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An NBA announcer returns to the booth after two weeks of an on-air medical emergency

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Hawks announcer Bob Rathbun, 68, is back in the booth two weeks after suffering a scary medical emergency on air…and jokes he’ll avoid ‘fainting on live TV’ from now on

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Atlanta Hawks broadcaster Bob Rathbone returned to the booth Monday after suffering a medical emergency during the Dec. 5 broadcast.

“One note to anyone stepping forward: Don’t miss out on live TV,” Rathbone said. The Atlanta Constitution Journal ahead of Monday’s thrilling 126-125 win over the visiting Orlando Magic.

The 68-year-old was carrying out his usual pregame duties on Dec. 5 alongside broadcast partner and Hawks legend Dominic Wilkins when he was visibly suffering from a medical emergency on air. As Wilkins spoke, Rathbone slumped into his chair as his right arm began to move. He then tilted his head back and opened his mouth before the stop cut to a wide shot of State Farm Arena.

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The 68-year-old Rathbone was doing his usual pregame duties on Dec. 5 alongside broadcast partner and Hawks legend Dominic Wilkins when he was visibly suffering from a medical emergency on the air.  As Wilkins spoke, Rathbone slumped into his chair as his right arm began to move.  He then tilted his head back and opened his mouth before the stop cut to a wide shot of State Farm Arena

The 68-year-old Rathbone was doing his usual pregame duties on Dec. 5 alongside broadcast partner and Hawks legend Dominic Wilkins when he was visibly suffering from a medical emergency on the air. As Wilkins spoke, Rathbone slumped into his chair as his right arm began to move. He then tilted his head back and opened his mouth before the stop cut to a wide shot of State Farm Arena

Atlanta Hawks broadcaster Bob Rathbone returned to the booth Monday after suffering a medical emergency during the Dec. 5 broadcast.
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Atlanta Hawks broadcaster Bob Rathbone returned to the booth Monday after suffering a medical emergency during the Dec. 5 broadcast.

Atlanta Hawks broadcaster Bob Rathbone returned to the booth Monday after suffering a medical emergency during the Dec. 5 broadcast.

Rathbone was treated for dehydration and taken to hospital, according to a statement to Bali Sports.

“Well, I was sick that day,” said Rathbun. That’s what precipitated it all. The nice part about it is that I know I’m fine. The great doctors at Emory examined me from head to toe. They left no stone unturned. And I’m kidding [with] I said to my bosses at Bally, ‘I’m your best announcer. ‘Cause I’ve got the papers to prove it.

“It’s nice to know you’re okay,” Rathbun added. “It was just a strange set of circumstances that happened.”

“I’m just excited to get back in the chair,” he said. “Orlando is playing great. This should be a great match, home starts right before Christmas. So it’s a pretty big game. But I’m really excited to be back with my Bally family, my Hawks family, and as soon as I’m back on the air I’ll be back with the fans.”

Rathbone was treated for dehydration and taken to hospital, according to a statement to Bali Sports

Rathbone was treated for dehydration and taken to hospital, according to a statement to Bali Sports

Rathbone was treated for dehydration and taken to hospital, according to a statement to Bali Sports

Hawks fans tweeted words of encouragement to Rathbone, who said he was touched by the gesture.

“The outpouring of prayers and wishes is overwhelming,” he said. I’ve heard from so many people, people (me) I haven’t heard in 30, 40 years that it takes you back. And I am so grateful. Thanks seems a little inadequate. But it was an amazing experience. But, boy, was it definitely cool to be back.

The Hawks announced their return to the fans in the ring on Monday prior to receiving the tip, prompting a round of applause.

A native of Wakefield, Rhode Island, Rathbun began his career as sports director for WSTP Radio in Salisbury, North Carolina, in 1973, and has since covered the NBA, WNBA, Major League Baseball, and even Major League Soccer.

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