Durham spent more than 32 years calling NBA games on TV and radio; his previous assignments were with the Chicago Bulls, the Dallas Mavericks, TNT and TBS. With the Bulls, he was the play-by-play announcer when Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and their teammates won the 1991 NBA championship. In 1999, Durham called men's NCAA basketball tournament games for CBS.
Early in his career, Durham worked on WJBC radio in Bloomington, Illinois. During his time there, he covered the career of Illinois State University basketball star Doug Collins, later coincidentally the coach of the Bulls during the early Jordan years in Chicago, including the famous call listed below.
Durham was the play-by-play voice of the Chicago Bulls from 1973 to 1991. During his first twelve years covering the ballclub, he was exclusively on the radio broadcasts on WIND (1973–1980, 1982–1985), WVON (1980–1982) and WGCI-FM (1981–1982; shared arrangement with WVON). Primarily working solo, he was paired with Norm Van Lier in 1980–81 and Dave Baum in 1982–83. For the remainder of his time in Chicago beginning with the 1985–86 season, he and Johnny Kerr handled the simulcast on WMAQ (1985–1988) and WLUP (1988–1991) on the radio and WFLD/SportsVision (1985–1989) and WGN/SportsChannel Chicago (1989–1991) on television. Five weeks after being relegated back to radio only on May 29, 1991, Durham was dismissed on July 3 as a result of a contract dispute with Bulls management. He was succeeded by Wayne Larrivee (WGN) and Tom Dore (SportsChannel) on television and Neil Funk on the radio.
|“||The inbounds pass comes in to Jordan. Here's Michael at the foul line, the shot on Ehlo...GOOD! (THE BULLS WIN IT! THEY WIN IT!) They upset the Cleveland Cavaliers! Michael Jordan hits it at the foul line! 101-100! 20,273 in stunned silence here in the Coliseum. Michael Jordan with 44 points in a game hit the shot over Craig Ehlo. What tremendous heroics we have had in Game 5. From both teams, what a spectacular series this has been. In my days in the NBA, 16 years, this is the greatest series I've ever seen!||”|
Major League Baseball
Durham died on November 4, 2012 due to complications from a heart attack.
- Chicago Bulls 2012–13 Media Guide.
- Nidetz, Steve. "Radio Only For Durham Next Year," Chicago Tribune, Thursday, May 30, 1991.
- Nidetz, Steve. "After 18 Years, Bulls Fire Durham," Chicago Tribune, Thursday, July 4, 1991.
- "Jim Durham, N.B.A. Broadcaster, Is Dead at 65". New York Times. November 4, 2012. Retrieved January 20, 2014.