Legendary College Basketball Analyst Billy Packer Passes Away at 82
Introduction to Billy Packer and his career
Billy Packer, a longtime college basketball analyst, passed away on Thursday night. He was 82 years old. Packer’s family announced his death, and his son, Mark, told The Associated Press that his father had been hospitalized in Charlotte, North Carolina for the past three weeks with several medical issues and ultimately succumbed to kidney failure.
Billy Packer’s impact on college basketball broadcasting
Packer spent 34 years on Final Four broadcast teams, 27 of them with CBS Sports as its Emmy award-winning college basketball analyst before his last Final Four in 2008. During his three-plus decades as a leading voice in the sport, Packer helped popularize three-man TV broadcast teams with Dick Enberg and Al McGuire and was never afraid to speak his mind. Among his many iconic calls was the line “Simon says championship” as Arizona clinched the 1997 national title behind a 30-point outing from Miles Simon.
Billy Packer’s time as a player at Wake Forest
Packer starred as a player for Wake Forest from 1958 to 1962 but became better known in the sports world for opinionated analysis from the sidelines of the biggest games in college basketball, including many years calling ACC games in addition to his duties at CBS Sports, where he was an analyst from 1981-2008.
Billy Packer’s time as a broadcaster with NBC and CBS
Packer’s broadcasting career coincided with the growth of college basketball. He worked as an analyst or color commentator on every Final Four from 1975 to 2008. He received a Sports Emmy for Outstanding Sports Personality, Studio and Sports Analyst in 1993. “He really enjoyed doing the Final Fours,” Mark Packer said. “He timed it right. Everything in life is about timing. The ability to get involved in something that, frankly, he was going to watch anyway, was a joy to him. And then college basketball just sort of took off with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and that became, I think, the catalyst for college basketball fans to just go crazy with March Madness.”
Billy Packer’s legacy in college basketball and family life
Packer joined NBC in 1974 and called his first Final Four in 1975. UCLA beat Kentucky in the title game that year in what was John Wooden’s final game as coach. Packer was also part of the broadcast in 1979 with Dick Enberg and Al McGuire when Magic Johnson’s Michigan State team beat Larry Bird’s Indiana State squad in the title game. That remains highest-rated game in basketball history with a 24.1 Nielsen rating, which is an estimated 35.1 million viewers.
Controversy surrounding Billy Packer’s broadcasting career
Packer went to CBS in the fall of 1981, when the network acquired the rights to the NCAA Tournament. He remained the network’s main analyst until the 2008 Final Four. In 1996 at CBS, Packer was involved in controversy when he used the term tough
monkey″ to describe then-Georgetown star Allen Iverson during a game. Packer later said he was not apologizing for what I said, because what I said has no implications in my mind whatsoever to do with Allen Iverson’s race.”
Conclusion: Remembering Billy Packer and his influence on the sport.
Billy Packer was a beloved husband, father, and grandfather, and will be deeply missed by all. He leaves behind a legacy in the sport of college basketball, as well as at CBS Sports, where he was an integral part of the network’s coverage of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. He was a true legend in the sport and his contributions will be remembered for years to come.