We were shocked and saddened to hear that Jim Durham had died at age 65. The former Chicago Bulls announcer and his wife Helen lived in Glen Ellyn. Helen earned a master’s degree at Wheaton College during Jim’s tenure with the Bulls. We had the opportunity of interviewing him for a newspaper article.
We agree with Mike Imrem that the Basketball Hall of Fame broadcaster was “so special on several levels.” One level that hasn’t been covered by the media is the spiritual one that gave Jim the gift of encouraging people from all walks of life.
In May 1982 the Durhams vacationed in the Virgin Islands. His contract with the Bulls had expired, and there was no talk about a new one. “I was really searching in my life for some meaning,” Jim said. For the first time in his life he started thumbing through a Bible in their hotel room and found that it made sense to him personally. One verse had been underlined: John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
“It was if the Lord was saying, ‘Right here, dummy. This is where I wanted you to be,’” Jim said. He went out on the balcony where he sensed a voice saying, “You are forgiven.” After he walked around in a daze for a day or two, Helen asked him what had happened. “I’m not sure, but I think I’m born again,” he said, Jim spent the rest of his life interacting with every person he met in a way that he thought Jesus did — with respect and compassion.
By fall of 1982 Jim was courtside painting word pictures of Bulls’ games.
Margaret Ann Arnold
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