Billy Packer's March Madness calls celebrated: Fans pay tribute to legendary broadcaster
As college hoops fans and broadcasters mourned the loss of Billy Packer, some recalled some of the famous calls Packer was known for during his storied career.
Packer died Thursday night after being hospitalized in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the past three weeks. His son, Mark Packer, said he died of kidney failure. Billy Packer was 82.
Billy Packer's voice was synonymous with March Madness for decades. Broadcasting for NBC and then CBS, he was on the call for the men's Final Four every year from 1975-2008.
Sean McManus, the chairman of CBS Sports, said Packer “set the standard of excellence as the voice of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.”
Here's a look at some of Packer's unforgettable calls during March Madness:
'Simon says championship'
In the 1997 tournament, Arizona became the first team since the field was expanded to 64 teams in 1985 to defeat three No. 1 seeds. In the championship, Arizona upset Kentucky 84-79 in overtime. Arizona's Miles Simon dribbled the ball as the clock winds down before the Wildcats prevail. "Simon says championship!" Packer says.
Simon had 30 points to lead all scorers.
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VOD: 25 years ago today, Arizona defeated Kentucky in OT, 84-79, to win the 1997 national title and Billy Packer upstages Jim Nantz's final 1-liner ("Milestone victory!") with "Simon says championship!" pic.twitter.com/Oi8POVCYFL
— Jim Weber (@JimMWeber) March 31, 2022
"They won it ... on the dunk"
In the 1983 national championship game, No. 1 seed Houston matched up with No. 6 seed North Carolina State, led by coach Jim Valvano. In one of the biggest upsets in tournament history, the Wolfpack shocked the Cougars with Lorenzo Charles' buzzer-beating dunk after a missed shot by Derek Wittenberg. The stunning finish had Valvano famously running on the court looking for someone to celebrate with and gave the opportunity for Packer to deliver one of his best-known lines.
RIP Billy Packer. He had many memorable calls but @PackMensBball fans remember this one. Packer was quick with the mic drop.
"They won it...on the dunk!"https://t.co/WUdp0EXbA2
— Jeff Gravley (@JGravleySPORTS) January 27, 2023
'This game is over'
This comment didn't fare so well in a 2008 NCAA semifinal game as Kansas jumped out to a 38-12 lead over North Carolina in the first half when Packer announces, "This game is over."
The Tar Heels, with Tyler Hansbrough and Wayne Ellington, came back in the second half to get within five points, but the Jayhawks prevailed 84-66. Jayhawks fans never let Packer's comment slide.
"We sort of came out a little more casual than we would've liked and they hit us right between the eyes," said Roy Williams, the former Kansas coach who had taken over the Tar Heels.
It was also the last Final Four that Packer would call as CBS replaced him with Clark Kellogg for the following season.
As Billy Packer said … pic.twitter.com/SbmLHBTnrH
— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) June 19, 2022
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Billy Packer's famous March Madness calls as CBS legend dies at 82