Less is more: An ode to Mike Gorman's broadcasting brilliance

Less is more: An ode to Mike Gorman's broadcasting brilliance

Less is more: An ode to Mike Gorman's broadcasting brilliance originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Editor's Note: Mike Gorman will call his final regular season Celtics broadcast this Sunday at TD Garden. Tune into NBC Sports Boston at 6:30 p.m. ET on Friday, April 12 for a 30-minute special honoring Gorman's 43-year career, and tune in Sunday at 1 p.m. ET as we honor Gorman during his final broadcast.

Give a Michelin-starred chef the simplest ingredients, and they'll create an exotic feast. Strip the adverbs from our most gifted writers, and their prose still soars. Listen to a brilliant jazz singer, and it's not about the range, but the phrasing.

Then there's Mike Gorman. A list of his signature calls hardly inspires on the page. If you've never heard him lead a Celtics broadcast, you might wonder why his farewell tour has merited so much attention. Forget about Chris Berman's catchphrases or John Sterling's Latin thesaurus or Gus Johnson's histrionics (which are awesome, but I digress).

Here's Gorman at his best:

Takes it, makes it ... Sticks it ... TO THE BASKET ... All right! ... Save that one, guys ... Ballgame's over, Boston wins!

And of course:


Like Ming Tsai raiding your spice pantry, or Cormac McCarthy skipping the punctuation entirely, or Nina Simone putting a spell on you, it's not about the component parts with Gorman, but the indelible whole.

Forsberg: Gorman's familiar voice has connected generations of C's fans

Gorman's best calls are anticipatory. Not every jumper is prefaced by "takes it," for example, but the ones that are feel more likely to fall. It's reserved for an open but by no means automatic shot, the "makes it" ideally landing somewhere between expected and earned. So a tough Jaylen Brown fadeaway probably wouldn't get that treatment, but an open James Posey 20-footer off excellent ball movement would.

The "takes it" inspires an imperceptible lean forward, the "makes it" lets you sit back in Pavlovian satisfaction.

Gorman's best calls are spare. Great broadcasters like Bob Costas or prime Jack Edwards breathtakingly soliloquize in real time. Peter Drury's British soccer calls weave history and vivid imagery like instant essays.

Gorman evokes more of a Vin Scully or Pat Summerall vibe, punctuating the biggest moments and then letting the images and reactions breathe. Watch a reel of Larry Bird's game-winners, and marvel at Gorman's ability to say so much while saying so little.

After Bird's memorable corner fallaway to beat the Blazers in 1985, for instance, nearly 10 seconds elapse between Gorman's stunned, "All right!" and follow-up "Unbelievable!"

Gorman's best calls build to a crescendo. This happens in small moments, like the slight change in intonation with each pass during a well-executed offensive possession, but especially in big ones. A personal favorite is Ray Allen's game-winner against Charlotte in 2007, which might be better remembered for Tommy Heinsohn's giddy, "Look at those Bobcats! They're laying on the floor!"

Just listen to Gorman punctuate each sentence: "Pass deflected by Eddie HOUSE! Picked off by PIERCE! Ray Allen for THE GAME! GOT IT! AT THE BUZZER!"

And then, because the moment demanded a measure of incredulity: "AHH HO HO!"

Gorman's best calls mirror the intensity on the floor. An underrated standby might be, "TO THE BASKET," which sounds like it's delivered through slightly gritted teeth and conveys not just the authority with which Cedric Maxwell or Paul Pierce or Jayson Tatum just bullied their way to the hoop, but Gorman's admiration for the act – which means it's worthy of our respect, too.

But most of all, Gorman's best calls invariably end in, "GOT IT!" His signature is two direct syllables and he owes it in part to the great Johnny Most, whose style was the polar opposite – all screaming and homerism and bombast.

Most told the young Gorman he needed a handle, and after trying a few that didn't work, he naturally landed on, "Got it!" which he attributes to childhood broadcasts of Cleveland legend Joe Tait.

More on Mike Gorman's Farewell Season

Wherever it came from, it is the quintessential Gorman call, and it is the through line that connects the old Big Three to the New Big Three to Tatum and Brown today. It is so iconic that it's hard to imagine a Celtics broadcast without it.

Thankfully, it is also indelible. Gorman's Hall of Fame career may be drawing to a close, but his words aren't going anywhere. Evocative in their cadence, unpretentious in their brilliance, they're a part of Celtics history, now and forever.