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Tribute to Johnny Hoops

WFUV's James Decker interviews Johnny Hoops as Mike Breen looks on. Credit: WFUVSports

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From the  WFUV Sports LogoArchives

By Bob Ahrens

There was a funeral at the Fordham University Church this past Tuesday. The family and friends of one of Fordham’s best  and  brightest… and more importantly nicest and kindest…came to pay their respect to long time Knicks’ color analyst John Andariese, or Johnny Hoops, as he was known to his legion of fans.

NBA Royalty was present as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and former broadcast partners Mike Breen and Marv Albert shared their memories and spoke fondly of John.

I knew John for a little more than 45 years and in August of 2104 was privileged to be at the Basketball Hall of Fame when he was honored with the Curt Gowdy Award for broadcasting excellence.

Below is an article from WFUV’s James Decker who covered the event.  It is followed by comments from WFUV’s coverage of the event by former NBA Commissioner David Stern, broadcast partners Mike Breen and Marv Albert, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and President of the Basketball Hall of Fame John Dole.

By James Decker

On the night of Friday, August 8th, 2014,  in Springfield, Massachusetts, Fordham University alum John Andariese received the Curt Gowdy Media Award for Electronic Media. Andariese was a member of the Fordham Rams basketball team from 1956-1960, and played in two NIT’s. Andariese broadcasting career began when he did color commentary alongside Marv Albert for Knicks radio broadcasts in 1972, and was on the radio until 1986. Andariese then worked on television for MSG also alongside Marv Albert from 1986-1997, before returning to radio as a color commentator until 2012. He was also the host of a show on NBA TV called “NBA Legends with Johnny Hoops”.

When he was announced as the award winner, Marv Albert (1997 Gowdy Winner) and Adam Silver both spoke about Andariese. Both Albert and Silver shared stories about Johnny Hoops, which were not only about who he was on-air but the type of person he was off the air. There was also an entertaining video tribute of Andariese which highlighted some of his famous calls and also some behind the scenes outtakes. After asking Marv Albert about what it meant for him to see Johnny Hoops receive the award that he once received he said “I was so delighted, he’s deserved it for many years. Not only was he a terrific broadcaster but he was a great guy to work with.” Mike Breen called it “one of the nicest nights I’ve ever been a part of because {Andariese} is a guy who’s given his life to the game of basketball.” Breen also noted with a smile “And he’s a Fordham guy.”

When speaking to Marv Albert, Adam Silver, and Mike Breen after the ceremony I noticed that they all agreed that Andariese was able to put the game in terms that every fan could understand.  “He translated the game into lay-person’s terms” Silver said. “He made the game understandable”. Breen added, “He had a wonderful way of explaining the game in simple terms. He was an expert with his knowledge, but he explained things in a way that everyone could understand.” Marv Albert had a similar compliment for Andariese when he said “not only was he knowledgeable with such a love for the game, but the way he could break it down so the fans could understand the fundamentals, and he also had a great sense of humor which is important in broadcasting”

The President of the Basketball Hall of Fame John Doleva said “When you give out these type of awards you want to pick the right people, and there was so much support for John. He’s a wonderful guy who’s contributed so much to the growth of the game.”

There’s no doubt that Johnny Hoops has made a profound impact on people and on the game of basketball. He was not only a tremendous color commentator but a well-respected individual who brought out the best in people and will leave lasting impressions on everyone he has met.

Audio from interviews with Marv Albert, Mike Breen, Adam Silver, and John Doleva are below. 

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