45 Days to Go: Nick Nickson Builds His Legacy By Pinch-Hitting

The undisputed king of LA sports radio play-by-play deserved another moment in the sun.

“The long wait is over! After 45 years, the Kings can wear their crown!”

26 years ago, the Los Angeles Kings separated their radio and television broadcasts, and since then, one man has owned the radio booth: Nick Nickson. In a city where television broadcasting legends dominate the sporting landscape, Nickson is the only one who truly stands up to his radio counterpart. Since 1990, the Lakers have had five radio play-by-play men, the Clippers have had six, and the Dodgers haven’t had a full-time guy thanks to the incredible longevity of Vin Scully. Since 1990, it’s been Nick, aside from the occasional fill-in.

One of those fill-ins? Last season, when Bob Miller required heart surgery; Jon Rosen did an admirable job stepping in on the radio side, while Nickson returned to TV for the first time since the 1980’s. Naturally, he didn’t miss a step! (He’s always been versatile, though; did you know he was the public address announcer for the Dodgers when they won their last World Series?) In 2016, LA fans who don’t find themselves in the car on LA game nights got to find out about the lesser-known Hockey Hall of Famer calling Kings action. Nickson maintained his radio mannerisms, including stating whether the Kings were going left-to-right or right-to-left, but successfully returned to a style that better complemented the visuals his viewers were seeing. Simply put, he did everything he was asked to do, and did it well. Pair it up with a Legends Night ceremony in November, and it was a worthy season of recognition for Nickson.

Of course, nothing he did there would ever overshadow his call of the 2012 Stanley Cup  clincher. While Bob Miller went with a longer, prepared set of remarks as the clock ticked down, Nickson chose a couple of sentences which still managed to convey the cathartic nature of this title. He’s had memorable calls since then — “KINGS WIN THE GAAAAME” being a notable highlight — but because of the nature of the moment, and the fact that many (myself included) muted Doc Emrick and switched to radio for the end of Game 6 in 2012, that’s the call he’ll be remembered by. And it’s a good one.

Tomorrow: Part 2 of 2 on the voices of the Kings.