A former player and coach who became a household name after becoming basketball’s most colorful and outspoken announcer.
“I learned from my mom and dad, who didn’t have a formal education, but had doctorates of love. They told me that if you gave 110% all the time, a lot of beautiful things will happen. I may not always be right, but no one can ever accuse me of not having a genuine love and passion for whatever I do.”
A colorful basketball announcer, given to creating wild catch phrases and hoops terms, Dick Vitale parlayed a successful coaching career into an ultra-successful broadcasting career.
After a fine career as a high school coach in New Jersey, Vitale moved to Rutgers as an assistant coach for two successful seasons. He turned that stint into a head-coaching job at Detroit, where he coached from 1973-77, running up a .722 winning percentage. In April 1977, he was named the athletic director at the school, and he served in that role for one year before taking on the coaching job for the NBA’s Detroit Pistons.
He spent that one season in the NBA, but his contacts in the game and his irrepressible personality suggested a natural transition to TV. Vitale was an announcer on the very first hoops contest broadcast on the fledgling ESPN, on December 5, 1979.
Since then, he has broadcast well over 1,000 contests, on both the professional and collegiate levels, while also doing some Olympic coverage. His popularity as an announcer has also allowed him to portray himself in three films: “Naked Gun,” “Hoop Dreams” and “Love and Basketball.”
A one-of-a-kind broadcaster, Vitale has been elected to five Halls of Fame, including the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame, which he entered in 2001. He’s also a member of: the Elmwood Park, NJ, Hall of Fame; the Michigan Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame; the University of Detroit Hall of Fame; and the Florida Sports Hall of Fame.