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Ireland embraces new gig

Irrelevant Week

CdM alumnus, emcee at Lowsman banquet, will be Lakers' radio play-by-play guy, if there is no lockout.

June 22, 2011|By Steve Virgen, steve.virgen@latimes.com
(Don Leach, Daily…)

For the past nine seasons, John Ireland has been the Los Angeles Lakers' sideline reporter for KCAL 9 television. But that has changed because the Corona del Mar High alumnus will now be calling the action.

Ireland, a 1981 graduate of CdM, will be the play-by-play announcer on 710 ESPN radio alongside commentator and former Laker Mychal Thompson, it was announced Tuesday.

Ireland, 47, who has been with KCAL since 1995, replaces Spero Dedes, now with the New York Knicks.

Corona del Mar High must be proud of its alumni. Ireland isn't the only former Sea King with a new Lakers' gig. Bill Macdonald, also a former Sea King, will call the games on TV alongside commentator Stu Lantz on Fox Sports West and KCAL 9.

So, if there is no NBA lockout, Macdonald and Ireland will be the play-by-play announcers for the Lakers for the 2011-12 season.

Ireland has come a long way since his first job in the media business. He began as a paperboy, delivering the Daily Pilot while attending CdM Middle School. He took time out Wednesday to talk to his old paper before working as the emcee at the All-Star Lowsman Trophy Banquet.

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The dinner at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa is the signature event of Irrelevant Week, the weeklong celebration of the final pick of the NFL Draft. Ireland always does his best to provide jokes and funny stories during the night.

Question: What has Chick Hearn meant to you in your career?

Answer: Growing up in Southern California and I grew up in Corona del Mar, it was like going to sportscaster's school because Chick Hearn did the Lakers, Vin Scully did the Dodgers, Bob Miller did the Kings and Dick Enberg did the Angels. I never heard a bad play-by-play guy growing up. I had this Mount Rushmore of play-by-play guys. When I got to KCAL, I got to know Chick. I think he's the best play-by- play guy ever. I'm very biased but when I hear Celtics fans, they say Johnny Most was the Chick Hearn of the Celtics. But I say he loved the Celtics, but Chick was a basketball guy.

Billy [Macdonald] and me look at it the same way. We're not replacing Chick. We're both four times removed. There was Paul Sutherland, and Joel Meyers, and Spero Dedes and now there's me. You never want to be the guy who is replacing the guy. You don't dishonor the chair.

He told me, if you don't tell the audience what is actually going on they'll sniff it out in a second. What they expect out of you is honesty. He was always on point, but brutally honest. I hope I can keep that going on.

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