Toronto Raptors Announcer Herbie Kuhn on his Top Memories

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Toronto Raptors Announcer Herbie Kuhn on his Top Memories

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“All I can say is praise God, ” is what long time Toronto Raptors public address announcer Herbie Kuhn has to say when you ask him about his longevity.

“I didn’t choose this voice, God gave me this voice and to be the only PA announcer that any Raptor fan has ever heard is really weird and pretty cool.”  

In the sports business, Kuhn is in rarified space to have spent the majority of his professional life with one organization.  This season marks the 25th year he’s calling the starting lineups and buckets scored for the Raps at the Scotia Bank Arena and he’s humbled when you call him the voice of a generation of fans.  

Before he began with the Raptors, Kuhn got his big break when he got a job announcing at the FIBA Men’s World Championships when they were in Toronto and Hamilton in 1994.  That summer he worked games for 13 of the 16 participating countries. Little did he know that the tournament was his audition.  

“Those World Championships were run by John Bitove’s group, the original majority owner of the Raptors, so I was on their radar,” recalls Kuhn.  “In January of ‘95 I was announcing for the Humber College Hawks for both volleyball and basketball. One day that August, a couple of months before the season began, I got a phone call asking if I wanted to come in to talk about the position of Raptors PA announcer.  I got it and here we are 25 years later, still kicking.”

Kuhn is quick to laugh and with a personality that comes out as energetic as his delivery which almost belie his serious dedication to his chosen craft.  He’s keen on making his string of games called being “a collection of efforts which will hopefully blend together to build a legacy of professionalism, dedication and authenticity.”  Kuhn will undoubtedly be forever connected to the Raptors and for the Toronto native, who also sees duties as the team chaplain, it’s been a dream he has had the fortune of not having to wake up from.   

As the only person to be on the mic for Raptors home games (OK, he may have missed one here or there) he’s witnessed some memorable events in the more than 1000 games he’s seen.  We asked him about the memories that stand out best to him and here is his list.

Kawhi Leonard and The Shot [Vs. Philadelphia, May 12, 2019]

“I’ve borderline lost it a number of times on amazing plays but that one was a bunch of things combined.  The audacity of the play, the fact that it was against Philly who we’d gone like a heavyweight boxing match all series, the fact that is was the penultimate game of the second round of the Eastern Conference Finals and the fact he shot it over Embiid after he did his airplane deal.  That was a perfect storm.  And when that ball bounced four times and went in, bro, I just lost it!  I just kept saying “Kawhi Leonard, oh my goodness! Kawhi Leonard, oh my goodness!” and you couldn’t hear me because the place was so loud.”

Winning home opener 94-79 [Vs. New Jersey, Nov. 3, 1995]

The expansion Raptors defeated the Nets in the then-named SkyDome in front of 33,306 fans.  Alvin Robertson scored the first points in team history on a three on his way to a 30-point night.  The Nets had Ed O’Bannon, the player the crowd was cheering for to be picked by the Raptors a few months before at the NBA Draft which also held at the SkyDome, played 16 minutes scoring 4 points.  You can catch the start to Herbie’s career here.

Raptors winning over Chicago 109-108 [Mar 24, 1996]

The Raps beat the Michael Jordan-led Bulls at home despite only playing seven players and three of them playing 40 or more minutes.  Chicago would end the season with a then all-time NBA best 72-10 record on their way to their fourth of six championships with a team that also featured future Hall of Fame players Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman.  Jordan led all scorers with 36 points while Damon Stoudamire had 30 for the Raps.  As a side note, John Salley, who was signed to the Bulls after being released by Toronto earlier that season, played 19 minutes.  

The Raptors first win in the Air Canada Centre [Vs. Vancouver Feb. 21, 1999]

In front of 19,800 people, the Raptors christened their new home, the Air Canada Centre (now the Scotia Bank Arena), with a 102-87 win over the Grizzlies.  The Raptors’ Vince Carter led the way for the home team with 27 points, including the first points in the new arena’s history, on his way to being unanimously named Rookie of the Year in the lockout shortened season.  

Vince Carter goes for 51 [Vs. Phoenix, Feb. 27, 2000]

In front of 19,800 people, the Raptors christened their new home, the Air Canada Centre (now the Scotia Bank Arena), with a 102-87 win over the Grizzlies.  The Raptors’ Vince Carter led the way for the home team with 27 points, including the first points in the new arena’s history, on his way to being unanimously named Rookie of the Year in the lockout shortened season.  

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