BROOMFIELD — Hundreds of Coloradans from across the state gathered Saturday inside the 1stBank Center to honor a man whose sports legacy knew few bounds.
Irv Brown graduated from Denver North High School in 1953 as a three-sport star and earned all-league honors in baseball and basketball at the University of Northern Colorado. He coached the Arvada baseball team to a state championship, founded the sport at Metro State and later directed the CU Buffaloes’ baseball team. Brown was an accomplished NCAA basketball official assigned to six Final Fours who helped pioneer Denver’s sports-talk radio evolution of the 1980s and beyond.
Brown, 83, died in hospice care Feb. 3 shortly after a being diagnosed with an aggressive form of lymphoma. His former on-air partner Dave Logan emceed the free public event to celebrate Brown.
“Everybody here has been touched in one way or another by Irv,” Logan told the crowd. “This is a real testament to a lot of what Irv was about and what he accomplished in his life. He truly was a renaissance man.”
The celebration spanned 2.5 hours and featured a video tribute including commentary from legendary NCAA basketball coaches Mike Krzyzewski and Bob Knight.
Krzyzewski: “When I heard about the passing of Irv, it was a silent moment for me. There just aren’t many people who have given their whole life to the game of basketball, and he certainly did. He lifted the game with his excellence to make the game better.”
Knight: “From an officiating standpoint, there was no one even close to Irv Brown. He was the best there was, and he’s the best there will ever be. … One time I was needling him a little bit. He said, ‘Hey, Coach, you’re fly is unzipped.’ I automatically look down. Then I look up and he’s 25 feet away from me.”
Even Broncos general manager John Elway offered a quick word: “Irv Brown was truly a Colorado sports icon. … He will be very much missed.”
Logan introduced seven speakers — Todd Romero (Altitude Sports), Joe Williams (retired former radio partner), John Stearns (CU football and baseball/MLB baseball), Tom Green (9News), Jay Howell (CU/MLB baseball), Larry Zimmer (retired former radio partner) and Sam Adams (former Rocky Mountain News reporter) — who took turns retelling their favorite Brown stories.
Williams: “We’d be out doing a remote broadcast … and when people came up, he’d just start shooting the breeze with them. I’m like, ‘Irv, we’re on the radio.’ He knew everybody.”
Stearns: “He scheduled our spring (baseball) trip to Arizona to coincide with (an NCAA regional basketball tournament). We played two games during the day and went to the tournament at night. He reffed the championship game, and we were there. Who could pull that off? Only Irv Brown.”
Zimmer: “We are going to miss that knowledge of things that went on and people that meant something to sports in this state and this community. Because Irv Brown knew it. He was an encyclopedia.”
The event ended with Brown’s three sons — Greg, Mike and Casey — delivering a thankful message to the crowd: “The response to his death has just been flooring. … Thank you very, very much for coming.”
They received a standing ovation.
Updated Feb. 17, 2019, at 8:29 a.m. Because of an error by a reporter, the school Irv Brown coached at was originally misreported. He led Arvada High School to a state baseball championship.