Herbie Kuhn won’t garner many national headlines. His face blends in with the rest of the Toronto Raptors’ raucous and diverse fan base. Outside of Canada, his name is often unfamiliar to even the most die-hard NBA fans.
But his voice? As Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors told The Undefeated, “his voice … is iconic with the game.”
For each of the Raptors’ 24 years of existence, Kuhn has been courtside, showcasing his powerful pipes as the only public address announcer the team has ever known. Listen closely during Toronto’s home games and you’ll hear Kuhn introduce “YOUR TOR-ON-TO RAP-TORS” in a style uniquely his own. The Raptors love him, and he’s loved the Raptors before they even had a name.
Kuhn, 50, had his sights sets on the new expansion franchise as soon as the NBA announced in 1993 that his hometown of Toronto would receive a team. He beefed up his resume by announcing the FIBA World Championships in 1994 and games for the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League. By August 1995, Kuhn was the choice as the PA announcer.
NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas, who was the first vice president of the Raptors, hired Kuhn.
“Our organization was very diverse and young. I wanted to have the most diverse office, team and fan base in the NBA,” Thomas told The Undefeated. “Toronto still has that till this day.”
My view. Grateful. pic.twitter.com/hOuM1d2DZT
— Herbie Kuhn (@HerbieKuhn) March 5, 2018
Kuhn’s parents met in Toronto in the 1960s, but they were from very different worlds. His father is German, while his mother is from Guyana. Kuhn’s wife of 21 years is from Kingston, Ontario, while the couple’s son was adopted from South Africa.
Kuhn has always been proud of his heritage. He’ll even sprinkle foreign words into his announcing. But Kuhn is loved for more than his smooth vocal delivery.
Kuhn is also very active in Christian ministry. He works full-time with Athletes in Action and he’s also a team chaplain for the Raptors and the Argonauts. Before Raptors games, he and the other chaplains gather both teams for chapel and offer a brief sermon.
“I’m not trying to get them fired up to play the best game of their lives,” Kuhn said. “I’m trying to give them perspective on their identity that regardless to the result out here, it doesn’t change who they are on the inside, win or loss, whether they got a triple-double or three minutes of garbage time. It doesn’t matter. You’re a valued child of God.”
Kuhn has had an impact as a spiritual mentor on a number of players who have come through Toronto over the years. One of those players is Dell Curry, Steph’s father. He formed a close friendship with Kuhn during the last three years of his career from 1999-2002.
“We spent a good amount of time with him when I was living there,” Steph Curry said. “Went to his church. Went to his house to eat. He and his wife had great hospitality for us. I love his energy.”
Kuhn spoke glowingly of the Curry family as well, even calling himself a “proud uncle” of the Curry kids.
“I remember Steph and (his younger brother) Seth maybe up to my shoulder taking shots on the court,” Kuhn said. “And most of them went in. I had great memories of the Currys.”
Even now, as Kuhn’s Toronto Raptors and Steph Curry’s Golden State Warriors are deadlocked at one win apiece in the NBA Finals, the good will remains.
Game 3 of the NBA Finals is Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET in Oakland, Calif., so Kuhn won’t be the one announcing Steph Curry’s threes, but everyone is aware of how important the point guard is to the Warriors’ success. The Currys, however, are more aware than most how important Kuhn is to the Toronto Raptors, to countless NBA players, and to the Kingdom of God.
“I was created to use this voice to bring joy to people’s lives, to relay information and sit in the most incredible position to see some of the best athletes in the world,” Kuhn said. “And, to be able to use this God-given talent to an arena full of people is a true honor and a privilege. It has brought contentment and fulfillment into my heart because I know I am supposed to be here.”
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– Stephen Curry’s Unanimous Media production company to release ‘Emanuel’ June 17 and 19