George Eddy, the inimitable voice of French basketball


It’s a sound like no other. “Ohlalalalalalala! », “Badaboom”, “He fired from the parking lot! »… For a long time, the onomatopoeia of the Franco-American commentator of Canal+ left the small screen to enter the everyday language of basketball fans.

French mixed with an American accent and earthy expressions. “If I have one thing, it’s my big mouth”In the channel’s documentary dedicated to him, George Eddy smiles – he made a fortune broadcasting this sport.

As 66-year-old “Mister George” nears retirement, the bench and back seat have been called to eulogize him. “The words he used, his excitement and his passion […] Every time you watched a basketball game, you knew when George was commentating. His voice was unique.honors Tony Parker, the best French player of all time.

Read our interview (2015): George Eddy: “I was the last dinosaur”

Like all French orange ball fans since the mid-1980s, the former San Antonio Spurs player in the NBA was sick of George Eddy’s comments. “George was our basketball reference”, explains Evan Fournier, one of the leaders of the current French team. Even astronaut Thomas Pesquet has stars in his eyes as he explains “I grow listening to you” to the commentator – on the sidelines of the last Eurobasket match where George Eddy last commented on the Blues’ matches.

Gouaille and encyclopedic knowledge

The “You shook my childhood”The son of an American father and a French mother, he grew up in Florida before coming to France to pursue a career as a professional player. “But it makes me happy every time I hear it.”Clément shocks the amateur in a documentary by Repellin.

After a thirty-eight-year career, George Eddy isn’t content with basketball commentary. But after joining the French Basketball Academy in October, the recipient of the Robert Busnel-Yvan Mainini Trophy, the highest distinction in French basketball – “France Hall of Fame”, We call the FFBB federation No longer commentating on Blues matches, nor NBA, North American Basketball League – Canal+ no longer owns broadcast rights. However, it will broadcast the NBA Paris Game between the Detroit Pistons and the Chicago Bulls on January 19 at the Accor Arena in Paris. With George Eddy as commentator, of course

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For a long time, the NBA and George Eddy were inseparable in France. Annoyed at Canal + in January 1985, because he saw that the newly opened channel was going to broadcast the American Championship, the former shooter – who played in Caen in the first division in particular – convinced Charles Bietri, then sported. boss of the cryptic channel to give him a chance. With a passion for the NBA since childhood, with its then fledgling resonance in France, George Eddy brings his jokes and encyclopedic knowledge of basketball.

“As a channel, my style of commentary was new and different”He who learns his new job on the job breathes. “Everything is new with George. He adds color to the air like his great expressions.”Featured in a documentary on Canal+ journalist Eric Besnard.

“We all grew up with it”

The Eccentric, who quickly became just “George” to French basketball fans, gathered around him a group of night owls (matches were broadcast at night, French time) as the NBA developed internationally, under the wings of a certain Michael. Jordan. George Eddy, the guide to the star of the Chicago Bulls team during his first trips to Paris, remains associated with the mythical number 23.

Night classes

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World Seminars

“George personified the NBA. He was the NBA in FranceEric Besnard assures. I won’t say he was as famous as Jordan, but he was close. » If everyone in the US was dreaming “Be Like Mike” (“To be like Michael [Jordan] “), based on France, we repeated our actions with the voice of the Canal + commentator. “To do what George Eddy commented on is a form of pride and achievement when you’re a player.Nicola Batum, the captain of the French team, is sure. Because we all grew up with it. »

A pioneer in his own right, his godfather George has a number of godchildren, and all the French players who have played in the NBA one day can set an example. “What a stratospheric dunk! » or one “My dear” noted them. After Jordan, this Alabama native fell in love with the Blues – he arrived in France in 1977 – accompanying Tony Parker’s emergence in the NBA to the highest level.

Read also The article is reserved for our subscribers Tony Parker, the “little player” who opened the NBA to a generation of European basketball players

“For thirty years it has been my passion and reason to be a professional: first to promote American basketball, then to promote all sports shoes, especially the French team and the ProA. [le championnat de France] »In 2015, George Eddy insisted.

At a time when the French team plans to take home the Olympic crown in 2024, and when a Frenchman – 19-year-old Victor Vembanyama – declares himself the future star of world basketball, the commentator who continues to explore the playing fields (basketball courts ), knows that what he has planted in French basketball for almost forty years the seeds have hatched.

Mr. George: The Extraordinary Life of George Eddy, by Clément Repellin (Fr., 2023, 118 min.).

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