Syracuse, N.Y. – His earliest memories drift to his dad’s office, piled high with magical media guides exhaustive with information. Noah Eagle would flip through them, note pertinent details about Jamal Mashburn or Jason Collins and file them away for future reference. He was 4 years old, and the media guide immersion kept him occupied as his dad prepared for a broadcast.

When he got older, Noah would sit a few feet away as Ian Eagle held a microphone and told viewers what to expect from an imminent game. He saw the cameras framing shots, focusing on his father. He watched other broadcasters banter with his dad, a Syracuse University graduate who made a name for himself calling NBA, NFL and NCAA basketball games. By middle school, Noah Eagle knew what he wanted to be when he grew up.

He yearned to become a sports broadcaster, someone who could narrate a game and infuse it with interesting artifacts he’d learned about its participants. He wanted to escape from his own introversion, to take the advice of all those teachers who’d suggested he should choose a career that utilized his polished public speaking skills. He wanted to do what his dad did, to continue the family tradition of entertainment that stretches back two generations.

“Once I was 11 or 12 years old, I really started focusing on this as my future,” Noah Eagle said. “My dad used to do a broadcasting camp. I went when I was 14 and I loved it. I loved every second of it, and from there I just knew in my heart that I would do it and I could do it. I’ve seen it my whole life and I knew what it took.”

That clear-eyed ambition has landed Noah Eagle, at the improbable age of 22, as the Los Angeles Clippers radio play-by-play man. The team formally announced its decision to hire Eagle last month, though the appointment had been rumored for weeks. He interviewed for the job in April and May while finishing his final few weeks at SU, and learned he’d landed it soon after. He recently moved to Los Angeles, picking an apartment between the Clippers’ practice facility and the airport, and is busy preparing to call games in a major media market for one of the NBA’s most compelling teams.

“Noah lit up the room during his broadcasting interview for the Clippers with a unique balance of confidence and humility, rarely seen in any candidate, let alone one just days following graduation from college,” said Gillian Zucker, Clippers President of Business Operations.

Noah Eagle will become the second Syracuse graduate to transition from college immediately to the NBA, said Matt Park, the voice of the Orange who considers himself a WAER historian. Greg Papa made a similar leap in 1984 (from SU to the Indiana Pacers) and currently does radio play-by-play for the San Francisco 49ers.

“What Noah is doing is a modern-day version of that,” said Park, who taught Eagle at SU’s Newhouse School. “And I would say much harder. There’s so many opportunities, so many places to start, so much at stake. To have somebody coming out of college right now, as competitive as the market is, and to be 22 years old and walking into the NBA is astonishing.”

The opportunity opened for Eagle after Olivia Stomski, the director of Newhouse’s sports media center, received a call from colleagues in California who asked her to submit two students as potential Clippers candidates. Stomski, who once worked for the Lakers and still produces more than 100 sports broadcasts a year, asked Eagle and Drew Carter to construct a reel of their best work. She did not tell them who was interested in those reels. The whole process, which began last February, was shrouded in mystery.

Noah Eagle suspected a job might materialize in California, knowing Stomski had “West Coast connections.” He worked on his highlight reel, composed a bio, delivered them to Stomski and for weeks heard nothing. By late March or early April, a Los Angeles area code appeared on his phone and he took the call. Somebody from Fox Sports West was on the line to ask whether he’d be interested in flying to L.A. to interview for a Clippers’ job. The Clippers’ TV broadcaster, Ralph Lawler, retired after 40 years. The Clippers’ radio man, Brian Sieman, was being considered for the TV position. Either way, an opportunity awaited.

“I literally said, ‘Are you sure you have the right number?’” Eagle said.

He interviewed in Los Angeles, auditioned by calling a recorded Clippers-Celtics game with Corey Maggette as his color analyst. He returned to Syracuse, then days later flew to Seattle to meet with Clippers owner Steve Ballmer.

“Did I think I had a chance? Sure. If they’re flying me out I’m going to at least have a chance to get it,” he said. “But I didn’t want to fully get my hopes up because I knew how difficult it would be to actually land this type of job right out of school.”

Stomski, too, wondered how serious the Clippers were about Eagle. She appreciated his maturity, his confidence in front of a camera, his level of preparation. He knew how to act around professionals, had a natural charisma that allowed him to augment the basics of play-by-play with fun and pertinent anecdotes. People liked working with him.

