George Eddy, the inimitable voice of basketball in France


It is a voice like no other. “Ohlalalalalala! », “Badaboom”, “He shot 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 expression. “If I have one thing, it’s a big mouth”said George Eddy, all smiles, in the documentary dedicated to him by the channel – where he made his fortune broadcasting this sport.

The bench and the backbench have been summoned to sing his praises, at a time when “Mister George”, 66, is nearing retirement. “The words he used, his excitement and his passion […] Whenever you watch a basketball game, you know when George does the commentary. His voice is strange.pays tribute to Tony Parker, the best French player in history.

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

Like all French orange ball lovers from the mid-1980s, the former San Antonio Spurs point guard in the NBA is fed up with George Eddy’s comments. “George is our basketball reference”, explained Evan Fournier, one of the leaders of the current French team. Even astronaut Thomas Pesquet had stars in his eyes when he explained “grew up listening to you” to the commentator – on the sidelines of a meeting at the last Eurobasket, where George Eddy commented on the Blues’ matches for the last time.

Gouaille and encyclopedic knowledge

The “You’re imitating my childhood”this son of an American father and a French mother who grew up in Florida before coming to France to pursue a career as a professional player is used to it. “But every time I hear it, it makes me happy”blow to the lover, in the documentary by Clément Repellin.

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

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For a long time, in France, the NBA and George Eddy were inseparable. Got nervous at Canal + in January 1985, because he saw that the channel launched would broadcast the American championship, the former shooter – who notably played in Caen, in the first division – convinced Charles Biétry, then sports boss of an encrypted channel, to give him a chance. Passionate about the NBA since his childhood, with a new resonance in France, George Eddy brings his banter and his encyclopedic knowledge to basketball.

“Like the Canal, my way of commenting is new and different”breath of the man who learned his new job at work. “Everything is new to George. He brings color to the air, just like his great expressions”presented in the documentary Eric Besnard, journalist at Canal+.

“We all grew up with him”

Eccentric, who quickly became “George” for French basketball fans, gathered around him a community of night owls (meetings were broadcast at night, French time), while the NBA was developing around the world, on the wings of a certain Michael Jordan. Guide to the Chicago Bulls star on his first visits to Paris, George Eddy remains associated with the mythical number 23.

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“George created the NBA. He is the NBA in FranceEric Besnard assured. I wouldn’t say he’s as famous as Jordan, but close. » If in the United States everything is a dream “be like mike” (“to be like Michael [Jordan] “), in the yard of France, we again changed our actions in the voice of the commentator of Canal +. “Making the action that George Eddy would comment on is a kind of pride and achievement when you’re a playerassured Nicolas Batum, the captain of the French team. Because we all grew up with him. »

A pioneer in his own way, the godfather “George” has a series of godfathers, and all French players who have played in the NBA one day can name a “What a stratospheric dunk! » or one “oh dear” marked them. After Jordan, this native of Alabama fell in love with the Blues – he arrived in France in 1977 – accompanied by the appearance of Tony Parker in the NBA, at the highest level.

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“This has been my passion and my reason for being a professional for thirty years: to introduce American basketball at first, then to promote all sneakers, and especially the French team and the ProA. [le championnat de France] »asserted George Eddy in 2015.

At a time when the French team is aiming for the Olympic coronation in 2024 at home, and when a Frenchman – Victor Wembanyama, 19 – declared himself a future star of world basketball, the commentator, who constantly checks the playgrounds (basketball court. ), he knows that the seeds he planted in French basketball for almost forty years have hatched.

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

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