Sources: Hearn statue at Staples

A statue of former Lakers announcer Chick Hearn will be unveiled next week in front of Staples Center prior to Game 2 of the team's first-round playoff series, sources close to the team told ESPNLosAngeles.com late Tuesday.

The likeness of Hearn, voice of the Lakers for 42 years until his death in 2002, will be seated at a table wearing headphones and appearing to speak into a microphone. The work of art includes an empty seat next to him for fans who want to pose as his analyst.

"I feel so wonderful about this," said Marge Hearn, his wife for nearly 64 years. "This is the best thing that can happen to someone in their whole life. How many people get a statue? It's a shame he didn't get to see it. And even if he did, he wouldn't believe it."

Hearn, more than Jerry West, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant or anybody else who ever wore purple and gold, is rightfully credited with turning the Lakers into the most popular team in town thanks to his colorful and passionate broadcasts on radio and television. Included in Hearn's career behind the Lakers microphone was a string of 3,338 straight broadcasts.

His statue, commissioned by the Lakers franchise, will now join those of Johnson, the Kings' Wayne Gretzky and boxer Oscar De La Hoya on Staples Center's Walk of Fame.

The public is invited to the dedication, which will begin around 4 p.m., Tuesday, in the Lakers' series with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Steve Springer is a freelance journalist and the author of eight books, the last three best-sellers. He was an award-winning sports writer with the Los Angeles Times for 25 years.