Ryan Powell, the former SU lacrosse star, partnered with Eagle last spring for a lacrosse broadcast on the ACC Network. Powell, who has done TV color analysis for about a decade, was struck by Eagle’s “smooth delivery” and his willingness to allow him to shine.

“Noah is just very confident in what he does. His delivery and his approach and stuff like that – I’m like, ‘Man, this guy is good. I hope I get to work with him every week,’” Powell said. “He was very good at striking up conversation with me and bringing out the best in me. I thought he was very impressive. I kinda felt like he was the best guy I ever worked with.”

Would Eagle’s work at WAER, CitrusTV, Newhouse, the ACC Network and the NBA Summer League be enough to convince the Clippers to hire him? Would the L.A. team want a bigger basketball name, or a buzzy celebrity? Would they trust a recent college graduate with their franchise?

Nobody knew.

“I had no hesitation going to bat for Noah because I believe that he will not only do a great job, but this is only the beginning of what he can do,” Stomski said. “That being said, I had these conversations like, ‘You’re not actually going to hire a 22-year-old to be the Clippers guy?’ And the response was, ‘No, of course not.’ Then they met Noah and were like, ‘Yeah, we are.’”

Ian Eagle, Noah Eagle

Ian Eagle and Noah Eagle in Miami, where Ian called the Syracuse-Miami game for CBS Sports and Noah did play-by-play for WAER. CBS had father and son talk on camera before the game.

Back in New Jersey, Ian Eagle was having similar conversations with his wife, Alisa. She’d ask, “Do you really think he’s gonna get this job?” And he’d reply, “I doubt it.” But one day last spring, as the three Eagles prepared to go out to dinner, Noah fielded another phone call from L.A. This time, he was offered the Clippers radio play-by-play job. It took “about five seconds,” he said, to accept the position.

“Ultimately, he made an incredible impression on Clippers management and those related to the broadcasts, and that’s all him,” Ian Eagle said. “To walk into Steve Ballmer’s office (Ballmer was once the CEO of Microsoft) before you’re a college graduate and walk out hoping you’ve convinced the owner of the Clippers that you’re the right man for the job – that’s not an easy situation for most 22-year-olds.”

The comparisons between father and son start at their uncanny physical resemblance and seep into the way they talk, the way they use wit to inject life into their broadcasts. Ian Eagle’s father was a stand-up comedian who segued into commercials and small acting parts. His mother was a singer. Noah’s parents told their two children (Erin is an SU junior majoring in advertising) that nothing was unattainable. Following his dad into the sports broadcasting business seemed an obvious choice for Noah, who had for years soaked up the spectacle.

Matt Park said Ian Eagle’s talent, his generosity, his sense of humor and his professionalism set an industry standard that has “opened doors” for Noah. But once the name recognition fades, the audition begins.

“Obviously in the sportscasting industry over the years, you have sons and daughters of famous sportscasters, and people look at them first and say, ‘Wow, isn’t that lucky, they were exposed to this and planted in this position and ascended to it because their father did it first,’” Park said. “And in most cases, it’s about 10 seconds before somebody goes, ‘OK, the door may have been open for them, but they deserve their spot.’ And that’s exactly what’s going to happen with Noah.”

Noah Eagle was asked, in his Clippers interview, how he intended to “be his own person and not Ian Eagle’s son,” Stomski said. Noah had a ready answer. He is more interested in pop culture, in entertainment. He has a different way of communicating and is a different person from the man who raised him.

His father built the foundation. He took him to work, allowed him to experience the day-to-day broadcasting operation. He showed him how to treat people. He provides guidance and insight and has exposed him to some of the best sports broadcasters in the business. On occasion, he offers constructive criticism.

Now, it’s up to Noah Eagle to build the only career he’s ever wanted.

“Moreso than anything, I want the respect of my peers, and he has laid incredible groundwork to get that. He has helped me immensely. I wouldn’t be here without him,” Noah said. “But at the end of the day, I want to carve out my own niche, my own personality, my own career. And hopefully starting out on the West Coast and starting out fresh, I can do that. But I’m always going to be connected to him. And I’m not at all ashamed of that.”

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