George Blaha, the Detroit Pistons‘ legendary longtime television play-by-play announcer, will miss the rest of the 2021-22 NBA season due to a heart bypass procedure that will take place Tuesday. Doctors diagnosed Blaha, in his 47th season calling Pistons games, during a routine check-up during the last week.
“I am disappointed to miss the remainder of the season, but my health is the number one priority right now and I have a great team of doctors guiding my short-term and long-term health,” Blaha said in a statement. “I’m grateful that they caught my issue early and they expect a full recovery. I look forward to getting back to full speed with rest and rehabilitation during the offseason and returning next year for my 47th season calling games for the Pistons.”
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Blaha, who will turn 77 on March 26 and was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 2008, called his first game for the Pistons in 1976. He’s well-known by fans for his iconic catchphrases, such as “Count that baby and a foul,” and has called more than 3,200 Pistons games.
He’s also the longtime play-by-play voice for Michigan State football.
“George is part of our family and he and his wife, Mary, have our full support every step of the way,” Pistons owner Tom Gores said in a release. “George is in the best of care and in great spirits. We join his many fans, friends and colleagues in wishing him a full and speedy recovery.”
Johnny Kane, the Pistons’ and Tigers’ reporter for Bally Sports Detroit, has filled in for Blaha in the past alongside longtime color commentator Greg Kelser.
“My thoughts and prayers go out to George,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said before Sunday’s game vs. the Los Angeles Clippers. “One of the best in the business and has seen almost everything in the business, both college and pro’s. … We’re going to miss him the rest of the season.”
The Pistons (18-49, third-worst in the NBA) have 15 games left in the season, including Sunday at home against the Clippers (3 p.m.).
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