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Gerould: The Voice of the Kings

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Gerould: The Voice of the Kings

Get an in-depth look at Kings Radio Play-By-Play Announcer Gary Gerould’s remarkable career and time-tested preparation method. Plus, Napear and Reynolds share their favorite G-Man anecdotes.

“On the end line, Mike Bibby ready to put it in play – 91-90, Lakers by one in Game 5, series tied at two. Here’s Bibby ready for the inbound, pops it into Webber, back to Bibby. He stops, he fires from 20 – he’s got the bucket with eight seconds to go! And the Kings take the lead, 92-91!”

***

Longtime Kings Radio broadcaster Gary Gerould’s myriad of unforgettable and illustrious game-calls – including Bibby’s celebrated game-winner on May 29, 2002 – never cease to give goosebumps to diehard Kings fans – who undoubtedly remember where there were and what they were doing as a transcendent moment unfolds.

“When I think of my childhood and the Kings, he’s always there – car rides, listening to the radio at home – I still hear him in my memories,” says Kings fan Shannon Parrington, calling ‘G-Man’ an icon and institution. “As a kid, I used to hide my radio under the covers so I could listen to games without waking up my parents. He is the Kings in my book.”

***

An hour before he’ll settle into his familiar spot on Press Row for a late November game at Sleep Train Arena, Gerould is sitting at center court – dressed in a black suit with a silver tie, his gray hair impeccably combed – as he closely absorbs it all as players hoist up jumpers and practice go-to moves during warm-ups.

Providing profound insight on his storied career, he explains the key to calling a game on the radio – one he says young, aspiring broadcasters commonly omit because they’ve grown up on TV – is painting a picture for the listener to envision, describing everything from the direction the basketball is going to uniform colors.

“The analogy I’ve made for years is that in television, you’re a passenger on the bus – you’re just along for the ride – the picture dictates everything,” he says. “In radio, you’re driving the bus. You have to create the picture, and it’s the big challenge, I think, for a good radio broadcaster.”

Now in his 28th season as the Kings flagship play-by-play announcer, Gerould’s voice is widely recognized and discernible to fans and players in Northern California.

“I’ve listened to and watched Gary for a long time, being from this area,” says Modesto, Calif. native Chuck Hayes. “I used to watch Kings games and he hasn’t aged a bit.

“We talk about the game, being a pro, and how if you do right to this game, this game will do right to you. He’s been around basketball for so long – just talking to him about the game itself is very helpful.”

“He’s a true professional,” adds Jason Thompson. “He’s The Voice of Sacramento, and he’s been here since Day 1.”

***

“The inbounds pass goes on the left angle. Gay has it, off to Mayo – hits a desperate shot at the top of the circle. 1.5, no timeouts, to Tyreke at midcourt – he’ll try to win it on a 45-footer. Oh, he’s got it! Hits the triple from midcourt … an unbelievable shot has the Kings dancing in delight and the fans just going absolutely crazy! Oh my, what a moment. Here comes DeMarcus, high-fiving, laying face down, full-out on the table, running back to mob his teammates!” – Gerould, Dec. 30, 2010.

***

In the digital age of constant technological advancements and ever-growing computer and smartphone reliability, Gerould’s tried-and-true preparation process is remarkably unique in its handcrafted traditionalism.

“I’m a creature of habit, so I’m old school, I guess,” he says. “I started years ago, making a chart or a form for every team and every game, and I continue to in very much the same fashion that I have, with some refinements over the years. It gives me fingertip information and knowledge relating to each team and each player on the roster and the coaching staff.

“Maybe building that chart takes three to four hours the first time around. I put all the pertinent numbers that may change over the course of the year in pencil, and then as we face an opponent for the second, third or fourth time, I update the stats so that they’re current.”

By the end of the season, each of the 29 manila folders – which contain everything from team home, road and overtime records to recent scores to training staff tidbits – will be covered with tape, eraser marks and cross-outs as NBA squads are altered throughout the year.

