WESTFIELD, Ind. – We all know the sights and we all know the sounds. We’ve also come to know the voice of the man who brings the Indiana Pacers into our living rooms.
Chris Denari has been the TV host of the Pacers games for more than a decade. He’s a familiar presence for many Pacer fans, but maybe fewer know the deep Hoosier roots of one of Indiana’s Very Own.
"If you would have told me in the summer of 1977 when our family moved here to Westfield that I would be the TV host of the Pacers, I would have told you, you were crazy," said Denari.
On the eve of the Pacers latest playoff run, Denari took a drive around his hometown of Westfield.
“I remember a parade when I rode a riding lawn mower down this street probably going about two miles an hour,” said Denari.
It was in Westfield that Denari started a life in basketball. He played point guard for his father, a long time teacher and coach at Westfield High School. Chris often comes back to his old neighborhood. His dad passed away recently, but his mom still lives in the same home where he learned how to play.
"That driveway right there, I spent countless hours as a junior and senior and even when I was in college, right goal was right there and I would shoot endless hours there."
When you drive around Denari’s neighborhood, you’re struck by how typical it is. It could be part of any town in central Indiana.
"I like to tell people I do something everyone would like to do, but I'm just a regular guy," said Denari. "Like I tell people, I'm just like you. I just have a cool job.”
The path to courtside took Chris from Wabash College, where he won a championship, to broadcasting. He took jobs with the Colts, Butler Basketball and FOX59, where full disclosure, he and I became friends. He has many at the Pacer games.
"I cherish that when I'm sitting there at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and the game is going on and somebody taps me on the shoulder and it's somebody I went to high school with."
Pacer fans may not know how far the team will go in the playoffs, but they do know who’s going to be behind the mic describing the victories and defeats. He’s someone who doesn’t forget where he came from, because he never left.
"I always tell people, we don't have mountains, we don't have oceans, but it’s a wonderful place to live, it's a great place to raise a family and I wouldn't trade it for anything."