He was speaking concerning the CBS duo of legendary analyst Jim Nantz and Billy Packer who died Thursday at 82. Nantz and Packer Craig Littlepage criticizedthen-chairman of the NCAA Division I Basketball Committee, after the match draw for that yr was revealed, demanding to know why George Mason and different mid-caps had been included.
George Mason, in fact, defeated Michigan State, North Carolina, Wichita State, and top-ranked Connecticut State to achieve the Ultimate 4. Three nights after Mason lower the online in downtown Washington, I used to be having dinner with some pals at St. Elmo’s, the well-known Indianapolis steakhouse. The supervisor acknowledged that the Patriots had been consuming in a non-public eating room within the basement. A couple of minutes later, Nantz and Packer arrived and stopped by our desk to say good day.
“You recognize, my gamers and coach George Mason are having dinner downstairs,” I mentioned. “I do know Jim Larrañaga would like to see you guys.”
Nantes understood instantly, and mentioned it was an apology lodge. When he left, Packer sat with us.
“Aren’t you going downstairs?” I requested.
“Why would I do this?” He mentioned.
he laughed. “I obtained one thing flawed. Not the primary time, not the final time.”
Billy Packer, faculty basketball analyst who was a key participant in March Insanity, has died on the age of 82
In actual fact, the Packer wasn’t typically flawed, particularly when it got here to basketball. He was, within the opinion of many who observe the sport intently, the very best faculty basketball analyst tv had ever seen. He had no trick and he did not pull punches. He had an nearly distinctive capacity to speak concerning the sport, its coaches, and its gamers with out pandering.
Which is why he was typically unpopular with followers.
I referred to it as soon as All The ACC’s fan base—together with Wake Forest, his alma mater—was satisfied he was biased in opposition to their staff.
He mentioned, “I do know.” “I feel I ought to do an excellent job.”
When he went to work for NBC in 1974 after which CBS in 1981, followers throughout the nation typically accused him of getting an ACC bias—that means he was doing simply as properly on community TV as he did on ACC telecasts.
Packer was the son of a school coach. His father, Tony Packer, was the coach at Lehigh for 16 seasons. Bailey was too good a participant to go to Lehigh and ended up at Wake Forest, which on the time was a nationwide energy underneath Horace “Bones” McKinney. The Demon Deacons gained ACC titles in 1961 and 1962 and went to the Ultimate 4—for the primary and solely time—in 1962, Packer’s senior yr.
He coached briefly, was a stuntman after which discovered his area of interest when he was employed in 1972 by CD Chesley to be the ACC sport of the week coloration commentator. He was paired with Jim Thacker and the “Thacker and Packer” staff grew to become an iconic amongst ACC followers. In 1974, NBC employed him to do the nationwide broadcasts (initially with Curt Gowdy) and he ended up broadcasting 34 consecutive Ultimate Fours, most lately in 2008 for CBS.
“I feel he was the very best on TV,” former Davidson and Maryland coach Lefty Dressel mentioned Saturday. “He was all the time one step forward of what was going to occur, even when some individuals did not like what he mentioned. He talked concerning the match in entrance of him and instructed individuals what he thought.”
Packer really performed in Driesell’s first faculty sport coached at Davidson, a shocking win over Wake Forest. “I all the time teased him about that sport,” mentioned Dressell. And he’d come again straight away and say, ‘Yeah, okay [all-American] Lane Chapel didn’t play in that match. This was Billy. He all the time had a comeback.”
Such was the genius in NBC’s Dick Enberg, Al McGuire and Packer trio – basketball’s first three-man sales space. When NBC employed McGuire after he retired from teaching in 1977, he watched the sport from an off-court location—generally a janitor’s locker—and would sometimes make feedback when there was a break in play.
In line with longtime NBC publicist Tom Merritt, it was Packer who mentioned throughout that first season that it was time to get McGuire out of the broom closet and put him on the desk with him and Enberg. The remaining is sports activities broadcasting historical past.
Don Ohlmeyer [then NBC’s executive sports producer] He will get the credit score for placing the three collectively, nevertheless it’s all Billy,” Merritt wrote in an e-mail final week. “It was his thought and his insistence on doing it that made it occur.”
McGuire and Packer consistently bickered on air however had been shut pals. In actual fact, they typically shared lodge rooms as a result of McGuire did not like being alone and most popular to sleep on the ground.
I used to be lucky sufficient to cowl faculty basketball throughout NBC’s glory days and sometimes had dinner with the trio reside on Saturday nights earlier than Sunday video games. Packer and I ceaselessly disagreed, particularly with reference to CBS’s affect on the league’s basketball committee alternatives. After I began referring to CBS as “the official community of the Runnin’ Rebels” throughout UNLV’s 1990-1991 season, we had a really loud shouting match on a road nook in Indianapolis through the Ultimate 4.
However I missed Billy on the telecast when he retired—sacked, I feel, as a result of he refused to suck sufficient for coaches and the NCAA—as a result of he typically instructed me issues I did not know or did not take into consideration.
I’d name him generally to speak and he was as cussed as ever. In 2016, he instructed me the one faculty basketball video games he was watching that season concerned LSU and freshman star Ben Simmons. “I do not actually like the sport anymore,” he mentioned. “However this child fascinates me. He is so gifted however I am undecided he will be the star within the NBA everybody thinks he will be.”
Discuss being a visionary.
It is good to see all of the tributes for Packer pouring in now, however how is it doable that he isn’t within the Naismith Memorial Basketball Corridor of Fame as a contributor? He ought to have been recruited years in the past. I requested him about it a number of years in the past.
He mentioned, “John, for those who’re , I will say so.” “I truthfully do not care. I loved doing what I did all these years in the past and I feel I used to be good at it. That is sufficient for me.”
I believed him. That does not make it proper. Billy Packer has been a longtime Corridor of Famer. Simply ask all these followers whose groups he was prejudiced in opposition to.