Landing at Hanscom Field at 2 a.m. and having to drive home in the middle of a snowstorm — after the second night of back-to-back games — is one of the least glamorous parts of my job as the sideline reporter for the Boston Celtics.
But those treacherous drives, cautiously navigating snowplows and ice patches, are some of my favorite memories covering the team, because I got to spend time with a man I’ve been lucky enough to call a friend for about a decade now: Mike Gorman.
New Englanders know Mike as the legendary voice of the Celtics, whose signature call — “Got it!” — has punctuated the team’s most memorable moments for over 40 years. With a warm, steady presence, he has a way of making every person watching at home feel like they’re part of the Celtics family.
When I first arrived in Boston a decade ago, Mike became my colleague and my carpool buddy. On those late-night car rides, I learned that the gracious and generous persona fans see on television is not an act, or just for show.
We would talk basketball, of course, but Mike was always the first to ask how I was doing, what was going on in my life. He listened intently and offered sage advice when I needed it. And, as we all know he does, he told amazing stories.
Many of those stories — about working alongside the late, great Tommy Heinsohn, his friend and longtime broadcast partner, or traveling with the team during championship runs, for example — have been sprinkled in during games over the years. I won’t rehash them, because I couldn’t do them justice. But the reality is that Celtics fans should savor them now, because, as many know, Mike has decided to step away from the microphone after this season.
To say he will be missed is an understatement the size of Kristaps Porzingis’ wingspan. It’s huge. Indescribable.
Mike Gorman called his first game as the Celtics’ play-by-play announcer, alongside Tommy, in November 1981, a matchup against the Indiana Pacers. To put his longevity into perspective, the C’s have won nearly 2,000 regular season games since then, hanging three NBA championship banners in the rafters, and seen 14 Hall of Fame players suit up in green. (Hat tip for the numbers to another legend, Dick Lipe, the stats guru for the Celtics broadcasts.)
For a kid from Dorchester, who snuck into the old Garden through back doors, Mike had reached the pinnacle, his dream job. I’ve only seen highlights, but I can assure you Mike delivered nothing short of broadcasting excellence that night — and has every game since.
Mike has etched himself in the pantheon of NBA greats with his signature wit, impeccable timing, and understated delivery. His authenticity and professionalism calling games for one of the most storied franchises in professional sports is unmatched. In 2021, Mike’s career was enshrined when the Basketball Hall of Fame honored him with the Curt Gowdy Media Award.
He was already a Celtics icon by the time I showed up on the sidelines in 2013.
For those who don’t know, I didn’t grow up in Celtics nation. When I arrived in Boston, no one in New England knew who I was or had any reason to trust me in covering their beloved team.
Mike, being an incredible teammate and leader, never made me feel like an outsider or questioned my credibility. Not only that, but I believe he went out of his way to make sure Celtics fans embraced me.
It was subtle, because Mike never does anything to hit you over the head. Early on, when he tossed down to the sidelines right before tip-off, Mike would call me “Abigail” — my given name, but not my TV name. I’d smile and call him “Michael” in return, then go on with my report. It was his way to signal to the audience that we were friends, that we had inside jokes. That you could let me in.
One of the first years I was on the sidelines, the Celtics played on Christmas Day at Madison Square Garden. Mike invited me and my family, including Mabel, our 1-year-old daughter, over for a postgame holiday dinner.
He and his wife, Teri, welcomed us into their beautiful home and stuffed us full of delicious food and wine. Afterward, as NBA games rolled on in the background, Mike sang Mabel to sleep with his guitar, a new hobby he’d picked up in the offseason.
Though our carpool was short lived — my second child pushed our family out to the suburbs — Mike and I have always sat next to each other on the team plane.
A former aviator in the United States Navy, Mike’s routine whenever he gets on the plane is to check in with the pilots. He asks about the air, turbulence, flight time. He is usually one of the first people to board. I am one of the last. And, on so many flights, Mike has been there waiting to tell me what to expect and how tightly I need to buckle my seat belt. I appreciate the information and feel lost without it when he’s not there.
I actually don’t remember much about my first game on the sidelines for the Celtics. It was a preseason game at TD Garden and I was a ball of nerves, literally shaking. And, while I’m sure Mike had no idea what to expect from me, he trusted me. Moments before I went live for the first time, Mike looked me in the eye, gave me a fist bump, and said, simply, “Have a good game.”
Those words, that reassuring fist bump, steadied me and gave me the confidence I needed to get to the next game. Strong and sure. A rock. Mike has been that for me in life and in the hundreds of games we’ve called together since.
The loss of hearing Mike’s voice in my ear on game nights will be profound. A loss I am not yet ready to accept.
Recently, though, during our annual preseason picture day, I asked Mike if he was sad about it being his last one. Without hesitation, he shook his head, smirked, and told me, “No.” Understated, yet reassuring, as always. He’s ready to step back and enjoy his family and life outside of basketball.
So, like he did for me all those years ago, I have to trust him.
Abby Chin is a sideline reporter for the Boston Celtics on NBC Sports Boston. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.