Most of us know Jack Armstrong — and his unmistakable Brooklyn accent — from hearing him call the play-by-play for Toronto Raptors games on TSN.
(Full disclosure: We at Leading With Nice have borrowed his catchphrase, “Get that gahbage outta here,” more times than we care to admit.)
The revered NBA broadcaster is a three-time Canadian Screen Awards winner for Best Sports Analyst in a Sports Program or Series and his voice has become synonymous with all-things Raptors in Toronto and beyond.
But prior to his broadcasting career, Jack was the head coach of the NCAA Division I Niagara Purple Eagles men’s basketball team in Lewiston, N.Y. And it was shortly after he was relieved of his duties as head coach that he learned an important lesson in humility.
“At Niagara University, as the basketball coach, I get fired,” Jack says. “I don’t win enough games. And then I get hired by the Toronto Raptors. And here I am, three weeks after I got hired by the Raptors, and the phone rings at my house.
“I’m upstairs, my wife’s downstairs. And she goes, ‘Jack, pick up the phone.’ I said, ‘Who is it?” She goes, ‘Sports Illustrated.’ My Sport Illustrated!? I’m walking to the phone, feeling good about myself. I say, ‘I was the NCAA Division I coach for 14 years and not once did Sports Illustrated ever call me. Three weeks ago I got hired in the NBA and I got Sports Illustrated calling me at home! This is pretty cool.’ So I walk to pick up the phone and I go, ‘Hello.’ And the lady on the other end goes, ‘Yes, this is Sports Illustrated.’ I go, ‘Yes, I know it’s Sports Illustrated.’ She goes, ‘Is this Jack Armstrong?’ I’m like, ‘Yes, this is Jack Armstrong.’ She goes, ‘For $19.95, you can get a subscription to Sports Illustrated.”
It’s a moment that Jack will never forget — and a solid reminder that’s important to never take yourself too seriously.
“I think it’s important to have humility, to have a good way of consistently poking fun at yourself and to be able to laugh at yourself,” he says.
Be sure to listen the podcast below to learn more about Jack’s philosophies on leadership and parenting, the dangers of entitlement and the thought-provoking messages he scrawls onto his family’s chalkboard at home.