by Daniel Olsen
Since February is Black History Month, we will be focusing on the great black players in the sports history of the Beehive State. This week’s feature is Ron Boone.
Over the last few weeks, we have talked about famous black athletes in the Beehive State. Karl Malone from the Jazz and Manny Hendrix from the University of Utah were our two features from the previous Sundays in February. Now, it’s time to celebrate not only a champion in basketball, but a beloved voice in media for the state of Utah. He is none other than the radio commentator for the Utah Jazz for over 30 years: Ron Boone.
Born in Oklahoma City on September 6, 1946, Boone was small in stature. He grew up in Logan Fontenelle Housing projects in Omaha Nebraska and stood at only 5’7″ his senior year of high school. He only started on the basketball team for Omaha Technical High School in his senior season.
Because of his small frame, Boone didn’t get looks from big-time colleges. He started out his career at Clarinda Community college, where he grew to be 6’2″ and the leading scorer on the team with an average of 26 points per game.
Division I basketball at Idaho State
Thanks to his performance at the Community College level, Boone was awarded a scholarship at the Division I level with the Idaho State Bengals. He became one of the greatest scorers in Pocatello’s history during his three short seasons. Had he played all four years with the Bengals, he might have been in more record books. A decade prior, Les Roh became the leading scorer in school history with 1964 points. The record still stands to this day.
Boone finished his career with 1221 points. He started out slow with just 10 points per game his first season but increased that to over 20 points in his final two seasons. This put Boone just outside the top 10 in school history for career scoring.
After graduating in 1968, Boone finished his collegiate career with First-Team All-Big Sky Honors in his final two years, having never missed a game. He wasn’t on winning programs as the Bengals struggled to win games. However, that didn’t mean he was not a winning person. He was like the ideal employee who showed up to work early every day even if they’re not feeling great.
Mr. Consistent in the ABA
He was not without options to start his professional career. At the time, the ABA and NBA had yet to merge and both leagues wanted Boone. He was selected by both the Dallas Chaparrals of the ABA and the Phoenix Suns of the NBA; he went with the ABA.
Stint with the Utah Jazz
After spending the first half of his career in the ABA, Boone made the jump to the NBA in 1976. After spending a few seasons with the Kansas City Kings and Los Angeles Lakers, Boone spent his last couple seasons as a member of the Utah Jazz. They had just been purchased from New Orleans by Larry H. Miller, an owner of car dealerships in the state.
While more of a reserve player in his later years on the Jazz, Boone was able to leave a legacy that many fans remembered from his ABA days with the Stars prior to the merger. He played with Hall of Fame NBA players like “Pistol” Pete Maravich and Adrian Dantley. It was such a long time ago that the head coach was not Jerry Sloan or even Frank Layden. It was Tom Nissalke.
There is a reason that @1041straight is now the Twitter handle for Boone. He set a record in professional basketball for the most games played without taking a night off. He played for 13 years and never missed a game. Only AC Green has since surpassed that record with 1,092 games played.
After Professional Basketball
Boone started his broadcasting career with the Utah Jazz in 1988. He partnered alongside radio broadcaster “Hot Rod” Hundley for decades as the two became well-known for their calls of the Utah Jazz in their NBA Finals runs in 1997 and 1998.
Boone now calls the game alongside David Locke and hosts the Shoot Around Report, a fan favorite segment that airs before each game. While the Jazz warm up minutes before the tip-off of each game, the radio broadcaster hands the mic to Boone to give insight as someone with decades of NBA knowledge. He talks about what is going on with the opponent of the night and how the Jazz can take advantage.
Boone is known as a knowledgeable commentator who is more even-keeled in comparison to broadcast partners. “Hot Rod Hundley” was known for his quick pace and fun sayings like “The old cowhide globe hits home” and “you gotta love it baby.” David Locke is known in the present day for his loud voice as he cranks up the volume for a Donovan Mitchell dunk or a Joe Ingles three.
Boone proved that he didn’t need to be the most athletic, the quickest or the loudest. He just took his lunch pail to work every day and did his job. As a man with great work ethic, he embodies the blue collar culture of the Beehive State. He has proven that you can make it in Utah if you work hard enough.
During Black History month, and always, we celebrate a man who not only starred in professional Basketball, but became one of the first people of color to join the Jazz broadcasting team. Thurl Bailey has since become a commentator for the TV broadcast. Fans can vote today on Twitter for their favorite black media personality for the Jazz between the two.