“We get on the plane after a game and within 30 minutes he has his table out, he has his notes out and all of his pencils and his markers,” says Kings TV Play-By-Play Announcer Grant Napear, calling Gerould the most prepared broadcaster he’s worked with during his career.

“Whereas a lot of announcers now have gone to the Internet and computers to make their stat sheets for them, he still does everything by hand. He’s very meticulous. It’s a system that works well for him, and from what I can tell, he hasn’t deviated from it since I’ve known him.”

Kings Director of Player Personnel Jerry Reynolds shares a similar sentiment about his longtime teammate’s steadfast work ethic.

“I just always enjoy watching Gary after games,” says Reynolds. “We’ll get on the plane and he’s already going through his routine with his folder, working for hours by putting all his stats in or little notes. He’s just a remarkable professional.

“Gary Gerould is, in my opinion, the absolute best radio play-by-play basketball guy there is and has been for years. His skill is unmatched. He’s brilliant. If you’re listening to the game, you know what’s going on just like if you were watching it on TV. Kings fans are very fortunate to have him.”

***

“All right, here we go – ball game on the line, 10 seconds left, 92-90, Boston up by two. Jim Jackson, nearside, frontcourt to our right, to put it in play. Bounce entry pass goes to Bibby, Webber sets the pick, Bibby drives, throws to Webber. Webber’s going to shoot the three … and he scores it! Chris Webber hits the three-pointer!” – Gerould, April 4, 2003.

***

Long before Gerould established himself as one of the most respected broadcasters in sports, at age 11, the Midland, Mich. native’s second home became a local radio station after his father passed away and his mother fell ill.

“From as young as I can ever remember, I wanted to be a sports broadcaster,” he reflects. “I had a paper route for seven years through high school. On long, snowy Michigan nights, I’d be out there, trudging around in the dark, delivering papers and calling basketball games in my head.”

After befriending many of the local evening DJs, Gerould earned his first radio experience at age 14, when he had the opportunity to sit-in during broadcasts. In high school he began hosting his own weekly show and then called various collegiate events at Anderson University in Indiana.

“I’m a big believer in paying your dues,” he explains. “When I was a student in college, there were only three or four universities in the entire nation that had a broadcasting curriculum. Now, you can go to virtually any junior college and get involved to some degree in broadcasting, so it’s really, really competitive.

“I tell young people who come to me and want advice, ‘If you can go to a small market – if it’s radio, if it’s television – get your feet wet, really learn the nuances and the business of your craft, there’s no substitute for practical experience as opposed to classroom experience.’”

After moving to Chico, Calif. with his wife to pursue a professional radio career at KHSL, Gerould gained even more training than he envisioned in his first full-time gig.

“While I was there, their sister television station began doing local news and sports for the first time, and they wanted to know if I was interested,” recalls Gerould, who called Chico High and Chico State sporting events during his tenure. “I had no TV background whatsoever, but what I ended up doing was sitting in front a camera for five minutes every night, basically doing a radio sportscast, except to a camera, slowly learning a little about television.”

In 1963, Gerould transitioned to Sacramento, where he worked as a sportscaster at KCRA-TV for a dozen years, launching his distinguished, multifaceted career. In addition to calling more than 2,000 Kings games, he has routinely covered motor sports – working full-time on the NHRA drag racing circuit for the last eight years – as well as the Olympics and NFL.

“I worked at NBC as an independent contractor for a lot of years and I had opportunities to do things all over the world and at quite a variety of events,” he says. “For whatever reason, they just picked me to be the cycling guy for the (1988) Olympics. So for three or four years prior, I’d go to major cycling events and a handful of international competitions – sometimes to observe, sometimes to actually do shows.

“(During that time) anthology shows were big on network TV, with ABC’s ‘Wide World of Sports’ and NBC’s ‘Sports World.’ I did everything from sumo wrestling to bowling to skeet shooting to cycling – all kinds of off-the-chart type sports as well as NFL football and college basketball.”

