Ian Eagle, Bill Raftery’s First Nets Game Outshined By Arrested Toronto Raptor

Getty Ian Eagle and Bill Raftery

If you hadn’t gotten the memo, Ian Eagle is a living legend and basketball broadcasting icon.

Thursday night, the Brooklyn Nets honored the legendary sportscaster, for being the team’s play-by-play broadcaster for 25 years.

Eagle, a six-time Emmy Award Winner & four-time New York State Sportscaster of the Year, Eagle became the radio voice of the Nets in 1994, before moving into the television slot the following year.

YES Network celebrated Eagle’s career with a montage video of flashback footage, highlights, and tributes that were broadcast during Thursday night’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Nets General Manager Sean Marks and BSE Global CEO Brett Yormark presented him with a commemorative framed #25 jersey on-court during last night’s loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

The early years of Nets broadcasts with Eagle were exciting to watch; they still are! 

For many years, Eagle and former Seton Hall University basketball coach-turned broadcaster, Bill Raftery formed the dynamic duo of Nets play-by-play and color commentary on the now-defunct SportsChannel.

They’d later move to Fox Sports Network New York before moving over to YES Network.

Bird and The Raf were poetry in motion.


March Madness: Final 4 Spotlight on CBS Sports Hoops Analyst Bill RafteryKentucky, Wisconsin, Duke and Michigan State are the teams remaining in the NCAA tournament. The Final Four begins this week and one of the key broadcasters in the tournament, Bill Raftery, caught up with The Source.2015-03-30T05:47:46.000Z

Raftery’s ‘onions,’ ‘a little nylon’ ‘send it into Jerome,’ was a thing,

Eagle’s ‘that’s a man’s jam,’ ‘six seconds difference-shot-clock-to-game clock,’ was also A THING!

The two also partnered on NCAA March Madness broadcasts over the years.

Being on camera together for forever and a day, begs the million dollar question: Do you two actually remember your first broadcast together?

Writing their responses in feature form wouldn’t do this article justice.

Check out our Q&A below:

Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: So, do you guys remember your very first broadcast (together)?

Ian Eagle: I do yes.

Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Tell me about it.

Bill Raftery: You mean official?

Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Yeah.

Ian Eagle: The first official broadcast was in Toronto, it was the Nets and the Raptors and the sidebar to the broadcast the Raptors first NBA game

Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: ’95.

Ian Eagle: They beat the Nets at Skydome, and it happened to coincide with Alvin Robertson who had been arrested earlier that day on an assault charge and our producer –

Bill Raftery: Arraign, arraign.

Ian Eagle: Arraigned on an assault charge, and who do we get as our post-game guest?

Bill Raftery: He has a triple-double, like just what we need and we have to interview him.

Ian Eagle: Alvin Robertson sits between us, post-game guest, and it’s my first game on television and our producer Steve Danz is hitting me in my IFB saying “Ian, ya gotta ask him about the situation”

Bill Raftery: (chimes in) “ask him”

Ian Eagle: So we ask him about the game, Bill asks him about the game and now I say “Alvin, the arrest warrant earlier today…” and he starts looking and he says, “My lawyers have told me I cannot answer that question and we’ll just let the process play out” and then Bill’s next question-

Bill Raftery: Remember? So here’s- it goes like this…

Ian Eagle: He moves his chin (laughs).

Bill Raftery: He stares like this, and he’s in the middle-

Ian Eagle: And he shifts his chair the other way so it’s like I’m not even there (laughs) and Billy, his follow up question is… “Alvin, a triple-double, you’re back baby!” and that was it he did not take any more of my questions and that was the end.

Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: You guys are giving me flashbacks because I remember my days with the Nets and you guys were on Sports Channel.

Ian Eagle: Sports Channel, yes.

Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Sports Channel, what were those days like? You went from Sports Channel to Fox Sports.

Ian Eagle: We had no idea how many people were actually watching so we just were trying to be entertaining for one another, truly, and realized when Jason Kidd came to town that people actually started to watch. And it was the first time that I can recall that viewers started to respond. Bill and I felt like we had chemistry from day 1 but we got very little reaction for the first four years of being on the air together and when Kidd got there that changed everything. People started to catch on that we had a nice dynamic and a funny back and forth and relationship and its carried over into our CBS days 20 years later, that’s hard to believe that that much time has passed.


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