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Longtime Bulls PA announcer Tommy Edwards reflects on career before final game: ‘I’ve enjoyed every minute of it’

Saturday marks the end of an era as Bulls public address announcer Tommy Edwards will announce the starting lineup for the final time.

When Tommy Edwards heard the song “Sirius” by the Alan Parsons Project while sitting at the Biograph Theater in 1984, he knew it would be the perfect addition to the Bulls’ starting lineup introductions.

Thirty-five years later, “Sirius” remains the anchor of the Bulls’ iconic pregame intros. And though it was relatively unknown at the time Edwards heard it, it has since been incorporated into many venues’ playlists around the world.

Edwards, the Bulls’ longtime public address announcer, reinvented the way teams approach their starting lineup routines. Along with being the man who brought “Sirius” to the Bulls, he was part of the team’s decision to turn the lights off for player introductions.

He’s also known for his iconic “AAAAND NOW ...” line at the start of the intros. His signature “the man in the middle” line was a mistake his daughter loved.

“Once I said ‘the man in the middle,’ and I don’t know why I said it, but my young daughter — I think she was 7 or 8 years old at the time — [heard it and] said ‘Hey, dad, I really liked it when you said [that] — that’s really great,’ ” Edwards recalled. “And I went, ‘Really?’ And she said, ‘Yeah.’ ”

Saturday marks the end of an era as Edwards, who is retiring, will announce the starting lineup for the final time.

“My time with the Bulls has been a dream come true, and I feel so fortunate to have spent a total of 25 seasons with this iconic franchise,” said Edwards, a former Chicago radio deejay and program director who announced Bulls games at Chicago Stadium from 1976 to 1981 and 1983 to 1990, then at the United Center since 2006. “I will forever be a Bulls fan.”

With his time on the mic coming to an end, Edwards, a Kansas native who grew up a Jayhawks fan, is the guest of this week’s Chat Room, reflecting on announcing more than 1,000 Bulls games over 43 years.

First off, what made you want to get into radio and later announcing?

Tommy Edwards: “Before I even went to high school, I was very young [and] I would be in the basement of my house, and by that time we had one of those vacuum cleaners with a hose on it. And I took the hose of my mom’s vacuum cleaner and I made that my microphone. And I played music and read the newspaper as the newscast and all that, and I would listen to the radio and pictured what it must be like to be in a radio studio.”

Since you traded the vacuum hose for a real microphone, what have been some of your favorite memories with the Bulls?

TE: “The first memory that is most important to me is when I introduced the Bulls and Michael Jordan with the song ‘Sirius.’ I just knew it was going to work. . . . And then when it actually did, and the way the crowd responded to it, I just felt so good about that.

“Another memory that I have that I think I’ll always treasure is the first time Derrick Rose started. He was the one — we drafted him No. 1, and I had heard in the training camps he was just spectacular. So when we did get to see him in actual competition, it just meant so much to me, and I can still remember all of that.”

In 1990, you left the Bulls to work in radio in Boston and later Los Angeles before returning to Chicago. Do you have any regrets about stepping away from the Bulls and missing the six championships?

TE: “Well, yeah, certainly. I was certainly rooting for them, no matter where I was.And I sent emails to some of the guys that worked in the Bulls staff, telling them how much I’ve enjoyed watching the games on TV and wishing them all the best. And they’ve been very kind to me. They sent me a watch with the [Larry] O’Brien Trophy on it.”

Where do you keep your watch?

TE: ”I’ve got it in my jewelry box [laughs]. I don’t want to get it messed up. But it’s great. And the jewelry box has my name on it and the Bulls logo on it. I’ve just got some wonderful things that I treasure. . . . It’s actually in my armoire.”

You said you were nervous for your first game but ultimately made it out unscathed. Have you ever made a mistake at the United Center?

TE: “[In 2006 or 2007,] I announced [an opposing player whose first name was Justin] as ‘Justin Hayward.’ Justin Hayward is the lead singer of the Moody Blues. It just so happened I was on the radio that day and I had played the Moody Blues, and I had mentioned, ‘That’s Justin Hayward and the Moody Blues,’ so that name was in my head for the day. . . .

“And so he made a basket, and I said, ‘Basket by Justin Hayward.’ And then I thought, ‘Oh, that’s not Justin Hayward, you idiot.’ And I wondered how many people had noticed that. But nobody looked at me, nobody said, ‘Hey, that’s not his name.’ So I just kind of kept quiet and hoped nobody noticed.”

What are your emotions going into your final game Saturday?

TE: ”Bittersweet, for sure. It’s been a major part of not just my life but my family’s life of being with the Bulls. . . . The Bulls’ season is a long one, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. And when I fly back [to California] for a quick Christmas celebration or a special birthday or something like that, it’s at the point now where I want to spend more time with everybody. And so now, since we’ve sold our house, we can do this — we can now do everything that we’d been talking about.”

What’s next?

TE: “I’m going to be able to do now what my wife and I have been talking about doing for quite a long time, and that is being able to travel, and of course I can’t wait to spend more time with my grandkids and my kids out there.”

What’s the plan for your first trip?

TE: “The first trip will probably be up the coast. We really like Pismo. We think it’s one of the best-kept secrets of California. It has the beaches of southern California and the cliffs of northern California. And Monterey, which is really just a special place that we can’t wait to get to because it’s a fun place and the food is incredible there and the scenery, and it’s just a wonderful place to relax and enjoy nature.”