We used to have rivalries in the NBA. Players didn’t get techs for mean looks or other displays of passion. Regular season games meant something, and you could see emotions on the court. The mythical time I speak of is known in the history books as the 1980s. A part of the magic of the 80s was intense homerism on the broadcasts.
One of the best, most beloved representatives of that time was the Celtics commentator Johnny Most. He worked as the Celtics radio voice from 1953 to 1990 and was so electric that many Celtics fans would tune in to the radio broadcast just to hear Johnny, despite the fact they had a TV. You can even find images of fans with radios in the stand, listening to Most while in the Garden. Most had nicknames for all Celtics rivals, but he took special “care” of the Detroit Pistons.
If you listened to Most when the Celtics played the Lakers, you’d hear about “Kareem Puff” and “Crybaby Johnson.” He gave that nickname to Magic after he successfully challenged a referee’s call. The Bullets duo of Rick Mahorn and Jeff Ruland were “McFilthy and McNasty” – interchanging the two depending on the situation.
Of course, the Celtics never fouled anyone in the 47 years of his broadcasting career. On the other hand, regular basketball fouls on the Celtics were treated as criminal offenses. If you just looked in Bird‘s direction, Most’s blood pressure would spike. Fouling a Celtic was described as a “bloodbath” or “vicious mugging.”
A Celtics legend, Most got the ultimate honor when the Celtics made a permanent installation of his personal microphone at Boston Garden, silver-plated and encased in a Celtic-green frame and attached to the façade of the vantage point Most had always described as “high above courtside.”