At NBC, Gerould fulfilled one of his career goals by calling his first of what would go on to be more than 50 NFL games during an eight-year span.

“It was a lifelong dream of mine to be able to do NFL football, and my first opportunity was a game at the Orange Bowl between the Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos,” he says. “After it was over, I went back to my hotel room, I sat there and I just broke down. It was just so emotionally satisfying, and I thought, ‘If I never get a chance to do this again, I’ve achieved something I’ve always dreamed about being able to do.’”

Not only did Gerould receive many additional opportunities, he gained even more confidence in his ability after drawing high-praise from one of the most distinguished and well-respected sportscasters.

“We were in New York doing a game and I happened to run into Dick Enberg, who in my mind is way up on there on the Mount Olympus of broadcasters,” says Gerould. “He said, ‘Listen, I had a chance to listen to you last weekend. You are the best kept secret we have in this building.’ I remember it to this day, and it remains right up there with the nicest things anybody has ever said to me, because I respect Dick Enberg so much.

“Now, that was in the early 1980s and when the Kings came here in ’85-86, I hadn’t done basketball for about 15 years,” continues Gerould. “Really, that was another dream come true, to be able to be a part of the NBA and to just soak up the whole environment – the life, the travel and the athletes.”

***

“101-101, 20 seconds to go. Kings have two timeouts, but they’re going to play it down. Les on top, Motta dancing in front of us, right angle. Simmons to Mays, baseline to Carr – shoulders into the paint, throws it on the glass. Way too hard, no good! Gets his own rebound. Grabbed by Wennington, put-back, no good. Grabbed out on top by Wennington – two seconds – to Mays. It’s up … it’s in! As the horn sounds! The Kings get the win!” – Gerould, Feb. 12, 1991.

***

Gerould says he’ll never forget the magical atmosphere as fans enthusiastically embraced the Kings when the team first arrived in the River City.

“When the Kings came to the West Coast, while they were still playing in Kansas City, they scheduled a practice in Sacramento at American River College,” he recalls. “Almost an hour before practice was to take place the place was packed to the point you couldn’t move.

“When old school Kings like Eddie Johnson, Larry Drew, Mark Olberding, Reggie Theus and Mike Woodson came out on the floor to stretch, they looked around and their eyes lit up like, ‘What is going on here?’ They couldn’t believe it! There was a standing ovation as they were stretching and as they started to jog on the sidelines to loosen up – it was almost surreal.”

Over the years, Gerould has built genuine rapport with many past and present Kings stars.

“That early group, those were really special times because I was much younger and there wasn’t the generational gap between me and the current players,” reminisces Gerould. “We’d have holiday get-togethers at our home, and it was not uncommon every year to have three, four or five players show up and bring their families.”

In addition to later building ties and trust with the likes of Chris Webber and Vlade Divac, Gerould became close friends with center Bill Wennington.

“(When) Bill went to Italy, his wife was pregnant with their first child and my wife became her labor coach,” says Gerould. “My wife was with her in the delivery room. Young Robbie Wennington is now, I think, a junior in college and he’s 6-foot-8 and 240 or 250 pounds.”

To this day, the broadcaster appreciates the openness and charismatic personalities of Kings players, who have in turn valued Gerould’s sterling professionalism, positivity and sage advice.

“He’s a very good guy – I’ve talked to him during interviews and I’ve talked to him a little bit outside (of the locker room),” says Jimmer Fredette. “He’s (told me), ‘Your time will come, so be ready for it and just continue to do what you’re doing.’”

“He’s just an overall great dude and he cares about you – everything I can say is all positive,” adds Isaiah Thomas.

***

“The inbound goes all the way to the backcourt, Isaiah tips it away – Isaiah with the steal! He lobs it ahead to John Salmons. Salmons with the reverse! Kings take the lead, 6.8 seconds to go. The amazing leaping ability of Isaiah Thomas once again comes to the forefront with a brilliant defensive stab on an inbounds pass that was supposed to go to a safety valve in the backcourt. But Isaiah had other notions – he grabbed it, he flipped it to Salmons, and Salmons with a twisting reverse puts the Kings on top at 99-98.” – Gerould, March 8, 2012.

