I haven’t listened to Joe Tait call a full basketball game in years.
I got cable and DVR and kids and listening to games on the radio stopped making sense.
There was also a time in my life when I didn’t have cable and DVR and kids and I was just discovering basketball. Joe Tait was my teacher.
I fell in love with the game and the Cavaliers in 1989 when I was 9 years old and sat with my dad and watched for the first time on WUAB/43. I discovered Joe Tait shortly after when my parents bought me a clock radio and I figured out that I could lay in bed and listen to games without them knowing - or at least they pretended not to know.
My favorite Cavaliers season will always be 1991-92. Joe and I went through that season together. I sat in my room in the dark trying to muffle cheers and fight the urge to jump up and down. Joe sat in some arena somewhere, and I like to think he tried to do the same.
When the Cavs beat Miami by 68 that season, it was Joe Tait that told me. When Mark Price returned from the injury that ended his season a year earlier, Joe Tait let me know he was back. When the Cavaliers beat Boston in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, I ran up to my room so I could hear Joe call the closing seconds. I still remember the call, word-for-word.
When you live in a home without cable, you sit in your parents’ living room, 1950’s style, in front of their stereo to listen to games. You plan your day around it. You imagine the plays in your mind. You take mental notes so you can match the call with the highlight on the 11:00 news. Oftentimes, the former was better.
Anyway, Joe Tait’s calling it quits after tonight’s game. I have a lot of good memories of his calls. So do a lot of other people in Cleveland. I’ve never heard a bad word said about the man in a business where a lot of bad things get said about a lot of people.
I don’t know if the Cavaliers will ever win an NBA championship. I hope they do. Either way, my best Cavs memories will always involve Joe Tait telling me that Mark Price just put a “three in the air…Got it!”