Bill Raftery files for trademarks

Longtime basketball announcer Bill Raftery is finally putting himself in position to capitalize on some of his famous phrases.

Raftery filed for trademarks to "Onions" and "With a kiss" last week. The filing seeks to protect the use of the words as Raftery's during sports broadcasts and on athletic apparel.

Raftery said in the past he wasn't preoccupied with owning what he uttered, but he recently decided to see "what direction it goes in."

"The short phrases came into being because it was a way to contribute to the commentary, while making sure I wasn't getting in the way of the play-by-play man," Raftery said.

Ian Eagle, who called play-by-play of New Jersey Nets broadcasts with Raftery for eight years, said the 71-year-old's first use of onions was during a Nets-Orlando Magic game Nov. 8, 1995.

"I always thought I was pretty good at translating what Raftery was getting at," Eagle said. "So Kevin Edwards hits a shot and he says, "Ohhh, onions!" We go to break and I say to him, 'What was that? So good you had to cry?' And Bill says to me, 'No, big balls!'"

Over the years, Raftery, who worked for ESPN for 32 years and now is the lead basketball analyst on Fox Sports 1, used "Onions" frequently in his college basketball broadcasts. Another one of Raftery's favorites is "With a kiss," which means a shot off the backboard.

Raftery said the idea of getting a deal with Hershey's, which has an official sponsorship with the NCAA, has been brought up several times.

Eagle said he's happy that his colleague finally may get to cash in off his words and wasn't surprised he filed for trademarks to the two phrases.

"One of my favorites was when Jamie Feick, who was on a 10-day contract with the Nets, blocked a shot and Bill says, 'Ohhh, get the 'Feick' outta here!'" he said.

Raftery won't be alone in trying to potentially capitalize on his catch phrases. His broadcast partner, Gus Johnson, once sold a line of T-shirts with one of his phrases, "Rise and Fire."