Basketball broadcaster Billy Packer dies

 January 30, 2023

Legendary college basketball broadcaster Billy Packer, who narrated 34 years of NCAA tournaments, has died. He was 82.

The longtime commentator passed away from kidney failure, his family said.

Broadcaster Billy Packer dies

The son of a college basketball coach, Packer began his career playing basketball at Wake Forest, where he helped lead the Demon Deacons to the Final Four in 1962.

He began broadcasting with NBC in 1974, before moving to CBS in 1981. From 1975 until his retirement in 2008, he was a fixture of March Madness whose commentary was blunt and sometimes controversial.

Packer would later recall that he had never set out to be a broadcaster, telling The Athletic in 2019 that he had not been to a game since retiring a decade earlier.

"I made up my mind halfway through my career that someday I won't be doing this anymore," he said.

"One of the things I said to myself was that I really enjoy the research and studying the game and having the opportunity to interface with people I respect that really know the game and its history. And if I didn't enjoy doing that, I'd want to stop," added.

College basketball legend

The death of the college basketball icon is sending a shockwave through the sport. CBS sports chairman Sean McManus called Packer “synonymous with college basketball for more than three decades" and "the voice of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.”

“He had a tremendous impact on the growth and popularity of the sport,” McManus said. “In true Billy fashion, he analyzed the game with his own unique style, perspective and opinions, yet always kept the focus on the game."

ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale said he was "so sad" to hear the news.

“My (prayers) go out to Billy’s son Mark & the entire Packer family. Always had great RESPECT for Billy & his partners Dick Enberg & Al McGuire-they were super. May Billy RIP," Vitale tweeted.

Emmy winner

Packer's son Mark said his father had died at a hospital Thursday in North Carolina, where he spent three weeks in poor health.

“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."

In 1993, Packer won a Sports Emmy for Outstanding Sports Personality, Studio and Sports Analyst.

He was also a businessman and real estate investor -- a "bit of a hustler," his son said.

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