PHOENIX – Hall of Fame broadcaster Gary Bender announced Monday that this season will be his last as the voice of Phoenix Suns home games on Fox Sports Arizona.
Bender, who has spent nearly two decades behind the microphone for Suns, is returning to Kansas University, where he began his broadcasting career calling football and basketball game in the 1960s. He’ll serve as a consultant to the Alumni Association and the school’s Endowment Association.
“It’s going back to my roots,” Bender said Monday.
In his new role with the university, Bender will advise the athletic department on communications, programs, and events, and also serve as keynote speaker at award ceremonies.
“Gary defines the word ‘professional’ in the broadcasting industry,” said Suns President and Chief Executive Officer Rick Welts. “His class, talent and character have combined to give Suns fans 18 years of great memories and unforgettable moments lived through his words. He is part of our family, and the team and all Suns fans say ‘thank you’ for a job incredibly well done.”
Bender’s illustrious career spans 27 sports, three major networks, and some of the most well known franchises in sports, including the Kansas Jayhawks, Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, St. Louis Rams and even the Arizona Cardinals when they were still the Phoenix Cardinals.
“I think I’m going to miss the excitement of being at the ballpark,” Bender said. “I’ve always felt like there’s a certain mystic to it…all the things before the ball goes up in the air or before the balls kicked off, I’ll miss that.”
Bender joined the Suns in 1993 and 18 seasons later; he has broadcast more than 700 Suns games. The Suns will honor Bender during the organization’s April 11 game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at US Airways Center.
“I think the biggest moment I’ve had with the Suns will probably be coming up right now: when I say goodbye,” Bender said.