We are underway.
John Sterling uttered those three words as he turned back the clock on a rainy Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn. The legendary Yankees radio announcer returned to his stomping grounds to call the Nets-Hawks game at Barclays Center for YES Network.
Sterling, 80, began his broadcasting career calling play-by-play for the then-Baltimore Bullets for the 1970-71 NBA season. He came to New York to cover a number of sports, including professional hockey and football. Sterling served as the Nets and Islanders announcer from 1975-80 before spending nine years in Atlanta to cover the Hawks and Braves. He returned to New York to broadcast Yankees games in 1989 for WABC radio and has been with the Bronx Bombers ever since.
If Yankees fans tuned in to the Nets game to hear Sterling call dunks the same way he calls home runs, they may be disappointed. Sterling unceremoniously began his play-by-play by jumping right into an analysis of Atlanta Hawks' point guard Trae Young alongside longtime Nets reporter Sarah Kustok like he never missed a beat.
Sterling, sensing the home crowd's energy and hyping the Nets' early first quarter lead, mixed in the phrases "Bullseye!" and "Boo ya!" with familiar inflections when Brooklyn looped one into the basket.
YES Network featured a small segment of Sterling calling the 1976 Nets ABA championship game in between quarters and he humbly exclaimed "Yes, I was there!" like it was yesterday. Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said it wasn't too long ago when he turned on his transistor radio and listened to Sterling call the Nets.
"I don't care what anybody says, [Sterling] is still better than [Nets broadcaster] Ian Eagle," Atkinson said. "Thank you and congratulations for being a part of the New York fabric. We love you."