In NBA basketball, TV commentators use the expression "shoot from downtown" when a player shoots beyond the 3-point line. What is the origin of this expression?
Hunter S. Thompson claimed that it originated with Johnny Most, the Celtics announcer in the 60s. However, it wasn't until Brent Musburger started covering the NBA finals for CBS in the early 80s that the term gained traction. Thompson writes,
That is when Musburger changed the language of sports forever when he kept repeating this ignorant notion that any basketball player firing off a long 3-point shot is shooting from "downtown." (Celtics announcer Johnny Most might have coined the "downtown" trademark in the 1960s, but it was Musburger who beat it to death.) I still hear in my dreams his wild gibberish every time Michael Cooper or Dennis Johnson drilled one of those long flat-line 3-pointers. "From way downtown!" Brent would scream. "Another one from Downtown!" It drove me mad then -- & it still does every time some fool blurts it out. It was quickly picked up and adopted by a whole generation of half-bright TV commentators every night of the bloody season. It has become part of the Lexicon now, & it will not be easy to correct. In gyms & Coliseums all over America (even in Greece or Korea), wherever basketball as we know it is played, there will be some howling Jackass braying, "From way downtown! Another 3-pointer! Is this a great country, or what?"
It is the Curse of Musburger.
Thompson's beef seems to be that if downtown is going to refer to anyplace on the basketball court, it should be near the basket where most of the action is. As he puts it, "where you score."
It was Bob Blackburn, voice of the Seattle Sonics in the early seventies. "Downtown" Freddie Brown consistently scored from long range several years before the NBA established the 3-point line. The basketball arena was beyond the actual downtown portion of Seattle, up where the worlds fair had been, by the Space Needle.