The NBA lost a well-loved and well-respected broadcaster earlier today. Joe Tait, who was the primary radio voice of the Cleveland Cavaliers for nearly 40 years, died on Wednesday after a lengthy battle kidney disease and liver cancer. He was 83.
Tait will always be remembered for what he did in the broadcast booth in Cleveland. His tenure with the franchise began at its inception in 1970, and apart from a two-year dispute with ownership, lasted until 2011. During the span, the legendary broadcaster saw the organization through plenty of ups and downs.
Perhaps the highlight of his career with the Cavs came in 2007, when a young LeBron James led Cleveland to the NBA Finals. Tait got to cover every moment of it and bring thousands of fans closer to the action as the franchise competed for it its first ever title.
But, the long-time team broadcaster also was around for the years of Cavaliers heartbreak. Tait was on-hand for the legendary Michael Jordan buzzer beater in 1989, dubbed “The Shot”, that sank a talented Cleveland team.
The Cavaliers released an official statement on Wednesday evening, mourning the loss of Tait.
“The Cleveland Cavaliers mourn the passing of one of our beloved founding fathers and the original, long-time voice of the franchise – Joe Tait.
“From the team’s inception in 1970 through the next four decades, the Basketball Hall of Famer informed, entertained and inspired generations of Cavs fans – painting a picture of the game with an unmatched mix of passion, precision and humor.
“A dedicated husband and father – generous with his talent and spirit – Joe received every major sports broadcasting award there is over the course of his career in Northeast Ohio. And like some of the most legendary Cavaliers he chronicled, Joe joined them with his own banner hanging in the rafters of Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
“A friend and mentor to many over the years, Joe Tait wasn’t just a member of the Cavaliers family; he was a part of the Cavs story like no one else and his voice and unique, candid perspective reverberates throughout the team’s history. He will be dearly missed.”
The Cleveland Cavaliers mourn the passing of one of our beloved founding fathers and the original, long-time voice of the franchise – Joe Tait.
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) March 10, 2021
Tait was rewarded for his impressive career and was inducted into Naismith Hall of Fame media wing in 2010.
An outpouring of support from fellow reporters, Cleveland players, and more, poured in after the new of Tait’s passing. Unsurprisingly, the broadcaster was revered around the NBA, demonstrating his far-reaching impact on the game of basketball.
RIP to Joe Tait. A man that I emulated in my backyard growing up when shooting hoops, to a man who was so huge in my development in this business. Always honest n sincere to me, and REAL! My heart hurts today as if I lost a family member.
— Andre Knott (@DreKnott) March 10, 2021
“Price into the forecourt, on the right wing. Price over to Ehlo, hands the ball to Nance, wham with the right hand!”
The sounds of my youth. RIP, Joe Tait. A Cleveland treasure.
— Jason Lloyd (@ByJasonLloyd) March 10, 2021
Not Joe Tait too 😔
— Larry Nance Jr (@Larrydn22) March 10, 2021
So sad to hear of Joe Tait’s passing. He was such a pro and someone that gave back .. he took the time to write a critique of my work in college. He didn’t have to do that, but he did. It’s the kind of guy he was. He’s had a huge influence on so many of us. RIP, Joe 🙏
— Al Pawlowski (@AlPawlowski) March 10, 2021
Our thoughts are with Tait’s family and friends during this difficult time.