The abysmal 2009 campaign for the Chicago Bulls took a back seat today when news broke that legendary announcer Johnny “Red” Kerr and former Bulls great Norm Van Lier passed away. The organization, and fans alike, are deeply saddened by the loss of these two Chicago-community pillars, and Kerr’s passion for Bulls basketball is something that can never be replaced.
Kerr was a Bulls staple for decades, and his unrivaled enthusiasm for the Bully Boys never floundered, even during the dark times that have engulfed this once proud franchise. Red made telecasts exciting, and that’s the bottom line. The insufferable Tim Floyd era was almost tolerable due to Kerr’s quips, humor, and bat-shit crazy reactions to good plays.
The guy had a natural flair for announcing, and I will never forget Jordan clapping powder in Kerr’s face countless times before tip-off just to get him riled up, a Chicago tradition that needs to be brought back to the city that started it (Attn Lebron: Knock it off. Imitation may be the highest form of flattery, but you’ve blatantly are claiming something that isn’t yours. If it was a “tribute,” you wouldn’t be doing fucking commercials about it).
Kerr Tribute Part One
Kerr Tribute Part Two
Kerr Tribute Part Three
Kerr Tribute Part Four
Norm Van Lier also embodied everything great about the Bulls. His charisma, sense of humor, and ability to tell it like it is made him a great TV personality also. Van Lier would rip the team when they were playing soft or gutless (which is often these days), and never backed down on his word.
I had the pleasure of meeting “Stormin” Norman a few years ago at an ESPN radio banquet, and he easily stole the show. The guy is absolutely fucking hilarious, and talked shop with a pissant like me about the Bulls for a good 20 minutes, never once looking around for someone more important, and exuded a genuine interest in my opinions.
That’s exactly who Van Lier was, the type of guy you could have a beer with, and never once realize he was a former professional basketball player, albeit 3 time All-Star.
Clip of Norm expressing his negative opinions on the Bulls
Today, I bid farewell to Kerr and Van Lier. The two are icons of my childhood, and the Bulls best make an epic playoff push over the next few weeks in honor of our fallen heroes. Sadly, in a league where players have zero loyalty to their respective organizations, we will most likely continue to fade away.
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