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CdM alums excited for gig

Virgen's View

December 23, 2011|By Steve Virgen
(Andrew D. Bernstein…)

The 2011-12 school year is the 50th anniversary for Corona del Mar High.

The Sea Kings had a great fall season, winning a CIF section title in football and reaching the finals in boys' water polo, girls' volleyball and boys' and girls' cross country. It's been special.

But there's another fascinating aspect during the 50th anniversary. CdM has two of its alumni working for the Los Angeles Lakers, one calls games on TV and the other on the radio.

"Pretty cool."

Those are the words Bill Macdonald and John Ireland used to describe their respective gigs during the shortened season of the NBA.

It makes sense both would say it's pretty cool that two CdM alums are calling Laker games. They are beach boys. Both grew up in Newport Beach and played basketball at CdM. They grew up fans of the Lakers and their famous announcer, Chick Hearn.

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Pretty cool, indeed.

Both are excited to be working their dream job. That excitement was seen in the background of the Lakers-Clippers exhibition game Monday at Staples Center.

Macdonald, who calls games on TV for Fox Sports West and KCAL 9, shared a story with me. Before the game began, Macdonald had the opportunity to look over at Ireland. Both smiled at each other, as if to say, "Can you believe this?"

They share the same hometown and high school, but they have different stories of how they reached their big gig.

Macdonald, who graduated from CdM in 1976, is familiar with the Lakers, and the Buss family. He sold Lakers season tickets after finishing up college, first at UCLA, then Orange Coast and finally at USC.

"I've kinda come full circle," said Macdonald, generally known as Billy Mac. "I was working for John Buss. But it took me 30 years to work for Dr. Buss."

Macdonald worked for John Buss when he owned the Los Angeles Lazers, a team of the Major Indoor Soccer League.

Macdonald got a $500 loan from his father and found a small radio station, KBOB, that he could put Lazers game on. After getting the OK from John Buss, Macdonald was on his way.

He would later meet Chick Hearn.

"I would seat in the same seat he did," Macdonald said. "That was always a thrill for me. Anyone who grew up with the Lakers knows Chick. And now I'm calling games for the Lakers. This is an unbelievable dream. It's all about the organization and the fans, and I want to do the fans right."

Macdonald has called a game for the Lakers before, as he filled in while he worked pre-game and post-game shows.

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