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As a long-time Lakers game analyst, Stu Lantz has seen it all, but he also used to play for the Lakers. Jim Hill chats with Stu about his time in the purple & gold, along with the privilege of working alongside the great Chick Hearn
JIM HILL: I'd like you to talk just a little bit about Stu Lantz the basketball player because you had a very distinguished basketball career before you went into the broadcast booth.
STU LANTZ: I don't know how distinguished it was, but I played in the NBA for, you know, nine-- got credited for nine years. My last year I was on the injured list with the Lakers. But prior to that, I had a couple of-- a couple pretty good years.
JIM HILL: So you knew what you were talking about when you went into the booth?
STU LANTZ: Well, I kind of understood the game as a player, and then I really didn't have any aspirations of going into the booth. Somebody said after-- right after I retired, they said that they thought I would be a good analyst. And so I immediately said, no, that's not what I'm qualified to do. My degree is in elementary education. I should be teaching third grade.
So I didn't have any background in communications. I didn't take any journalism courses or anything. All of mine was based on the educational factor of teaching.
JIM HILL: But I would say for all Laker fans, all basketball fans, we're glad that you made the choice that you made and doing what you've been doing now for a long time.
STU LANTZ: You know what? I'm kind of glad I made that decision too because I would have actually had to work for a living if I went into teaching, and I haven't worked a day in my life since I've been involved in basketball.
JIM HILL: The only person that has broadcast more Laker games than you is Chick Hearn.
STU LANTZ: That makes me old, doesn't it?
JIM HILL: No, that makes you great and experienced. That's what it makes you. It makes you a legend. That's what it does.
STU LANTZ: Well, I'm very proud to say that I'm right there with Chickie, baby, as far as he's number one in broadcasting Laker games and, as you just said, I'm number two.
JIM HILL: And a lot of times and in a lot of places, Chick was more popular than the players.
STU LANTZ: Oh, absolutely. I mean, when you think about it in the long run, when you say the word Los Angeles Lakers-- the words Los Angeles Lakers, Chick Hearn comes to mind because when he joined the franchise back in '60, you know, he was out on, like, a caravan, you know, really doing a great job of getting the audience to come to games. I mean, listening to him on the radio, that's really what turned the city of Los Angeles into Laker fans.
JIM HILL: What a wonderful opportunity it was for you to be able to work alongside him.
STU LANTZ: 15 years alongside the great one. It was so special. I remember joining him for the first time. And when I first joined, there were a lot of people that said that we wouldn't last very long together because we were so different in more ways than one. I was obviously a lot different than anything he'd ever worked with before. I've always been very outspoken, and they thought that's never going to work with Chick.
But they underestimated Chick. Chick did a great job of making me feel comfortable and making that marriage last for 15 years.
JIM HILL: You have helped pave the way for a lot of former athletes-- and I'm putting myself in that category as well-- that we can do something other than just play, and we can try and make a decent-- and have a decent career in broadcasting.
STU LANTZ: Absolutely. I mean, there's no limits to what a person can do. I mean, if you set your heart to something, you can do it. I mean, it doesn't have to be in sports or broadcasting. It can be in any field of endeavor. You just have to be dedicated to whatever the craft is. Go to work. Get the job done, and be thankful that you even have a job.