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Joe Tait died Wednesday at 83. If you were unfamiliar with his work, that’s totally understood. He was synonymous, except for two seasons, with the Cavaliers, its first radio voice in 1970 and until he retired in 2011. But for one NBA season, 1981-82, he was ours, calling Nets’ games on WVNJ and WWRL, stations with such limited signals and impact Tait’s calls could barely be heard in the parking lot. But he was, according to sports radio historian David Halberstam, “among the very best to call games on radio. You just closed your eyes and he transported you to the game. You saw it all.”
Joe Tait, the legendary "Voice of Cleveland Cavaliers" basketball for the bulk of their first four decades of existence, has died at the age of 83. His daughter Karen confirmed the news on Facebook, saying her father passed away peacefully in his sleep at his home in Lafayette Township Wednesday afternoon. The longtime broadcaster had been battling numerous health problems for years.
While at Monmouth, he befriended the head basketball coach at another small college, and when that coach later got a job in the NBA, Tait wrote to congratulate him and joked that he was available to help, if needed. That coach was none other than Bill Fitch, the man chosen to lead the expansion Cavaliers in 1970. He asked Tait to audition for the role as the team's radio play-by-play voice, and the organization eventually hired him with their inaugural season already under way.
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