76ers Broadcaster Marc Zumoff Retires


After announcing more than 2,100 Philadelphia 76ers games, the veteran sportscaster known lovingly by fans as “Zoo,” is finally, to use his words, coming in for a landing.

Sixers announcer Marc Zumoff, who is Jewish, announced his retirement on June 29, following 27 years of making calls for the team.

After attending his first Sixers game on Feb. 29, 1964, Zumoff became enamored with the team, at just 8 years old.

“That was the night the Philadelphia 76ers became my first love,” Zumoff wrote for NBC Sports.

Following that fateful evening, Zumoff began down his path to sportscasting, religiously watching Wilt Chamberlain-era games on his television, giving spiels into his cassette recorder — a bar mitzvah gift.

After announcing for the Temple University Owls football and basketball teams as a student, Zumoff eventually landed a gig at PRISM, a regional cable channel, working there as a play-by-play announcer for 12 years before being named the announcer for the Sixers in 1994, where he accumulated his numerous awards.

Zumoff, a Philadelphia native, has received a slew of accolades for his work, including a 2011 induction to the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, the 2018 Bill Campbell Award from the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association, the 2018 and 2019 title of Pennsylvania Sportscaster of the Years award by the National Sports Media Association, as well as 19 Mid-Atlantic Emmy Awards.

But Zumoff is beloved for more than just his talent.

The Sixers haven’t won a championship since 1983, and “The Process,” jump-started under former General Manager Sam Hinkie, hasn’t delivered one yet, either.

Marc Zumoff | Courtesy of the Philadelphia 76ers

Yet unlike so many in the world of sports, Zumoff didn’t want to be a part of the team just to win. To him, the Sixers’ tribulations had little to do with his responsibility as a sportscaster.  

“Even though the team hasn’t played very well, from a personal standpoint, I’m getting used to the grind. In fact, it’s even better than I imagined,” Zumoff said to the Jewish Exponent in 1995.

Perhaps Zumoff was truly successful, in this sense, of “turning garbage into gold.”

Over the course of his nearly-three decade tenure, Zumoff amassed a fandom that trusted him.

“What it boils down to is that they’ve invited me into their home for the purposes of watching a team they’re very passionate about, and they want to know, whether it’s bad or it’s good, when they’re frustrated or they’re elated, I’m there with them, providing a soundtrack that reflects all of that.”

But don’t be fooled — Zumoff’s career wasn’t purely for basketball fans. For a boy growing up in North Philadelphia, playing basketball on the telephone-pole hoop outside his house, with the dream of one day becoming the announcer for his childhood team, Zumoff knows that his career was a dream come true.

“I’m doing my dream job, being an announcer for the 76ers. I’ve reached my ultimate goal and not many people can say that,” Zumoff said to the Exponent in 2015.

Zumoff recognizes that he was one of the few broadcasters able to have his particular role.

“There are only 30 jobs like this in the entire universe, and I ended up broadcasting the games for the team I grew up rooting for,” he said in a Philadelphia Inquirer interview. “I had reached, in my mind, the pinnacle of my profession.” 

His retirement comes from a desire, foremost, to spend more time with his wife, Debbie, to whom he’s been loyal longer than he’s worked for the Sixers.

“I can never repay her for all of the nights and weekends she spent alone, raising our sons and holding down her own, high-pressure career. Simply, she is my best friend, and we want to spend more time together,” he wrote.

In a statement, 76ers managing partners Josh Harris and David Blitzer thanked Zumoff for his time with the team: “We’ll miss his iconic voice and trademark sayings, which have been staples during 76ers games for the better part of two decades.”

Following his farewell, Zumoff wants to spend more time learning Spanish and learning to play the flute, skills untouched since the eighth and ninth grades, respectively. He wants to “cook, travel and by all means give back with my time and strength to the charitable causes that I hope will make for a better world.”

His decision to retire — as Inquirer columnist Mike Sielski wrote — at the apex of his career, was deliberate: “There’s a lot out there for me to still do, and I want to do it all while I’m still able.”

The Sixers haven’t named Zumoff’s successor and are planning to release the details on an upcoming “Marc Zumoff Night” at the Wells Fargo Center.

In the meantime, Zumoff plans to enjoy the Sixers the same way he did over a half century ago: glued to the television, watching his team play 82 times a year.

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