June 29, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Pneumonia may have saved announcer’s life

LAFAYETTE TWP. — Getting pneumonia may turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to Cavaliers radio play-by-play announcer Joe Tait.

Were it not for the chest pains he experienced while calling an Oct. 10 exhibition game in Houston and subsequent diagnosis of pneumonia, the Medina County resident might not have learned he needed a heart valve replaced until it was too late.

“That is so true,” a cheerful and upbeat Tait said Friday. “One of the cardiologists I talked to said this was a situation that could have led to death in three or four months.

“When I got the pneumonia, they initially thought I was having a heart attack when I got to Houston United Methodist Hospital. And by the way, if you’re ever having heart problems, that is the place to go. They did a great job. They immediately went to work on me like it was a heart attack. That’s when they discovered the heart valve was closing up. That was a heck of a break.”

Tait, 73, recently returned to his Lafayette Township home after being hospitalized in Houston for close to a week.

The 2010 Basketball Hall of Fame inductee underwent a series of tests this week at the Cleveland Clinic, where it was determined he is suffering from aortic stenosis, a narrowing of the heart valve that results in restricted blood flow.

Tait is scheduled to undergo a catheterization on Tuesday. He said doctors told him if anything abnormal shows up, he will immediately undergo surgery to replace his heart valve and have other heart-related concerns addressed. If the catheterization goes normally, his surgery will take place between Nov. 8 and 12 to allow him to recover from the pneumonia.

“I feel a little washed out,” Tait said. “I’m still coughing the garbage out of my lungs, but I feel a lot better than I did.”

An exact timetable for Tait’s return to game broadcasts has not been established, but the Cavs said he will be out at least through the rest of the calendar year.

Tait, who already announced plans to retire at the end of the 2010-11 season, his 39th calling Cavs games on the radio, said he fully intends to return to broadcasting this season.

“I’d like to finish the job doing the job,” he said.

In the meantime, the old-school Tait is resting at home, where the Cavs and friends in the radio business are constantly updating him on the support and prayers he’s receiving from area fans.

“I don’t have a computer, so most of it has been relayed to me,” Tait said with a laugh. “I’ve not heard much directly because people have forgotten how to write and send letters through the mail.”

In the absence of the man who has broadcast more than 3,000 Cavs games, WTAM-1100 AM sports director Mike Snyder will handle radio play-by-play duties, with former center Jim Chones providing commentary.

Tait likely will tune in when the regular season starts Wednesday, but he sheepishly said he didn’t listen to any preseason broadcasts and watched parts of just two games on television.

“I suppose I should say yes, but I haven’t (listened),” he said. “It’s exhibition basketball. There’s only one very small group of people who are interested in exhibition basketball, and that’s the coaching staff. I’ve always said exhibition basketball should be played on a desert island somewhere. It has no bearing at all on what’s going to happen in the regular season.”

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com.

Rick Noland About Rick Noland

Rick Noland is the Cavs beat writer for The Gazette and the author of "Over Time," a compilation of stories he's written in more than 30 years as a journalist. He can be reached at 330-721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.