bench management was tough. All the little things that
good coaches do so well, he didn’t have the skills yet. Along the way he
developed some individual skills dealing with players and using a
different style of coaching where he would kind of go against the grain.
His match-ups were different. He would do things like point-forwards,
small ball, and he would really drive other coaches crazy because he was
going against the book. As a result he developed his coaching style which
has carried him over the years. He eventually became an excellent bench
coach handling substitutions, timeouts and clock management. He developed
into a good coach and then we changed owners.
Don Nelson and our owner, Jim Fitzgerald, grew very close. Jim was a
tremendous guy. He had partners who decided they were going to sell the
team, but the caveat was they were going to keep the team in Milwaukee.
George Mikan and a group from Minneapolis offered what I think was $25
million, but Jim Fitzgerald, who was a Wisconsin guy, turned it down
saying he was going to leave money on the table and sell it to a group who
offered a lot less. The difference ended up being something like $8
million less from the local ownership group, headed by Herb Kohl. Later on
Jim became an intrinsic part of the league that David Stern went to him in
the early ‘80s at a time when the Golden State Warriors were having
problems. The owner of the Warriors at the time didn’t have a center
because their current center, Joe Barry Carroll, was playing in Italy. He
didn’t have enough money to pay the guy to bring him back to Golden State.
So, David Stern went to Jim Fitzgerald and presented the idea of doing
some financing for the Golden State team. Stern asked for Fitzgerald to
loan the Warrior owner some money and that he would be paid back at better
than the going rate of interest. By the end of the year, Fitzgerald would
be paid out. Fitzgerald agreed, but with one request – he wanted an option
to buy the team if after one year in which he would study the market and
the team, he liked what he saw. Stern acquiesced and they came to an
agreement. At the end of the year, Fitzgerald ended up buying the team.
At that point, Don Nelson decided that he wanted to go out and work for
Jim Fitzgerald, but he couldn’t because he was working for the Bucks.
Nelson eventually got out of his deal and joined Fitzgerald in Oakland.
Fitzgerald and Nelson enjoyed some great years out there before he got out
and sold the team to the present owner. When that happened, Nellie decided
he didn’t want to be a part of that group without Fitzgerald. Then Nellie
took the job with the Knicks and it was really his only failed coaching
effort. The next thing you know he was out and subsequently he ended up
going to Dallas, had a ten year run there, and then of course headed back
to Golden State where the rest is history.
But back to those early Bucks teams, which featured some great ones.
The Bucks expansion year was 1969 and we won 27 games. The second year we
just took it over the top, winning 56 games during Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s
rookie year. In the third year we won the title with Oscar Robertson
joining the team. Robertson and Kareem formed what I would eventually call
the “KO Combination” (after Kareem changed his named from Lew Alcindor).
After the ’74 run at the championship in which the Bucks lost in seven
games to Boston, Kareem had told management that he wanted to leave
Milwaukee. Unlike today’s players he did it very quietly in a very classy
manner through his representative. The Bucks tried to work out a deal to
keep him. He really wanted to go to New York, where he was from, or L.A.,
where he had gone to school. At one point Bucks’ management was looking
around the city of New York to buy him a brownstone so that he could live
in New York and commute to games. Then they decided along with Kareem that
it wouldn’t work. Kareem was a team guy and he couldn’t just fly in, let
the guys practice and then he would just participate in games. But that
was conversation for a while.
I’ve been with the NBA throughout the entire time and it one of the
greatest things that’s ever happened to me, but it will not be my legacy.
In 1975 my oldest boy got sick. It was a catastrophic disease and I had to
endure some very tough times. We worked with the doctors at the children’s
hospital in Milwaukee and as a result of our experiences, we started a
charity, which we announced the night that Jon McGlockin retired in 1976.
The charity would be for children’s cancer research in Milwaukee and we
were going to name it the Mac Fund after Jonny Mac. I wanted to have
something there that the fans would recognize and would take to. We called
it the Milwaukee Athletes Against Childhood Cancer (MACC) Fund. Since that
time it has become so big it is now the Midwest Athletes Against Childhood
Cancer Fund. I have to thank the current owner at the time, Jim
Fitzgerald, for his generosity and help assisting in the formation of a
charity game that we held in conjunction with a golf tournament. As a
result, the MAAC Fund game has been held every year with 85 to 100
additional events held and we’ve raised about $40 million. When the
charity was started, there was a 20 percent success rate for those faced
with the disease. Today, it is 80 percent. Having founded the charity
along with Jon McGlocklin, that is our legacy to the city. Our goal is to
one day not need a MACC Fund.
Eddie Doucette is a sports broadcaster and sports marketing
ambassador, with a history and style unlike any other.
He has spent nearly thirty years in the NBA, most recently completing a
seven-year tenure as the TV voice of the Portland Trail Blazers in
2000. Eddie was an original member of the Milwaukee Bucks where he
spent sixteen years on radio and television. Other NBA associations
include the Pacers, Nuggets, Clippers, USA Network and NBA Radio.
Eddie’s versatility is also unmatched, from Major League Baseball
(Dodgers, Astros, Padres, Inidians and Brewers) to NFL (Mutual Radio) and
including NCAA Football, NBA Game of the Week on USA, golf and others.
Most recently Eddie served as a Consultant for the NBA Entertainment on
the new Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, in Springfield
Massachusetts. He was the voice of the Sony-989 Sports 2002, 2003,
2004 NCAA Final Four and NBA 2006 Basketball Video Games.
Eddie is involved in many community programs and initiatives, having
co-founded Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer (MACC Fund) 30 years
Eddie is a graduate of Michigan State University and now resides in
Poway, California with his wife, Karen.
His style is one of genuine enthusiasm, boundless energy and creativity
that has helped shape the language and metaphors that define the NBA.
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