Jim Durham, the Hall of Fame radio announcer who called NBA games for ESPN Radio, has died. He was 65.
Durham, who worked the 2012-2013 season opener between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics, joined ESPN Radio in 1996 and was recognized by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame for his talents.
Durham’s cause of death was not announced, according to ESPN Chicago.
Before joining ESPN Radio, Naismath called Chicago Bulls games on radio and television from 1973 to 1991, according to ESPN.
Bulls great Michael Jordan lamented Durham’s death, calling him “the voice of champions” in a text message sent to ESPN Chicago.
“I will miss him,” Jordan said.
ESPN employees said Durham will be sorely missed.
"Jim was a respected play-by-play specialist who combined a tremendous gift for storytelling with a Hall of Fame voice," said Mo Davenport, ESPN Radio's senior vice president and general manager. "He's been a dedicated friend and a trusted teammate to so many at ESPN for two decades, and he will be greatly missed."
"Jim was an extraordinary professional," said John Martin, ESPN executive producer, radio remotes, who oftentimes worked with Durham. "His talent for calling NBA on radio in vivid, descriptive terms was unmatched. When JD was so deservedly recognized with the Gowdy Award, he had the Hall of Fame career to go along with his long-established position as a Hall of Fame person. He was a sensational individual."
Tributes to Durham were also sent on Twitter following news of the Hall of Fame radio announcer’s death.
“It's hard to fathom we will no longer be able to enjoy the smooth pxp [play by play] of the NBA on ESPN Radio from the great Jim Durham. RIP,” wrote UConn football play-by-play announcer Joe D’Ambrosio.
“Just heard of the passing of ESPN Radio NBA voice Jim Durham. Great, great announcer #RIPJD,” wrote ESPN play-by-play announcer Dave LaMont.
“Jim Durham had one of one of a kind [sic] voices,” wrote Charlotte Bobcats play-by-play announcer Steve Martin. “A great career, much of it chronicling the Jordan years in Chicago.”
It wasn’t just colleagues of Durham who had high praise for the announcer. Fans of his play-by-play expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to listen to Durham.
“RIP Jim Durham. Loved listening to your #Bulls broadcasts,” wrote Brian Addison.
“Sorry to hear of the passing of Jim Durham. Entertained me on many drive. Great voice, great play by play man. Condolences to his family,” said Bryan O’Connor.