A third-round pick of the San Francisco Warriors in 1965, Keith Erickson was already a well-known athlete in the area by the time he was traded from the Chicago Bulls to the Lakers for Edwin Mueller in 1968. He played high school basketball at El Segundo and was a two-time national champion with UCLA (Coach John Wooden called Erickson the best athlete he ever coached).
Erickson, who was also a member of the 1964 U.S. Olympic men's volleyball team, had the best of his five seasons with the Lakers in 1970-71. He was third on the team in total rebounds (404), fourth in assists (223, 3.1 a game) and fifth in scoring (823 points, 11.3 a game). He was injured for most of the Lakers’ 1971-72 championship season, playing only 15 regular season-games and none in the playoffs.
He was traded with a second-round pick to the Phoenix Suns for Connie Hawkins, but Erickson’s association with the Lakers would not end there. He would return to the team in 1979 as color commentator for legendary play-by-play announcer Chick Hearn.
During his eight years as a Lakers broadcaster, Erickson sometimes was criticized for being too much of a silent partner to the colorful Hearn. But according to a 1987 Times article by Steve Weinstein, Erickson was perfectly fine with making occasional observations of his own during games and handling halftime and postgame interviews.
“It’s his show,” Erickson said of Hearn. “If I felt it was my show, then I would feel stepped on. I might feel I wasn’t getting my due if I didn’t understand coming in that there wasn’t going to be any due.”
Erickson stepped down as a Lakers broadcaster in 1987 to become president of Sports Fantasies, Inc.
Feb. 12, 2011