***

Since joining the Kings Broadcast Team, Gerould’s guidance has helped players and colleagues alike.

“When I started, he was doing TV … I didn’t have any training, so he really was very patient with me,” remembers Reynolds, who has also twice served as Kings Head Coach during Gerould’s tenure. “We’d do a lot of takes on our pregame stuff – we’d do it four or five times. I know it had to be frustrating for him because he could do it in one take, but he was really helpful, giving me ideas on when to jump in, and I don’t think I would’ve made it without him.”

“He leads by example,” affirms Napear. “The best thing he’s done for me is (allow me) to see his preparation and what makes him so good and so well-liked. You’d be foolish not to look at that and then say to yourself, ‘Wow, that’s a winning formula.’

“I don’t have enough superlatives and great adjectives to describe Gary. As good of a broadcaster as he is, he’s twice the person. He’s a class act, consummate professional (and since) I’ve been traveling with him now for 25 years, he almost feels like a part of my family.”

Free Throws

– Working closely with Gerould for over two decades, Reynolds recounts a rare occasion when the eloquent broadcaster was once tongue-tied.

“I’ve never seen him with his hair out of place in 28 years,” says Reynolds with a chuckle. “We were playing a game against the Detroit Pistons in the old Silverdome, (where) there’s this big vacuum thing. So as we were walking out, the vacuum just sucked his hair all over his head. I just couldn’t help it – I laughed my butt off and everybody there just busted up, (while) he didn’t know what to do!”

– Napear says in addition to being impressed with the broadcaster’s preparation on plane rides, he’s marveled at Gerould’s longstanding fondness for desserts, noting the ‘G-Man’ has unrelentingly succumbed to the smell of freshly-baked cookies.

“We’ve traveled hundreds of thousands of miles together, and not one time in 25 years on one flight has he ever let the cookie tray go by without grabbing a cookie,” says Napear. “Not once has the ‘G-Man’ ever said, ‘No, thank you.’”

And One

– When he isn’t diligently preparing for his radio and TV appearances, Gerould may take in a novel, listen to music or play a seldom round of golf. More likely, however, he’ll tune-in to various sporting events, endlessly honing his craft.

“If we’re not playing, I’m home watching League Pass and I’m watching a whole variety of games,” he says. “I’m watching the baseball playoffs, I’m watching NFL football, I’m watching college football, I’m watching the Tour de France. I love to watch pre-race and pregame shows, and I like to learn and get a sense of the announcing team – what they consider important and how they’re approaching a particular contest.”

  • df4liife

    FIRE ‘smart’

    Free Jimmer.

    Here’s an interesting stat ..Despite the fact that Fredette is never rewarded
    for his great play and in fact often punished for playing well….he STILL is
    the 5th leading PG in the NBA in points per 48 minutes.

    Of the top 10 PG’s in scoring per 48 minutes the average playing time for the
    other 9 (besides Fredette) is 32 MINUTES!!
    WHY DOESNT he EVER say anything about smarty’s ABUSE of Fredette?

    Fredette is the only other top 10 scorer that plays less than 15
    minutes…Nate Robinson comes in at the least amount of playing time after
    Fredette,, He gets 25 minutes per game!!!

    Fredette is also the 4th best 3 pt shooter for PG’s in the NBA . (12th overall
    in the NBA shooting better than Novak, Ray Allen and Kevin Durant)

    The avg playing time for the other top 9 is 28 MINUTES per game…

    Fredettes avg Playing time? 13 minutes ( doesnt include dnp’s)

    This clearly illustrates that Fredette is being ABUSED BY
    “smart”…….

    It also indicates that Fredette on a real NBA team with a real coach and teammates
    would be a lights out player avg25 ppg and 7 to 10 assists,,,

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