In Their Words is a weekly feature appearing Sundays in The Blade's sports section. Blade sports writer Maureen Fulton talked with Michael Reghi, a longtime sports broadcaster in Ohio who was the television voice of the Cleveland Cavaliers for 12 years.
Fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers endured a long run of mediocrity before their recent NBA Finals appearance. But for 12 years, the man describing it provided a lift.
Michael Reghi and his popular catch phrases were one of the images of the Cavs, and it was never more obvious than when new owner Dan Gilbert fired him last year with two years remaining on his contract.
Reghi is still around Ohio sports, in as many ways as he can find time for. He calls Mid-American Conference football and basketball games for Fox Sports Ohio. He also calls basketball games on ESPN regional telecasts and does work for NBA TV and the NFL Network.
Reghi's voice can be heard on WKNR radio in Cleveland as well. He hosted the Cavaliers' Wine and Gold postgame show last season and has the same role after Browns games. Reghi also does Browns programming for FSN Ohio.
When Reghi was let go in April, 2006, there was a public outcry among Cavs fans, including an online petition to bring Reghi back that has collected nearly 2,400 signatures. To this day there are still more than 20 groups on facebook.com pleading for his return, many of them with hundreds of members.
"The fans have been so wonderful in their support," Reghi said. "I can feel that. After a year, I feel comfortable in saying they know what this was all about. Mr. Gilbert wanted to bring his friend [Fred McLeod] in."
Reghi, 54, grew up in Detroit and graduated from Arizona State.
Reghi's first job out of college was at WNDH radio station in Napoleon. He worked there from 1979-81 and called the Napoleon basketball games when the Wildcats went 28-0 and won the Class AA state title in 1981.
Following stints at WLIO in Lima and WDHO in Toledo, he worked as the sports director at WTVG in Toledo from 1986-1990. After several stops at other stations, Reghi took on the Cavs job and also announced Baltimore Orioles games from 1997-2003.
This year, Reghi called the Bowling Green-Temple game last month, the entire FIBA Americas basketball tournament with Team USA and hosts a nightly Browns training camp show for FSN Ohio.
"WHAT I LOVED about Napoleon was that, coming from a big city, that was the first time in my life that I'd ever been involved in something like that in a small town. It galvanized an entire town and community. They all were just absolutely riveted.
"They lived for their high school basketball team. I have very fond memories of it, always will. They literally shut the whole town down when they were playing. It was a whole day's event. The kids were superstars around there. I still run into people sometimes and they tell me, 'Hey Michael, I'm from Napoleon,' because of the memories from that time."
"IF ANYBODY wants me to call games, I'm going to go do it. I love doing college games as much as I can. When I was doing the Cavaliers I still tried to do as many as I can. Basketball is my passion.
"I love doing all three of the major team sports. I wouldn't want to go back to baseball, though. It's grueling. I enjoy doing postgame call-ins, talking to the fans. When WKNR's owner asked me to do it, he said you have strong credibility in Cleveland. We want to get you on air for the Cavaliers, where you should be."
"I AM VERY impressed with [Bowling Green football coach] Gregg Brandon. What I really enjoy about him is that he has a concept and an ideal about the way he wants to play offensive football.
"I've been very impressed and [quarterback Tyler] Sheehan has had a big deal to do with it. If he doesn't have the next step this year it maybe doesn't happen. I know in the offseason he went really hard in the classroom with reading an offense and having everything that a leader has to have in terms of intangibles. Now they're back to what they want. Because of that offense and the points they can put on the board they have a chance."
"AT THE FIBA tournament it looked like that LeBron [James] was enjoying himself and
having fun within Mike
Krzyzewski's system. It looked to me like he had spent a great deal of time working on his game. It looked like he was much more comfortable shooting the basketball.
"The last time we saw him he was in the Finals and he shot the ball very poorly from 15 feet and beyond. I thought he took on a great presence of leadership although he deferred to Jason Kidd and Kobe [Bryant] to a degree."
"I THINK [Browns quarterback] Derek Anderson has handled himself extremely well. From a mental and psychological standpoint it can't be easy. Brady Quinn is your quarterback in waiting. It's human nature.
"He's got a good grasp on it. He's unflappable. He doesn't seem that he's going to let something like this bother him. He did tell me one time, 'Every time I go out there it's an audition for the whole league. If it doesn't work out here, I believe if I play well I could go somewhere else.' I think that's a great way to look at it.
"You look at some of the quarterbacks around the league. You say, maybe the Browns aren't in that bad of shape with Anderson. I do think Brady will play at some point this year."